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After more than two decades, pioneering metallic industrialists Ministry have issued their final studio album, 'The Last Sucker'. It completes the triumvirate of Bush blasting that began with Houses of the Molé and continued with last years blinding Rio Grande Blood with another politically charged industrial riff party.
Well, for starters, it sounds like Ministry. You know what to expect. Sadly however, there appears to be a certain degree of complacency throughout the album. Accusations of Rio Grande Blood 2.0 would be well founded, but it comes across as more of a 0.5. Pedestrian riffage permeates throughout the album, many of which wouldn't sound out of place on one of Fear Factory's less popular albums. Thats not to say you won't be banging your head, its still an album to get booked for speeding to. It's just that the filthy aggression prevalent in RGB seems to be missing. Of course the distorted as fuck vocals are unchanged, as is the dirty electro drumming. There's just an overall feeling of a band going through the motions one last time.
Its not all bad though. The title track gives off a strong 80s industrial vibe and the pounding southern rawk of 'Roadhouse Blues' kicks the aggression back up a notch. The album highlight and closing track 'End Of Days Part Two' is a sprawling epic, bearing some similarity to NINs 'Just Like You Imagined'. Complete with soaring guitar lines, child choir chorus and a Burton C. Bell sounding more like Pepper Keenan it definitely ends the album on a high.
It might sound like a band going through the motions, but Ministry at half pace is still more than most bands at full tilt. Not their worst and certainly not a career ending duff note, but not quite up to the standard they (re)set themselves with RGB.
So this is the end huh? Well, if one goes out with any dignity go kamakhazi style I say. Fuck grace, peacefullness and all that stuff....go out like nuclear war is about to commence. Thank-God Al takes heed to this because Ministry finally made me forget the last handful of albums they put out. In fact, this is the kind of Ministry that we haven't heard since their maximum peak with their trilogy of Industrial masterpieces such as "TLOR&H", "TMIATTTT", and "Psalm 69." This is Ministry many of us grew-up listening to and have come to know and love.
If "House of Mole" was the first step in in the right direction, "Rio Grande Blood" sounded like Al and camp just STARTING to warm up. "The Last Sucker" will have you running a fucking marathon. Speed, heaviness, speed, heaviness....this album honestly doesn't let up on what Ministry is known for. I honestly haven't heard Al Jourgenson this pissed off since classic Ministry track such as "Burning Inside", and "NWO". Already the first track "Let's Go" starts off with a cool-sounding sample of a homeless man preaching hellfire and brimstone...BANG! The hotrod-fueled catchiness of Ministry's sound is back. Al there screaming "Let's go insane!"...hey, why the hell not? Just as long as you provide us with enough drugs Al. Guitar solo is short and leaves you yearning for more but you'll have more of it throughout the rest of the album. Mike Scaccia's guitars are perfectly mixed and his accuracy on making killer Motorhead-ish solos allover this album is smoething that is needed in this day and age of faggy wannabe-shredders spewing over Dragonfarce. "Watch Yourself" is very militant stomp-heavy start/stop guitar based and then goes into the kind of half-Thrash riff mixed with samples that Fear Factory haven't been able to write in years. Speaking of which FF mainman Burton C. Bell is on here. "Life Is Good" is an excellent continuation and even more guitar solos. Shit already 3 songs into the album it's still going strong. "The Dick Song" slows it down a bit. Not bad. But sounds like a sum-up of the first 3 songs. The title track is filler, nothing that stands out that much. "No Glory" and "Death & Destruction" is where the speed kicks back in and it kicks in hard like AL going through a mountian of 8-balls, qualudes, and any other kind of upper known to man. Definately the most Metal tracks Ministry has produced. "Roadhouse Blues" is a Doors cover and the first time I heard this song, I got goosebumps on my arms. THE follow-up to "Jesus Beat My Hotrod". Y'know what? Fuck that song, Ministry's "Roadhouse Blues" blows it out of the water. Even though it's a cover somewhere Jim Morrison is smiling."Die In A Crash" kepts the momentum going that's a cyberpunk anthem. Burton C. Bell lends his vocals in the catchy sing-along chorus with riffs reminiscent of classic Black Flag/Dead Kennedys. End of Days part 1 and 2 starts are two of the slowest songs on here. Not less filled with good riffs. Very similar to "Golden Dawn" off "The Land of Rape & Honey". The sad thing about this album is this was the last with contribution made by the legendary Paul Raven also known for his contributing to apocalyptic bi-polar occult lunatics, Killing Joke, who died from heart failure. R.I.P. you angry bastard.
