MINISTRY

"Last Tangle in Paris" (13th Planet; 2014)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

What is described in the press materials as the "final live Ministry release," Last Tangle in Paris is an incredible document of the band's final tour (the DeFiBriLaTour) and a tribute to fallen member Mike Scaccia, who passed away of a heart attack in late 2012.

There are several versions of this release, but the release reviewed here is the single-DVD plus two-CD set.

The DVD included here is made up of 12 live tracks recorded in 2012 at the Vic Theater in Chicago ranging from the band's best known classics (i.e., "Psalm '69," "Just One Fix" and "N.W.O.") as well as newer tracks. The audio/video quality is amazing and the band is razor sharp. The DVD also include in-studio, rehearsal and backstage footage as well as interviews with the individual band members and moving tributes to the talented and obviously beloved Scaccia.

On the CD side, "Last Tangle in Paris" includes two full "Retro Live" discs, including recordings taken from the companion DVD as well as classic performances by the band dating all the way back to 2006. As you might imagine, these tracks sound awesome as well with the band delivering their industrial/dance-metal with a powerful thrust and that Al Jourgensen attitude spilling out from every angle.

If this is indeed the final live Ministry release, it's a good one to go out with. I would heartily suggest the DVD+2CD or Blu-Ray+2CD edition although those looking to save a few bucks can go with the DVD or MP3 only versions for a slightly lower price.

Ministry: Al Jourgensen (lead vocal, guitar); Michael Scaccia (guitar); Sin Qurin (guitar); John Bechdel (keyboards and samplers); Aaron Rossi (drums); Casey Orr (bass).

For more information, check out http://www.ministrymusic.org

"From Beer to Eternity" (13th Planet; 2013)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

According to Al Jourgensen, the driving force behind Ministry, "From Beer to Eternity" will be the last Ministry album due to the death of guitarist Mike Scaccia. Take it for what it is: "From Beer to Eternity" could very well be the final chapter of Ministry, in more ways than one. In his book, "Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen" (see review below), Al talks about this stating how the band has ended in more than one way.

The music on "From Beer to Eternity" is classic Ministry. It's heavy, disjointed and full of anger. Al may have moved on from George W. Bush and now has his sights on Barack Obama. (What?! You thought Al hated just conservatives? He hates all government officials who overreach their power).

Highlights from the lowlights: The track "Perfect Storm" is one killer tune! The riff is Ministry all the way and the solo ... well, I had to stop writing this review and rewind it. Man o' man, that was blistering! "Fairly Unbalanced" is about Fox News, obviously against their motto of "Fair and Balanced." "From Beer to Eternity" is still politically fuelled but I don't hear the same vitriol that I once did. In a way, I like it more for the music than the message anyway. Fans of Ministry can always go back and refuel on the old stuff since this is the last Ministry disc ... at least so far.

For more information, check out http://www.ministrymusic.org

"Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen" (De Capo Press; 2013)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

Most of the time you can tell what an artist thinks by the lyrics they write. If anybody was unclear about how Al Jourgensen thought or felt about George W. Bush,  then you've never listened to their music or felt Al's rage against him and his administration. It almost became a neverending tirade of hatred but, times change and we all need a new villain to hate. Cue up whomever you want that to be for now. In this book, Al chronicles his rise to fame (which he never wanted) and his descent into drugs (which he couldn't stop) and his life (he's lived a thousand of them and killed them twice as many times).

"The Lost Gospels..." is mostly a drug fueled autopsy ... oops, I mean, biography. Al talks about drugs, buying them, doing them and doing them again and again. I found it hard to read at times, some of it almost made me sick, but once you get past all that you'll be able to see the music come out and how Ministry was born and re-born. There are interviews with people such as his stepfather Ed Jourgensen, Luc Van Acker of the Revolting Cocks, Sascha Konietzko of KMFDM and, of course, his wife Angie Lukacin-Jourgensen.

Each album is discussed -- how they made it and sometimes how they made it through it. Tours are highlighted. The depravity and debauchery are given in detail and most of it is pretty weird stuff. Of course, you have Al's take on how it all happened, as much as he can remember, and he remembers more than he'd like to. Chapter 18 discusses the last Ministry record, "From Beer To Eternity," which led up to his guitar player dying and Al's struggle with addiction.

