Ministry - The Last Sucker
Release Date: September 18, 2007
Record Label: 13th Planet / Megaforce Records
Pissed off as ever, Ministry return for what is hyped to be their last album. Al Jourgenson seems to want to leave an impression, seeing as everything on here is like a bigger version of itself: the guitar is heavier, this time with Zack Wylde-caliber pinch harmonics thrown into the mix; the sampled dialog and Bush bashing is more upfront and ridiculous than ever before (almost to the point of being annoying); and hovering above it all are the vocals, double or triple tracked, snarling like there’s no tomorrow, since, for Ministry, there isn’t.
Since the album comes complete with some of 2007’s most interesting album art featuring an enhanced image that’s either a headshot of the president or an angry dragon/monster(?) depending on the angle, I’ll let it slide that it takes so little effort to criticize George Bush right now. I mean, look at him.
Still, as with any political band during the Dubya administration (which is basically everybody), albums like this walk the line between socially aware and preachy. Ministry’s last couple of albums meandered into the latter a bit too often to keep the listener’s attention where it should be: on the monstrous Slayer guitar riffs. And while The Last Sucker isn’t at all a departure from that anarcho vibe, this time lyrics take a backseat to the music. Everything just has a better sticking value and feels less thrown together, even if the album would be a notch or two better without the constant dialogue breaks.
The content is pretty solid right from the start with ferocious industrial battle cry after ferocious industrial battle cry, and it can certainly be argued that this is an album that gets better as it goes on. The second half of the album kicks off with what might be the most ridiculous Doors cover of all time – if you forget that Amorphis covered “Light My Fire.” Their furious, mile-a-minute double bass smash of a tribute to “Roadhouse Blues” converts what was once a crazy-simple guitar riff into a maddeningly difficult one while keeping the harmonica solo fully intact.
And even longtime Ministry fans will be surprised by the Pantera grooves of “End of Days 1” – is that synth cowbell? – and its drawn out, Psalm 69-ish counterpart “End of Days 2,” which clocks in at a massive 10:25. I can’t think of a better way to end an album or, for that matter, a career. Ministry hasn’t sounded this fresh in a long time.
Where Rio Grande Blood was more or less a rehash of signature Ministry sounds that stumbled and fell over its own clichés, The Last Sucker is a fully realized metal masterpiece. It’s hard to believe it was made more than 25 years into the Ministry catalog, and it’s even harder to believe that it’s the end.