Cowboy hat in place with a pack of marlboro cigarettes stuffed into his side pocket of his mortorcycle jacket, bandanna collecting the sweating pouring from brow and a bottle of cheap wine, Al Jourgenson walks off into the sunset with a huge grin on his face. Silver tooth gleaming with the burning setting sun and a middle finger in the air. We'll miss ya Al. We'll definately miss ya.
Firstly, I would like to acknowledge the passing of Paul Raven, who played Bass in this recording and contributed to many of its songs. It was a fantastic swansong. I can truly ‘feel it’, in hindsight.
Long before the newest waves of Modern Metalcore, I remember finding the genres changes of Alain’s musical stepchild ministry to be utterly perplexing. The man shifted through a number of genres and each step brought another set of unusual progressions. From the earliest days as a new wave band up until the closing stages of the project as an Industrial Metal assault, Alien has sure been across a broad spectrum of genres. That said, I was pleased to be able to say that The Last Sucker is a success and an end to Ministry that fans can be proud of.
As far as the focus of this album goes, it’s excellent. Alain’s finally found something to get really, really fucking pissed about and it shows. From the faster, aggressive opening of let go with the backing chorus and rippling solos; the listener is hit with a clearer sense of purpose and intent than Ministry’s earlier works. In short, it’s Rio Grande Blood, yet purified and sharpened to the extent where there’s a clearer sense of purpose. Grande itself was unquestionably powerful, but I couldn’t shake the feeling the latter end of the CD did occasionally venture dangerously close to the edges of filler material. In the Last Sucker, this has been aptly avoided. Some might argue that Dwight D Eisenhower’s inclusion and speed at End of Days is filler, although I protest. The ominous (and let’s be frank, quite astute and truthful) observations by Ike give the reader a valuable sense of conclusion, serving as a bitingly truthful account of the concerns that lead Ministry to make this album in the first place. In short, as with all the other samples (and in particular, the sample pastiche on Death and Destruction) I feel these samples serve as a means of summarizing the intent of the album, rather than acting as filler.
In terms of the songs themselves, this is a powerful album. The album fluctuates between heavier, faster songs such as the first track and Death and Destruction, to somewhat more crushing songs such as No Glory and Watch Yourself. In the entire album a sense of speed and frenetic activity is kept, giving the album a strong thrash element (along with the riffing itself) and the riffs are attention grabbing and powerful. They display plenty of variety from riffs with more death metal influence than thrash, a number of excellent solos and go along well with the other elements in the album. The solos deserve particular mention is their placement each one being performed at exactly the right time and style to complement the direction of the songs, rather than detracting from them . All elements come together solidly, tying together songs such as No Glory and Death and Destruction particularly effectively. These are tied with a wall of sound approach I’m sure Devin Townsend would feel excited about and it only gives the album more power. With Alain absolutely screaming his rage all across the recording mic, the wall of sound approach becomes all the more important.
The Bass and Drums also deserve mention here. Raven’s performance, supporting the sounds of the songs no matter what they be, from the punchier, somewhat-more-punk-inspired riffage of The Doors cover Roadhouse Blues and Die In a Crash, to the thrash assaults of the album present in Lets go and Death and Destruction. Drumming is similarly effective, coming into it’s own on every song in different ways, keeping up with the punchy, aggressive style sought for the material in this album. All the elements combine together to create an enjoyably heavy and crushing sound, one that finally finds the anger and aggression Alain has sought for an age and uses it to steamroll everything in the way. The end result is an industrial metal record with a very clear emphasis on the metal and as thus, provides that crushing experience any good Ministry fan would come to expect from the focus and presentation of the album in the first place. Ultimately, ministry comes together as a musical unit in a better fashion than any other album in their career and the sound of the album is all the better for it. From the strategically placed samples mocking as many aspects of the Bush administration as Alain can fit onto the record, to the vocals, every aspect is clearly intended to get across as much Venom as possible.