One thing about Al is true: He's a survivor. He may have the scars, the cuts and the missing teeth but they are his own. He doesn't blame anybody for his actions and he doesn't apologize for anything he said or did. He's a pioneer and you don't get to be that without doing things other people won't. Paragraph testimonies litter the front and back jacket cover of artists who look up to Al for inspiring them. Without Ministry you would not have had Nine Inch Nails and many many others.

For more information, check out http://www.ministrymusic.org

"Cover Up" (13th Planet / Megaforce; 2008)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

After ferociously raging about the Bush administration on his last three albums, Al Jourgenson took his next record to another place: the world of cover albums. "Cover Up" is, as its title implies, a collection of cover songs performed by Ministry.

What's perhaps most surprising about "Cover Up" is the song collection. Of the eleven songs on the CD (not counting bonus tracks), most of these tracks have been covered before ... and often. The Rolling Stones' "Under My Thumb," Deep Purple's "Highway Star," "Mississippi Queen" by Mountain being the most obvious choices. There's nothing wrong with covering songs that have been covered before, it's just sort of curious that someone as edgy as Al Jourgenson would choose such familiar tracks.

Regardless of whether they've been covered before or not, you've never heard cover versions like these. Jourgenson and guests stamp each track with their own unique style, giving each familiar song a thrill of newness by instilling it with that industrial Ministry sound. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the most successful tunes are those most unlike Ministry to begin with: "Under My Thumb," "Black Betty" and "Lay Lady Lay" being the best examples. A cover of The Doors' "Roadhouse Blues" (which was originally featured on "The Last Sucker") is also a standout.

Fans of cover song collections and fans of Ministry will definitely find "Cover Up" to their taste. Those looking to discover what Ministry is really all about might do better to start elsewhere.

For more information, check out http://www.ministrymusic.org

"The Last Sucker" (13th Planet / Megaforce; 2007)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

"The Last Sucker," the third chapter in Al Jourgensen's Anti-Bush Administration trilogy, comes out of the gates burning, delivering another fury-infused dose of industrial metal that blazes everything in its path.

I'm not one for too much politics in my music, but Jourgensen's genuine disgust and rage is a catalyst on this CD, as it was on the previous two parts of the trilogy ("Houses of the Mole," "Rio Grande Blood"). Whether you agree with his views or not, it's almost impossible not to get caught up in the driving intensity of "The Last Sucker." (Almost, but -- as staunch Bush supporters will tell you -- not completely impossible). 

Unlike the previous two CDs, however, "The Last Sucker" also has an edge of despair to it. One almost gets the feeling that Jourgensen's spirit has been broken by what he considers the evils and failures of the Bush Administration. The burning anger is still there but there's also the sense that the damage has been done and it's too late to do anything about it. The announcement that this will be Ministry's last album only adds to that sense of sad resignation.

Still, fans of the band's previous efforts will not be disappointed. Ministry may be going away, but they're not going away with a whimper; they're going out with a full-on rebel yell.

For more information, check out http://www.ministrymusic.org

"Rio Grande Blood" (Megaforce; 2006)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

The biggest problem with Ministry's "Rio Grande Blood" is that main Ministry man Al Jourgensen hems and haws through the CD, never really letting you know where he stands on the issues, especially when it comes to President George W. Bush and his administration.

Okay, anybody who knows anything about Al Jourgensen knows that the above paragraph is pure and unadulterated bullshit. "Rio Grande Blood," as you may have intimated from the title, is an angry, passionate, vicious and decidedly pointed attack on the President and his policies. Jourgensen and crew don't just hint about what they think about George W., they jackhammer it out at you with rapid fire guitars and raging vocals all set to a breakneck pace.

Unlike previous Ministry albums, at least to my memory, "Rio Grande Blood" is more of a thrash album than an industrial album, although the industrial elements are certainly here. It's biggest obstacle, however, is it's subject matter. Unlike other politically charged albums, you can't ignore the sentiment here. If you disagree with Jourgensen, you're probably not going to like this CD. Unlike the Dixie Chicks, Jourgensen doesn't just cry foul when called on his political beliefs. Instead, he responds with a resounding "Fuck you!"

Jello Biafra makes an appearance on track 9, "Ass Clown."

For more information, check out http://www.ministrymusic.org

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2014 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 15 Mar 2017 23:33:44 -0500.