Review Summary: "I realized I hate all you motherfuckers again! Have a shitty day!"
At this point, nobody is expecting a successful comeback from Ministry anymore. Last year's Relapse
was a frenetic yet stale affair that portrayed a band getting lost in all the available studio equipment, churning riffs to kill some time. That record not only rehashed everything the Bush trilogy had already exhausted, but it also took the tunes to an absurd pace, losing whatever groove and feel that mess might have had in the first place. Then, towards the end of the year, after a month of recording demos for a new full length, long time collaborator, Mike Scaccia, unexpectedly passed away. Citing him as the only reason for reforming Ministry in the first place, front man Al Jourgensen decided it was once more time to call it quits, forever this time.
The result of those final tracking sessions became From Beer To Eternity
, a record that actually feels like a proper farewell. Even though it's not essential Ministry, it acts more like a puzzle built from several pieces of the band's discography. The majority of the songs can be inserted onto past efforts without noticing any differences. Examples include the frantic 'Fairly Unbalanced', that could have been a B-side from the Houses Of The Molé
era, 'Perfect Storm' from The Last Sucker
one or 'The Horror', an experiment that would've belonged on The Land Of Rape And Honey
. At a first listen, this jukebox aspect can be a positive thing, since the band had quite a good run and switched several styles throughout the decades. However, upon closer inspection, this thing reveals itself as the main flaw, FBTE
failing to carve a personality of its own. Even if the tunes sound as if recorded by a band again, not machines, this is only a covered ground revisit, not a step forward.
Fortunately, much like Ministry's best releases, the album shares a good dose of dementia. This is mostly evident on the insane riffing on 'Side F/X Include Mikey's Middle Finger (TV 4)', the fourth installment in the long running 'TV' series. Over the television ad samples and stop-start patterns, Jourgensen screams his lungs out proclaiming 'I feel like ***!'. It doesn't have the same impact as 'TV II', but at least it's fun. Besides this, after a first half of familiar ground, they finally branch out and experiment more: 'Thanx But No Thanx' and 'Change Of Luck' are two moody epics that bring something fresh to the table: the former mixes some cool, laid-back dub with mid-tempo riffing, while the latter, dedicated to Scaccia, offers a prolonged, mandolin-assisted jam with melodic choruses. Uncle Al also diversifies his delivery adding some spoken word and clean vocals, along with his usual vitriolic growl. Another noteworthy track is 'Lesson Unlearned', a short number similar to the Animositisomina
material, on which the sampled female vocals and repetitive guitar patterns add an industrial vibe that was long overdue in the band's recent output.
In the end, is nice to hear Ministry sounding more organic again, even with a slight identity crisis. Still, it's clear that Jourgensen isn't going to push things any further. He, along with a myriad of contributors, crossed genres for decades, however, he's been visibly running out of steam for at least a couple of years now. The man obviously doesn't have enough inspiration and strength anymore to move on from the current sound and venture once more into the unknown. In a way it's nice to at least see him and the guys trying, as evidenced on the interesting second half, but rather than compiling subpar material for the sake of it, it's better to finally call it a day.