Despite this being the last Ministry record, Alain has in his own words determined to bring about the end at the ‘high’ of his career, before he loses focus and the energy for Ministry’s music that he currently has. Rarely with any artist can I say such a claim is true for the final pieces of their work provided to a captive musical audience, yet Ministry succeed in this field. The album is crushing, powerful, angry, satirical and despairing at all once (and as with all ministry work, it has to perform this function in as sarcastic and gruff a manner as possible). In short, I suppose it’s exactly how The Alien wanted it to be and as far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing I can complain about with that attitude. A worthwhile release.
An empty bucket of KFC chicken sits on an improvised desk in a shabby, but rather spacious room in a West Australian residential college, the occupant is currently sitting at his computer. Rather 'tipsy', as the colloquialism goes, his demeanor is full of swagger thanks to the Jim Beam coursing through his veins. With the Jim Beam finished he moves onto the cheaper, but just as an efficient scotch by the name of Black Douglas. His mouse trails across the screen, he marvels at its passage and finds its home at the icon for Foobar; He loads up Ministry's latest and last album into the playlist. A sip of the potent alcoholic beverage as he steadies himself to listen to this album for yet another time, the number has been lost since it's inception into his musical collection.
A simple but effective sample breaks the silence, a sigh of relief is let out as it's realised that unlike its predecessor this is not just another President Bush 'cut-paste' sample, nor is it directly aimed at him. Before the surprise can wear off the air is permeated by a one-two punch of biting and powerful guitars pumping out a simple but effective thrash riff, "Let's Go" is a fitting title. Distorted vocals kick in; they lack the political vitriol of the predecessor... could this be a change of heart? Another sip of alcoholic beverage is taken in as a means to remind himself of reality, at this point the volatile mixture is starting to become bearable, if not comforting. The thrash break is welcome with a tasteful use of harmonics, much more tasteful than the temporary desk setup currently existing in the middle of the room; a shelf removed from the wall unit balanced precariously on a wheeled set of drawers, held in place by only 'blu-tac'. THEN FUCKING BAM! Out of nowhere! Fast and sharp lead work, the legato is flawless and flows with little regard for being clean, in other words it’s fucking metal as.
A palm rises to the reviewer's face, he can feel the desire to continue this horrendously trivial and rather uninspired track-by-track review but dare he? Once the second track, "Watch Yourself" kicks in he feels less and less inclined towards actually giving a shit about the song. It's slower and the afterglow of the last track is starting to fade as the desire to thrash recedes timidly. Screw it, the music is moved from the headphones to the speakers and the reviewer makes his way to the balcony to have a smoke break. The air is still somewhat cold despite the season moving steadily into spring, smoke trails into the air flowing from laminar to turbulence in mere milliseconds proving far more interesting than the current track and even more so than the proceeding track. A sigh erupts, the cigarette draws closer and closer to the end of its life as a decent groove heavy riff emerges from the speakers drawing upon the interest of the delinquent on the balcony he shouldn't be smoking on. "Run run run Cheney's got a gun", hilarious he muses. The cigarette is stubbed out and thrown into the gutter and he moves inside, plugs in the headphones. Title tracks usually contain some of the best work of an album, but alas he sips quietly and awaits something to grab his attention.
"Greed...Power...Corruption" and then thrash! A fast and energetic song bursts forth, a thrash riff materialises from the headphones unexpectedly with little to no remorse for the eardrums of the listener! Headbanging ensues with great vigor, finally a song with speed and intensity! Despite being a shorter song it proceeds to shred half way through and continues on its destructive path, truly a masterpiece of a moment. However at its end a frown comes upon the face of the reviewer; "A bush oriented sample? Not again..." alas these doubts are obliterated as yet another thrash riff blasts through! Impressive! Twice in a row? This album slowly begins to redeem itself with it's homage to 80's thrash in a way the bands originating from that scene wish they still could. In true thrash style a solo flows in right after the first chorus and does a nice job overall, could be longer but of course the band does hold some sort of obligation to pumping out lyrics demonising America and it's political scene thus an extended solo would only steal the lime-light. Like the previous track it's over all too fast.
At this point the alcohol has the best of him, the thrash rendition of a Doors' song passes him by and whilst impressive does throw him off in the midst of his alcoholic conundrum. A punkish riff assaults his ears as his head lies still on the desk in front of him whilst Burton C. Bell belts out lyrics he can no longer distinguish, it's upbeat and fun, resurrecting his ethanol form somewhat readily. The middle solo is fast and furious with simple form, and the chorus rings out for a final time in the last few moments; "Live fast, die in a crash".
