Music

Ministry: The Last Sucker

Uncle Al is taking his Ministry moniker and riding off into the sunset, but he's not going quietly.


Ministry

The Last Sucker

Label: Megaforce
US Release Date: 2007-09-18
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

Ever since Ministry started in 1981 with an EP of pure techno music (Cold Life), there has always been an edge to de-facto leader of all things Ministry, Al Jourgensen. The techno side of him gave him one strong CD (1986's Twitch), but after that, Uncle Al had a hankering for the dark side of music. He kept the techno aspect of dancing capabilities, but he was the face of the new "industrial revolution". This movement grew over the course of time to such huge proportions that it spawned such success stories as Skinny Puppy and Nine Inch Nails.

Jourgensen's career had spawned a trio of masterpieces early on: The Land of Rape and Honey, The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste, and his still-pinnacle album, Psalm 69 (The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs). Beats you could dance -- or mosh to -- were combined with nasty, heavy guitars, samples and keyboards, more loops than a box of Cheerios, and Uncle Al's sandpaper-meets-volcanic eruption vocals. But a burgeoning heroin habit produced two albums that crashed as badly as he did. (Filth Pig and The Dark Side of the Spoon). In 2003, Jourgensen took a baby step back to the sound that his fans craved with Animositisomina.

One of Ministry's most successful songs in their canon was "N.W.O." (New World Order), where Uncle Al took on George Bush, the senior version. Its anger in both music and lyrics, combined with Bush snippets in loop form, struck a chord with fans, both politically and musically. Jourgensen, whose anger towards Republicans is no state secret, decided that he would concoct a trilogy of albums where the main focus was our current leader. It started with 2004's Houses of the Molé, a full return to the form that made the first trilogy of masterpieces so popular. And except for the opening track, "No W", every song title purposely started with "W", a reminder of who the intended target was. Two years later, more Bush nastiness ensued with Rio Grande Blood. And now, the final part of the Bush trilogy, and the last, (as Jourgensen keeps insisting), official Ministry studio release, The Last Sucker, is unleashed on the masses.

Jourgensen set out to make this album somewhat ,(ahem), organic, at least as far as guitars go. He enlisted his two guitarists from his last touring band, Tommy Victor and Sin, as well as Paul Raven from Killing Joke on bass. All the percussion work was programmed by Uncle Al, and John Bechdel added keyboards. The boys held nothing back, and the result is 11 tracks (including one cover) of unadulterated nastiness.

There are some differences on this album than the past two anti-Bush bombs. One song's riff ("The Dick Song", about Mr. Cheney) sounds like the intro to Metallica's "For Whom the Bell Tolls". The title cut's sound is like a third cousin, twice removed of Deep Purple's "Woman From Tokyo". Another song, "Die in a Crash", is probably the most straightforward Ministry song you'll ever hear, a rocker with few tricks and an anthemic chorus: "I can feel it/I can feel the pressures of this life!" The cover song, an industrial blast of the Doors' "Roadhouse Blues", is startling, yet strangely satisfying, (including a harp in the mix). It's certainly better than Ministry's last attempt, a dishevelled try at "Lay Lady Lay" (on Filth Pig).

But if it's the "old-style" Ministry you crave, there's no shortage of it on The Last Sucker. The opener, "Let's Go", is as frantic as any Ministry output, fully packed with as much punch as a bomb. "Watch Yourself" is loaded with musical twists and turns, with its not-so-far-fetched Orwellian theme. "Life is Good" focuses on the soldiers overseas and what they can look forward to when they return, and is also fairly straight-ahead. "No Glory" has a chorus of "Greed. Power. Corruption." You get the drift.

Jourgensen listened to a ton of George W. speeches/press conferences, and snippets of words are sprinkled throughout. "Death and Destruction" is a prime example of a presidential skewering. And last, but not least, Ministry closes the album and its career with a two-part groove-fueled despair called "End of Days". The first part opens with: "Judgment day's upon us and I see no one cares/Lies for death in pools of blood and I'm stoned with fear/A trigger happy finger solves a problem not a prayer/I see this world falling apart and I fucking swear/It's the end of days/We've clearly lost our way."

