Sound — 8
Ministry was formed by Al Jourgensen in 1981, though at the time the band's sound was unrecognizable to what it became as it was initially a new wave synthpop band. During the early years the band worked on discovering their sound and then finally in the early '90s they began to have commercial success with the release of the single "Jesus Built My Hotrod," followed by the album "Psalm 69." They continued to have success, both artistically and commercially, until in the early 2000's when Al Jourgensen often used Ministry as a vehicle to write music very critical of the Republican Party, and George W. Bush, specifically. While the overt political leanings of many of the songs from this era alienated some fans, it did win others over, but Jourgensen decided in 2007 to retire Ministry. This lasted until 2011, when Ministry got back together for a reunion show that turned into being a full scale reunion and the release of the album "Relapse" in 2012. Longtime Ministry guitarist, Mike Scaccia, died of a heart attack shortly after recording his parts for From Beer To Eternity, in December 2012, while actually on stage with his other band, Rigor Mortis. Jourgensen completed the mixing and production of "From Beer to Eternity," but announced once again that this will be the end of Ministry as he can't continue without Mike Scaccia. "From Beer to Eternity" is the thirteenth studio album by Ministry and contains 11 tracks with a total runtime of just under 55 minutes. The deluxe version contains remixed versions of two of the album tracks. The first single from the album was "PermaWar," which was released via iTunes in early August. The album opens up with the track "Hail to His Majesty (Peasants)," which sets the mood for the whole album with the opening line, "I hate all you mother f--kers!" Musically, the track is one of the most brilliant industrial metal songs I've heard come out in a good while, with non-traditional percussion sounds, various elements of electronica and a very well finessed use of volume dynamics. The next track, "Punch in the Face," is a super aggressive song with a vocal hook of "Punch in the face, punch in the face, punch in the face, you need a punch in the face," a really infectious bassline and a simple but effective lead guitar line. "PermaWar" is the lead single from the album as well as being the most riff-oriented song on the album and with the most conventional sound from the album as well. The track "Perfect Storm" is another track that is riff heavy, but it also brings in more elements of industrial, as well as using some sampled audio. "Fairly Unbalanced" is another politically themed track, with Jourgensen's lyrics on the track starting with "The other day I watched Fox News Network/ I swear they are all on crack." The track "The Horror" is basically percussion and bass with audio samples being manipulated, looped and echoed and also with another political message. "Side FX Include Mikey's Middle Finger (T.V.4)" is the most hardcore punk track from the album, musically, though it still uses many industrial elements including a few audio samples of drug side effects. "Lesson Unlearned" has some female vocals, as well as Jourgensen's, and it is my favorite vocal track from the album, and also has some of the most interesting guitar work, sounding at times almost like old school funk music. "Thanx But No Thanx" is musically like metal beat poetry music, especially with the lengthy audio samples taken from William S. Burroughs's "A Thanksgiving Prayer." "Thanks But No Thanx" also has my favorite bass part from the album, which comes in shortly before halfway through the album it is simple but it has a lot of punch. "Change of Luck" is up next, and it is interesting as it has an Arabian thing going on, mixed in with different industrial and electronica elements. The album closes out with a track called "Enjoy the Quiet," which starts out with the lyrics "Enjoy the quiet NOW," followed by what starts sounding like a stream or river, but soon can be heard to be white noise and static, then filled with indiscernible words echoing throughout the track. Finally the track ends by repeating the opening lyrics "Enjoy the quiet NOW" and after that track you're ready to enjoy the quiet. I enjoyed the album more than I expected to overall, the production was excellent, and though I don't agree with everything Al Jourgensen is about, I enjoy the way he shares his artistic vision.
Lyrics — 8
Al Jourgensen has always been a guy with a vision, and his skill as a vocalist has always managed to keep up with his vision. Jourgensen's vocals remain powerful and vital considering he's been doing this for over 30 years, even though he probably would never make a top ten metal vocalists list or anything like that. "Thanx But No Thanx" contains samples from William S. Burroughs's poem, "A Thanksgiving Prayer." There are female vocalists used on "Lesson Unlearned," though I only have the digital copy of the album so I don't know who they are but it was my favorite vocal moment on the album. The lyrical content on the album stays appropriate to the industrial metal genre, though at times becoming fairly provocative, such as with the opening track "Hail to His Majesty (Peasants)": "Just lick my mother f--kin' balls/ Pearl necklaces for everyone/ Don't f--king care at all/ 'Cause I'm Al F--kin' Jourgensen/ Peasants, You're Peasants, You're Peasants/ You f--king suck/ I hate all you mother f--kers... / You're stupid/ You're stupid/ You're stupid." At my count, he uses the "F" word eight times in that song. Another theme visited on the album is, once again, politics as shown from the lead single from the album, "PermaWar": "You live to fight another day, and that day will come/ We're fighting never-ending wars, for profit & fun/ We're tired, we're tired, we're tired of PermaWar/ You live to die another day, we send you off with a gun/ We're making money hand over fist, that's why we're never done/ We're tired, of keeping scores/ We're tired, of what's in store/ We're tired, we don't want anymore/ We're tired of PermaWar/ I'm tired of building other nations/ Ceasefire, it's our only salvation/ You live and die for the American Way, well that way is done/ The bottom line remains the same, we're making cash by the ton." Regardless of whether you agree with Jourgensen's political views, the album is still worthwhile.
Overall Impression — 8
If, in fact, "From Beer to Eternity" is the last Ministry album to be released then it is a good album to close out their career with. I was impressed with the album as a whole, and felt reminded of what industrial metal is supposed to sound like. The album creates a respectable legacy for Mike Scaccia, who will be sorely missed by me, and I'm sure by many others as well. My favorite tracks from the album are "Change of Luck," "Lesson Unlearned," and surprisingly enough considering the lyrics "Hail to His Majesty (Peasants)." There were no tracks I disliked on the album, but I did feel like "Enjoy the Quiet" was just kind of a space filler on the album. Though, I do have to say that the track has you in a certain state of mind at the end of the album. While I hate to see Ministry end, I'm not sure how I feel about new albums without Mike Scaccia so maybe it is for the best. I'm sure if Al Jourgensen ever decides to make Ministry active again it will be because he finds a guitarist that works for what he is doing. Bottom line is "From Beer to Eternity" is a good high note for Ministry to retire on. Really enjoyable album.