By Bill Adams
For the last thirty-two years, Al Jourgensen and Ministry have been the purveyors of a fine form of subversive songwriting which has regularly pulled the rug out from under the genre they were working in at that moment. Be it electronic music or metal, the wit and subversive bent of the music has always been the tie which has bound the music and made it uniquely “Ministry.” Through all those years, there have been plenty of critics who just didn’t get (or didn’t want to get) the joke, and that’s probably one of the reasons why the band has never received the credit they deserve; lots of rock writers like to think that the tastemaking buck stops with them and that has been a big part of the problem. Even so, the band has soldiered on undaunted and won a devoted following without much help but, now thirteen albums deep into their career, Ministry has elected to call it a day (for the second time in the members’ career together); From Beer To Eternity will apparently be the final Ministry album.
From the opening of “Hail To His Majesty (Peasants),” the idea of an endgame showdown is obviously foremost on Al Jourgensen’s mind as the singer spits out a succession of caustic kiss-offs personally as well as with the help of some well-placed samples (in “Hail To His Majesty,” the re-occurring line which stands out best is simply a sample of the words, “I hate all you motherfuckers,” while the hard shot in “Punch In The Face” is a sample of a woman cursing listeners with the words, “That’s what you’re all gonna get!” and the choral rejoinder in “Permawar” is an angellic choir converging on the word “Retire”) set gainst some fantastic, turgid, punk-flavored metal. Fans will enjoy a roll in the mire with Jourgensen, certainly, but listeners who are getting to the party late might just catch a hint of the final “Fuck You” from the singer, lurking quietly in the background of each of From Beer To Eternity‘s eleven tracks. Those who come into the proceedings with an open mind might be able to spot the perfect beauty and vicious poetic justice of From Beer To Eternity: Jourgensen has actually managed to turn a perfectly expendable, formulaic album into a phenomenal event by saying there will be no more after this and flipping a few “so long, fuck you” sentiments in on a few tracks for good measure. If ever anyone needed proof that the great rock n’ roll swindle continues in the twenty-first century, it’s that.
Now, with all that on the record, the obvious question will become, “But will From Beer To Eternity really be the final Ministry album?” Most readers will probably find themselves answering that question at the same time they ask it – this writer certainly did. My answer to the finality of From Beer To Eternity goes like this: I say, “Who cares? It’s a great presentation for what it is – both Ministry’s and Al Jourgensen’s legacies will be polished rather than tarnished by it and, if it does turn out to be the last Minstry album, Jourgensen is pulling the curtain down on a good note which will leave listeners wanting more.” Short of expiring in some weird gardening accident, From Beer To Eternity is the best, most satisfying end to Ministry anyone could expect.
(13th Planet/AFM/Fontana North)
Bill Adams is editor-in-chief of groundcontrolmag.com.