Ministry - The Last Sucker
Is this it? Apparently so, as Al Jourgensen has made it clear as crystal this will be Ministry's last collection of original material. Whether or not we believe him is a minor point, but it does leave expectations higher than usual for the industrial trailblazers. After a few album's worth of solid, ultimately lackluster but undeniably impressive overall material, those expectations are only increased as it's become something of a ritual for fans to expect the unexpected. We still expect the best from our heroes, and what can we say for The Last Sucker?
Well, one thing that's either going to draw you in or turn you off, however used to it you may be by now, is the band's continued spite towards the Bush administration. Indeed it not only again serves as the inspiration for this collection of songs, it seems to be the motivator behind the heavily-increased focus on the industrial side of their metal. Unlike recent past releases which have bordered on industrial-death at times, most of The Last Sucker is given ample space to showcase Al's still-razor-sharp knack for killer riffs and songs that boil to the brim with a white-hot ferocity. Opener "Let's Go" is more or less described by it's title; it's full speed ahead from the gate, balls-to-the-wall and no looking back. It doesn't take long for the pot shots at Bush, Cheney and friends to show up in Al's trademark distortion-bathed vocals. "Watch Yourself" is a middle-finger at the increased loss of personal freedoms of privacy, while "Life is Good" is a cynical look at a optimist's point of view of our current state here in America. Both of these songs are solid, but don't exactly come across as anything more than Rio Grande Blood cast-offs. It's not until the album's title track that we witness some of that true-blood Ministry magic rise from the rust; that's one hell of a main riff there, buddy.
2nd half of the album deters slightly in it's direction, stretching it's chops across some longer and more potent songs. One highlight is their amazingly enjoyable work-up of the Doors' classic "Roadhouse Blues", a song that benefits from this beefening-up more than you'd think without hearing it. "Die in a Crash" recaptures some of the punk spirit that hasn't shown itself in quite some time, a real barn-burner, quick and full of piss and vinegar. But the entire affair is stolen by the two-part album closing epic, "End of Days", perhaps Ministry's most ambitious offering to date. That's a bit of a stretch for a band of this sort of established creative genius, but when you hear it for the first time it's quite stunning in it's scope. Shifting between mid-paced recklessness and a sheer insane middle passage that develops into a sinsister, foreboding close that harkens to darker days to come...this one, if it represents Ministry's last song, should meet most fans as a satisfactory farewell.
And when it's all said and done, that's just what we have here; a fantastic sending-off to one of metal's most influential acts. Don't expect anything less than what you know Ministry can deliver, but expect it to sound as fresh as it ever has as the band seemed to catch a big 2nd wind for The Last Sucker. It's not so much a dying gasp as one last, endless scream into the void they've no doubt left behind.
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