Review Summary: Ministry don't go out at the top of their game. Instead they prove beyond a doubt that they're running out of ideas, and it's time to quit.
What can you say about a band that you really like when they announce that they’re releasing their final album? You could just hope that they’ll eventually come out of retirement for the inevitable cash-grab/reunion tour or you can simply look back on their past fondly. In my mind, Ministry
is a band with four distinct eras and two peaks. The first era would be their techno-pop beginnings of which I choose to ignore. The second era would be when they entered into the realm of Industrial Metal and also features their first peak with the album The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste
. The third era would be what I refer to as the dark ages of Ministry
and starts with the lackluster Filth Pig
. The dark ages were finally broken with the release of Houses of the Mol
which ushered in their fourth and final era when the quality returned to their music, and also brought about their second peak with the album, Rio Grande Blood
Now even if you’ve somehow missed the big red three at the top corner of this review, the fact that I just referred to their previous album as another peak lets you know that this album is not Ministry
going out at the top of their game. There’s just something wrong about this album, almost as if the band were just going through the motions. The riffs just seem kind of boring and uninspired. They're good heavy riffs for the most part, but there's nothing that is going to stand out by the close of this album. The rest of the music, from the beats to the industrial influences, follow the same kind of solid, yet uninspired feel as the guitar riffs.
The album starts out promising enough with the song, “Let’s Go”. It begins with a few samples before jumping right in with a high energy riff and Al’s distorted vocals, but by the end of the song there’s just this feeling as if something was missing. The second track doesn’t help things very much as the main riff is fairly boring and the song doesn’t seem to go anywhere. Even an increased industrial influence in the beat doesn’t do much to help this song. With the next two tracks, “Life is Good” and “The Dick Song”, the level of quality picks up considerably. The riffs are well written and inspired, the beats are hard hitting and diverse, and the songs have enough variance to make them interesting from start to finish. In fact, it can safely be said that “The Dick Song” is one of my favorite Ministry
songs of all time. It starts out with another sample before breaking in with one of the heaviest and coolest riffs to ever grace a Ministry
song. Over that, Al’s distorted vocals come in sounding more pissed off then he has in years. After a few moments, the song picks up speed, Al’s vocals change up their sound, and it just continues to just be heavy and suck you in with its slight groove and catchiness.
From there, though, the quality takes another drop with the title track. The song is slow and plodding and the main riff sounds like something that could have been rejected from Motley Crue
’s Dr. Feelgood
album. It’s with this song that the realization sets in that the songs just seem to feel rushed, as if there was a “good enough” attitude while writing this album. After the disappointing title track, the quality picks back up to the levels they were at on the first two tracks, but all that means is passable, but uninspired, guitar riffs, shots at the administration, and a general feeling that something is missing. Some people have referred to the ten minute closing track, “End of Days Pt. 2”, as one of the best songs Ministry
has ever done, but I don’t see it. It starts out with a repetitive rock riff, a slow beat and clean spoken vocals, with children singing the song title in the background before a solo comes in that, although well played, is too little too late for this album. Besides, after the solo it goes right back into the same riff, with Al’s distorted vocals, and random political sound bytes with absolutely no change for over ten minutes.
There are quite a few things that bother me about this album, but it is still a good album overall. The problem arises due to the fact that it is below the standards most Ministry
fans have come to expect again since Houses of the Mol
. Despite the rating, I think this album will end up being purchased (or acquired) by a lot of Ministry
fans simply because it is their final album. If it was not their final album then most, including me, would probably avoid it. For those that don’t really have an opinion on Ministry
or simply don’t like them, then you can safely avoid this album, although I’d still recommend tracking down, “The Dick Song.” For the rest, pick this up when you don’t have other purchase options and you’ll find a solid Industrial Metal offering despite it just going through the motions, but by the end of it you’ll probably find yourself agreeing with Al that it definitely was time to hang it up before it was too late.