As the final two tracks rear their head he decides the next 13 minutes can be spent out on the balcony again, the speakers are plugged back in and the lighter's flame sparks up. Was this 13 minutes worth ending the album on? For the most part it's dry and repetitive and is no better than the track "Khyber Pass" on their previous album. A long diatribe starts to be read out half way through the last track, this isn't as much an epic track as a waste of time he thinks. As the track closes he stubs out his third cigarette and downs the last of the scotch-coke mix, all he can muster in his thoughts is:
"I wish I could think of a witty spin on the album title that incorporates the word inconsistent"
Okay, I must say that after listening to this CD for a grand total of 3 times, I am seeing this band live if they tour. I don't care how far it is, I am seeing this live. This is due to the fact that is the best industrial metal album ever created with an emphasis on metal rather than industrial. This is the album that NIN's "With Teeth" tried to be, except way fucking heavier, with way better lyrics, and way better songs.
The riffs remind me of death metal about 50% of the time while the other 50% of the time they're just crushing doom/metal riffs at an insane speed metal pace. Punk like riffs and drumming can even be found in songs like "No Glory" and "Die in a Crash". The guitar playing is absolutely perfect. Mike Scaccia has seriously outdone himself and is maybe even topping his guitar playing with Rigor Mortis. The riffs and solos on this album are seriously fucking badass and I'll just leave it at that.
The bass is deep and well rooted in the music along with the absolutely mili-metre precise drumming. The drumming is seriously impressive as is the way each song progresses. These are some seriously well crafted songs of the highest nature and the amount of brain power that went into creating "The Last Sucker" makes Samael's "Solar Soul" seem mild by comparison. The spoken industrial voices all throughout the music really give it an enduring/aural effect on the listener. The voice manipulations of George W. on "Death and Destruction" are fucking brilliant. Al's voice is venomous and quite honestly reminds me of Lemmy from Motorhead with a serious kick in the balls.
This album is perfect from start to finish; I've never heard an album symbolize a pointless war better than "The Last Sucker". Every song is heavy as hell, and even the Doors' remix of "Roadhouse Blues" is absolutely killer material. The production is beautiful and multifaceted and the musicianship shown on this release is practically unparalleled. Highly, highly reccommended for any metalhead.
Part three of their Anti-Bush administration campaign, following "House of the Mole" and "Rio Grande Blood". Jourgenson's last offering as a full time musician shows that even after 27 years in the business, the man still has plenty of lead in his pipe. For those who are familiar with their last two albums, the music is not vastly different in approach, just that the riffs are much thrashier. As for the rest of them n00bs, imagine a ten ton panzer running over an assembled line of bulldozers at 10 kms/hr or you could just get this album and get it done with.
The songs on "The Last Sucker" range from heavy to really fucking heavy to 'no fucking way' heavy. Seriously, when a band does a cover of "Roadhouse Blues" at 170 BPM with in-your-fucking-face non-stop double kicks and manages to sound like Motorhead in the process, you know it can't possibly get any better. The song "Die in a Crash" featuring guest vocals by Burton Bell of Fear Factory, has Dead Kennedys tattooed all over it. A tribute to the legends, I'm sure.
"Life is Good" is the only song on this album which i'm not too crazy about, but the guitar solo and the riff that follows it, makes this otherwise excessively Rob Zombie-like song, bearable. Guitar solos, by the way, are one of the additions to their 'new' sound and they are really tasty and very 80's Hammet-sounding. Another relatively new addition to the band's sound is the symphonic-wall-of-sound effect, made popular by the likes of Strapping Young Lad used throughout the album to great effect.
The intro to the song "The Last Sucker" sounds strikingly similar to something Exodus had done in the 80s. Just to give you an idea of the vast array of genres these guys have managed to cover and fit into this 56 min monster.
"Death & Destruction" is probably the most metal song these guys have ever written and this is also when the album really kicks into a full metal assault.. The two-part "End of Days" is the perfect swansong with all the elements that has made Ministry. Hate, rage, corruption, dismay and irony, as an Eisenhower speech is played through for the last 5 minutes of this juggernaut of an album.
Very rarely does an album come out so fucking heavy, it accelerates your bowel movement. Ministry brings you their "Last Sucker" and this is as metal as it can get.