Ministry, ‘From Beer to Eternity’ – Album Review
Well, they’ve always said the third time is a charm, right? Ministry are back with their latest “final” album. After disbanding in 2008, mainman Al Jourgensen stated there would never be a reunion and that ‘The Last Sucker’ was indeed the last Ministry album. He said that Ministry takes up too much time, that he had six other bands he was responsible for, and could release seven albums in a year if he did not have to focus on Ministry. Two albums later, here we are with ‘From Beer to Eternity.’
The album opens up with ‘Hail to His Majesty’ and can be taken as a lengthy introduction where Jourgensen takes time to denounce the world and tell everyone to perform unspeakable acts on his unmentionables. The mid-tempo slugging is a familiar element from the Ministry sound. However, that pace quickly changes with ‘Punch in the Face.’ The song is trademark Ministry through and through, aligning with the more metalized output of the band in the mid 2000s.
‘From Beer to Eternity’ can easily be divided into two sections. The first part is the distinctly heavy songs like the chugging groove moshers ‘PermaWar’ and ‘Perfect Storm’ and the faster, thrashier ‘Fairly Unbalanced,’ which takes shots at the Fox News network. This comes as no surprise as Jourgensen has denounced Republicans on numerous albums, most noticeably criticizing former president George W. Bush. ‘The Horror’ continues this criticism, utilizing looped samples of Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock’s statement that pregnancy from rape is something God intended.
‘Side F/X Include Mikey’s Middle Finger (TV 4)’ is a schizophrenic song that constantly drops the drumming entirely to create a manic stop and start pace. Easily the fastest track on the album, ‘Side F/X’ is constantly chopped up by samples of drug commercials explaining side effects toward the middle of the song. This track also serves as a dividing line on the album where the intensity suddenly drops off for more spacious elements of the music.
‘Lesson Unlearned’ is a typical industrial song and features female vocals here and there. ‘Thanx But No Thanx’ sees the return of Sgt. Major, who appeared on the song ‘Gangreen’ off 2006’s ‘Rio Grande Blood.’ Sgt. Major recites the poem ‘A Thanksgiving Prayer’ by William S. Burroughs that thanks the government for shameful aspects of the country. The song has a peculiar reggae tinge to it with some noisy percussion peppered in to maintain some sort of chaotic element. Later on, the distorted guitar returns with a fun riff and Jourgensen shouted the song title, ending with Sgt. Major stating “thanks for the drugs” as the song drops back down into the reggae swagger.
One of the more peculiar songs here in ‘Change of Luck.’ A Middle Eastern melody is looped in the first half of the track as electronic effects twitch in and out to give ebb and flow to the pacing. Like the previous song, the guitar makes an appearance later on with Jourgensen again shouting the title before the motif of the song comes back into play. The end of the song is a bit uplifting, with Jourgensen saying, ‘You’re looking for a change / It’s gonna go from bad to strange.” The final track ‘Enjoy the Quiet’ is a bit tongue in cheek with static and layered samples permeating the mix before Sgt. Major passes along a message from ‘Big Al,’ instructing you to “enjoy the quiet now.”
Al Jourgensen has stated that ‘From Beer to Eternity’ will concretely be the final album from the influential industrial project Ministry. This statement has more power to it based on the sad and untimely death of guitarist and collaborator Mike Scaccia, who was also one of Al’s closest friends. While it may seem that the Ministry founder is unable to stay away from his most revered project, it is quite possible that this is the end of the road. If it truly is the last Ministry album, ‘From Beer to Eternity’ is an excellent parting shot from the band and is a fitting farewell. Thanx, Big Al.