Part two has this guitar groove that seeps into your head and stays there for nearly all of its 10:25 length. In a masterfully ironic touch halfway through the song, a speech by REPUBLICAN Dwight D. Eisenhower is heard over the groove. It was the final speech of his presidency, and what was said back then rings true today. Fear Factory's Burton C. Bell adds vocals to the first two verses of the second part, and according to Jourgensen, this is the only Ministry song (both parts) where the guitar tracks were laid down in one long take, with no overdubs.

Is The Last Sucker Ministry's masterpiece closer to its career? Not totally, but it's a powerful album that leaves you wanting more. Jourgensen's legacy will include bringing an angry, danceable musical genre to the forefront of public consciousness. Even his missteps have a good song or two ("Rewind" from Filth Pig, "Bad Blood" from The Dark Side of the Spoon), but for the most part, Uncle Al's musical footprint was heavy, angry and vital. If The Last Sucker is Ministry's last effort, it's safe to say Jourgensen went out at the top of his game. Now he and George W. can go off into the sunset together. Ironic that they both live in the same state, no?

8
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

The 60 Best Albums of 2007

From tech house to Radiohead and Americana to indie and everything in between, the 60 best albums of 2007 included many of the 2000s' best albums.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Solitude Stands in the Window: Thoreau's 'Walden'

Henry David Thoreau's Walden as a 19th century model for 21st century COVID-19 quarantine.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Will COVID-19 Kill Movie Theaters?

Streaming services and large TV screens have really hurt movie theaters and now the coronavirus pandemic has shuttered multiplexes and arthouses. The author of The Perils of Moviegoing in America, however, is optimistic.

Gary D. Rhodes, Ph.D
Television

Fleabag's Hot Priest and Love as Longing

In season two of Fleabag, The Priest's inaccessibility turns him into a sort of god, powerful enough for Fleabag to suddenly find herself spending hours in church with no religious motivation.

Music

Annabelle's Curse's 'Vast Oceans' Meditates on a Groundswell of Human Emotions (premiere)

Inspired by love and life, and of persistent present-day issues, indie folk band Annabelle's Curse expand their sound while keeping the emotive core of their work with Vast Oceans.

Music

Americana's Sarah Peacock Finds Beauty Beneath Surface With "Mojave" (premiere + interview)

Born from personal pain, "Mojave" is evidence of Sarah Peacock's perseverance and resilience. "When we go through some of the dry seasons in our life, when we do the most growing, is often when we're in pain. It's a reminder of how alive you really are", she says.

Television

Power Struggle in Beauty Pageants: On 'Mrs. America' and 'Miss Americana'

Television min-series Mrs. America and Taylor Swift documentary Miss Americana make vivid how beauty pageants are more multi-dimensional than many assume, offering a platform to some (attractive) women to pursue higher education, politics, and more.

Hilary Levey Friedman
Music

Pere Ubu 'Comes Alive' on Their New, Live Album

David Thomas guides another version of Pere Ubu through a selection of material from their early years, dusting off the "hits" and throwing new light on some forgotten gems.

Music

Woods Explore Darkness on 'Strange to Explain'

Folk rock's Woods create a superb new album, Strange to Explain, that mines the subconscious in search of answers to life's unsettling realities.

Music

The 1975's 'Notes on a Conditional Form' Is Laudably Thought-Provoking and Thrilling

The 1975 follow A Brief Inquiry... with an even more intriguing, sprawling, and chameleonic song suite. Notes on a Conditional Form shows a level of unquenchable ambition, creativity, and outspoken curiosity that's rarely felt in popular music today.

Music

Dustbowl Revival's "Queen Quarantine (A Home Recording)" Is a Cheeky Reproach of COVID-19 (premiere)

Inspired by John Prine, Dustbowl Revival's latest single, "Queen Quarantine (A Home Recording)", approaches the COVID-19 pandemic with wit and good humor.

Books

The 2020 US Presidential Election Is Going to Be Wild but We've Seen Wild Before

Americans are approaching a historical US presidential election in unprecedented times. Or are they? Chris Barsanti's The Ballot Box: 10 Presidential Elections That Changed American History gives us a brief historical perspective.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.