September 14, 2007

CD Review: Ministry - The Last Sucker

I've never been a big Ministry fan. It's not that I didn't like them, it's that I did not take the time to listen to them. It was more like I was not a fan through my own omission of picking up any of their albums rather than listening and not liking them. Although, I have to admit that in my early excursions into the music world (admittedly much later than most) I would probably not have cared for them much. In retrospect, it is probably a good thing that I did not get into them back then. On the other side, I do have fond memories of "Jesus Built my Hot Rod." That brings me to the the latest offering from Ministry. Not only is it their latest, but it is also their last. Yes, The Last Sucker will be the last ever new album from the band that has influenced so many over the past 24 years since their debut, 1983's With Sympathy.

Something else that I should admit before going further, I am not terribly politically minded. Politics is an area that I tend to steer clear of, I know my limits and I am not well armed in that arena. The reason I mention this is because The Last Sucker is an overtly political album. Ministry mastermind Al Jourgensen sets his sights on President George W. Bush, and he doesn't hold his tongue. He does not care who is listening, or who is paying attention. He is intent on having his say. Bush is not the only one to be taken to task as he calls Dick Cheney Satan's emissary on Earth in "The Dick Song." With all of this out in the open, I am not going to attempt any lyrical analysis, I can't understand what he's saying half the time anyway.

The only constant factor in Ministry is Al Jourgensen. The remainder of the band has been an ever revolving door of musicians. The Last Sucker features a number of familiar faces to fans of metal. On guitar you have Tommy Victor, whom you may know from Prong and a stint with Danzig. Filling the bass duties is former Megadeth mainstay Dave Ellefson, he was the final original member (besides Dave Mustaine, of course) to leave Megadeth. He has also played with Soulfly. Another former Megadeth member takes a seat behind the drum kit on The Last Sucker, Jimmy DeGrasso.

Even with my decidedly limited Ministry exposure, this album has a sound that strikes me as distinctly Ministry. It is fast, thrashy metal with a heavy industrial influence. Right from the start the energy and pace are high. "Let's Go" starts off with the warning words that "A storm's a brewin'" before kicking in at full strength. It may have high energy and that signature industrial thrash sound, but the album doesn't truly launch until "Watch Yourself" begins. I love the way the song starts before moving into the chugging riff with the real and programmed percussion.

There is a definite flow of consistency throughout the album. Despite that fact, the songs have an up and down effect on me. It is almost an alternating love/hate throughout. The peaks come with the previously mentioned "Watch Yourself" and also includes the title track, the Cheney themed "The Dick Song," "The Last Sucker," "Death and Destruction," and the punkish flow of "Die in a Crash" featuring Fear Factory's Burton C. Bell on vocals (although I almost didn't recognize him). The Last Sucker closes with the two part "End of Days." It is two tracks totaling near fourteen minutes. This pair sounds really good as it tones down the industrial sounds and amps up a taste of the epic as Al Jourgensen closes out the days of his Ministry.

Bottomline. It may not be their best album, but it is likely not their least either. Al Jourgensen has said that he wants to go out on top of his game, and I would have to say that he succeeds. This is an eminently listenable album of industrial thrash. Ministry fans will not want to miss this. It may have it's peaks and valleys, fortunately the valleys are still well above sea level.



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