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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.