Is there a term for when something is the same, but different? Because that is what the latest Ministry album, From Beer To Eternity, is all about. This “final” Ministry album has Uncle Al doing his usual thing, but this time around things seem slightly different. Different in a very good way.
I hear Ministry fans often saying “older Ministry is better… blah blah blah”. At this point, older Ministry is so different (and long ago), you can’t really compare them in my opinion. Plus everyone knows Al does whatever the hell he wants to anyway (Rio Grande Dub anyone) and doesn’t give a shit what you think. Since the Psalm 69 / Filth Pig days the band has evolved over the years towards a more straight forward metal sound. Their last album, Relapse, being the most straight line metal album I think Ministry has made. Luckily with From Beer To Eternity they’ve done a few things differently and under the influence of… politics. It definitely seems that Al and gang are at their musical best when lashing out towards the US government and it’s cronies. From Beer To Eternity gets things back on track with the political craziness and an interesting blend of all the various Ministry elements.
Upon first listening to From Beer To Eternity, a knee jerk reaction to have is that it’s a very different approach for Ministry. I’ve even read some saying it’s possibly Ministry‘s most “experimental” album. On first listen it just sounds and feels very different compared to recent albums. I can fully see why they would say that. If you really listen to the album however, especially several times, you start to hear that it’s still the same Ministry we all love with Al’s style all over the place. However, things are a bit more varied, mixed up and rearranged compared to many Ministry albums. From Beer To Eternity finds Al cutting back on the tongue-in-cheek humor, staying focused and throwing in all his styles and tricks he’s built up over the years.
Things start off with the Industrial feeling track “Hail to His Majesty (Peasants)“. It’s a mid-tempo track filled with chugging, sludgy heaviness mixed with some overdubs, sampling, some electronic elements. It has Al growling vocals at times and talking vocals in other places. It is followed up by “Punch in the Face” which has a faster, heavier groove that harkens back to the Animositisomina days. It’s chocked full of growling vocals, crunchy guitars, steady drums and sampling craziness. “Fairly Unbalanced” is sort of similar in style with speedy guitars and pounding drums driving into your head like a freight train. That combined with Al’s angst filled vocals towards politics and an excellent use of sampling, the track has a slight “Jesus Built My Hotrod” chaotic feel to it. “The Horror” changes things up again with a more Industrial feeling dub style track packed full of Fox News samples and rhythmic electronic noise. The track hooks you too and it never gets annoying or redundant. It could easily be confused as an ohGr/Skinny Puppy track, if that tells you anything.
“Thanx but No Thanx” I think is the most interesting track on the album and my favorite. Things start and end with a heavy, Reggae style bass line. Sergeant Major is back barking out a sequence of sarcastic “thanks”. Then after a few minutes the chugging guitar hooks kick in. The drums pound out a steady mid-tempo beat and Al’s vocals are back to his more controlled scream instead of growl. The track is heavy, grinding, a little sludgy and catchy as hell.
Is From Beer to Eternity truly the “final” Ministry album? Jourgensen has made that threat several times. If it truly is the last album, Al and Ministry have put together one excellent finale that shows off the talents Ministry has forged over the years. I will always like to hear more Ministry, especially if they continued down this path they created with From Beer to Eternity. If it is the final album however, it’s one hell of a way to finish.
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