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Ministry Uses Up Their Last Bit of Fuel

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 13, 2007 7:20PM

2007_09_ministry.gifIt's grown easy to take Ministry for granted. Hell, we bet most people didn't even realize that the band was putting out albums since the group's public profile has dropped considerably since they had a hit with the Gibby Haynes-sung speed freakabilly of "Jesus Built My Hotrod."

Certainly the band seemed to deserve to fall by the wayside. A couple bad puns passing as albums that were saddled with mediocre metal was enough to even press die-hard fans’ allegiance. Y’see, back in the day Al Jourgensen was a motherfucker of a producer, crafting bruising, pummeling, goth speed-tech. His masterpiece was The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste, an album that sampled everything and anything to craft a bad acid trip tempered with about 70 pounds of aural cocaine. It sounded like danger and Armageddon, and it was darkly beautiful.

And then things started to slowly roll downhill.

We admit the primary reason we even really paid attention to Ministry’s new album, The Last Sucker, was because it arrived alongside the news that this would be the band’s final offering. Naturally, this news was somewhat weakened a few days later when we learned that “Ministry & Co-Conspirators” were currently working on an album of covers, but by then it was too late, we’d already listened to The Last Sucker. And man were we surprised by what we heard.

Apparently Al got his groove back.

Jourgensen’s approach is no longer as sample-happy as it was in the days of his strongest work, but he does seem to have regained some of the frenzied urgency and captured it with a crack band of collaborators. His messages have never been very deep, and to hear him rail against the present administration as he does isn’t exactly illuminating, but Ministry has never really been about the message. With them, it’s what the music evokes, the moods it plumbs, and the effect it can have on the listener.

And this is where the album really succeeds. While the last few discs have certainly been noisy enough, they didn’t make us want to rev up a chainsaw, jump on a chopper, and dive headfirst into a mosh pit, all at the same time. For a while we were wondering if we, or Jourgensen, had just growing too old for that sort of thing. The Last Sucker shows that the potential was always there, just waiting to surface again.

There are a few weaker points, like the formulaic speed metal of “No Glory” disappoints, and “End Of Days Part 2” comes across as an Andrew WK tribute song that lasts about 9 minutes too long. But skip those and center on goodies like the hypertensive “Let’s Go,” the darkly funny “The Dick Song” (about our very own VP), and the surprisingly decent cover of The Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues” (we know, what?!).

The band could have gone out like a suburban metalhead too caught up in his own licks to notice no one was listening anymore, but instead they decided to finish their career with a roadster destroying bang of a fireball. Well done Mr. Jourgensen, well done.