ALBUM REVIEW: Ministry’s last holds up to catalog

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First Posted: 9/9/2013

Ministry has tried this before – the whole “this is our last album” thing. The band’s creator/vocalist/lifeblood Al Jourgensen stated back in 2007, upon Ministry’s “The Last Sucker” record, that they would indeed call it a career at that point due to Jourgensen’s health issues. Now, in 2013, Ministry’s taking another stab at a final bow; however, this one seems somewhat more likely to take.

Jourgensen’s musical partner in crime for the past 20-odd years, guitarist Mike Scaccia, was a major contributor to Ministry’s best work, like 1992’s platinum “Psalm 69,” and unexpectedly passed away in 2012 after suffering a heart attack onstage. Scaccia was often referred to by Jourgensen as “my little brother,” making the setback more meaningful and perhaps unrecoverable in a musical sense. If this is in fact the last Ministry record, Jourgensen’s got one final blast of apocalyptic, maniacally mechanized noise to unleash upon the masses.

Ministry was always at its most potent with heaping, thrash-ripped guitar terror at the heart of its techno-industrial base. Tracks here like “PermaWar” echo back to fierce nuggets of blackened chaos like “Just One Fix” from “Psalm 69.” Cuts like “Lesson Unlearned” are also deranged arrangements of cut-and-paste guitar-heavy expression – the late Scaccia contributing his patented serrated guitar lines prior to his passing.

Tracks like “Change of Luck” are a snapshot of Ministry’s earlier, more ambient, synthesizer-based sound. “Enjoy the Quiet” shows just what makes the mentally unstable musical mind of Al Jourgensen tick – rushing flourishes of white noise, disembodied voices, and Jourgensen’s own whispered growl intro, make the song that much more frightening, to think that this might actually be Jourgensen’s reality. Hearing him snarl about how “we’ve turned the world into a petri dish” in “Perfect Storm,” amid a very Kreator-sounding evil metal assault, ensures that his reputation for blunt force honesty and unapologetic musical mashup show no signs of becoming dulled.

True pioneers of a cringe-inducing, industrial musical bruise, Ministry sounds like they’re still up to no good on what may turn out to be their last hurrah. If this is it, what a way to go out.

Ministry ‘From Beer To Eternity’ Rating: W W W W

-Mark Uricheck, Weekender Correspondent