Ministry – The Last Sucker
13th Planet/Megaforce Records (9/18/07)
If The Last Sucker truly is the final gasp for Ministry, then Al Jourgensen should surely be content to have his brainchild go out at the top of its game.
This is exactly what you’d expect from one of industrial metal’s most destructive acts. The album, the culmination of a trilogy which was brimming with anger against the current Bush administration, picks up right where last year’s Rio Grande Blood left off. This album, perhaps more than any other of the trilogy, sees Ministry return to the form heard in the band’s landmark 1992 album, Psalm 69. The one-two punch from openers â€œLet’s Goâ€ and â€œWatch Yourselfâ€ are vintage Ministryâ€”machine gun riffing with an electronic tinge, Jourgensen’s robotic barking spewing forth verses with plenty of topical sound bites incorporated into the mix.
But unlike 1992, Ministry is much more focused in its delivery these days. Each song drops like a precision-guided missile. â€œLife is Goodâ€ plays like the soundtrack to a forgotten wasteland, while Jourgensen takes aim at the U.S. Vice President with â€œThe Dick Songâ€ (complete with twisted samples of Cheney proclaiming â€œAnd I don’t think it would surprise the American people â€¦ I have killed hundreds of peopleâ€), and the foreboding dirge of the title-track spills from the speakers like a crippling sludge.
Two of the album’s strongest tracks actually end up being the most surprising of the bunch. First, the twisted, explosive cover of The Doors’ â€œRoadhouse Bluesâ€, which sounds like an out-of-control train ready to derail. Next up, the album-closing (and perhaps, as far as Ministry is concerned, career-closing) â€œEnd of Days (Pt. 2)â€ which features Fear Factory frontman Burton Bell sharing vocal duties. Bell actually appears on three tracks, and his tone and cadence fits perfectly with Ministry’s delivery. That he got to work with the band before Jourgensen closed up shop is a gift to both him and fans alike.
â€œEnd of Days (Pt. 2)â€ is unlike anything I can recall Ministry recording before. The 10-minute opus seethes with this haunting, melodic riff that sounds, dare I say, beautiful. Add to that Jourgensen and Bell trading off verses and chanting between a repetitive chorus of children chanting â€œit’s just the end of daysâ€ as the drums and guitars push forward in this massive, layered masterpieceâ€”truly the bandâ€˜s finest moment. A bulk of the song features a lengthy sample of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s farewell speech, and the entire package is just impossible to ignore. In the end, Jourgensen isn’t making any motion to call attention to the end of Ministry. Rather, he simply keeps hammering home his message about the state of America and its affairs.
Love or hate his message, Jourgensen has undoubtedly crafted the perfect swan song. The purpose may be impossible to ignore, but the delivery is what really counts. Ministry has solidified its place as a true classic in metal and industrial music. The genre(s) will be a little less exciting without the anticipation of a new Ministry album lurking around the corner.