'From Beer To Eternity'
Gary 'Rockulus' Clarke
The thirteenth studio album, excluding other releases like their covers album 'Cover Up' and compilations like 'Greatest Fits', carries with it a subtle shadow of melancholy and reflection that you won't hear when you press play. 'From Beer to Eternity' is a fun play on words, but is the title of what main man Al Jourgensen has announced is the band's final album.
He is grieving for the sad loss of long serving guitarist Mike Scaccia, who first appeared on a Ministry album back in 1990, playing guitar on the live 'In Case You Didn't Feel Like Showing Up'.
Scaccia had played his guitar parts with the band for the rough version of this latest studio offering which finished on 19th December 2012, when a mere three days later he died from a heart attack during a live performance with his other band called Rigor Mortis in Texas.
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With this insight, it does feel apparent that the extra anguish and emotional pain that the band must have been feeling during the recording process, was indeed invested in each and every chord, beat and syllable expressed. As a consequence you also get an immediate impression of how distracting this personal set back must have been.
'From Beer To Eternity' has an effortless ebb and flow about it which carries the momentum from start to finish. The spirit of 'Psalm 69...' can be heard within the mechanical heart of 'Side Fx Include Mikey's Middle Finger (TV 4)' whilst the grimy soundscape captured on albums like 'Filth Pig' and 'Land Of Rape And Honey' can be heard winding their way throughout the many other tracks here.
One highlight that really caught my ear was 'Lesson Unlearned' which contains a guitar groove and plenty of female distorted vocals. Like a Rob Zombie cameo on a Ministry album, or a collision of Motown with the greasy dirty groove of an industrial version of an eighties era big hair band cranking it up to eleven!
Other highlights that stand out include 'Punch In The Face' and 'Perfect Storm' with their driving guitars and accessible structures, with chorus intact and solid deliveries. On the downside, 'Thanx But No Thanx' provides some jazz in the beats and some deeply mixed lightweight reggae for instrumentation whilst Jourgensen narrates his thoughts and observations before the song then kicks into life properly. I guess patience is a virtue.
The riff sounds tired and over-familiar and the impression that I get is that this is filler, not a vital contribution. 'Change Of Luck' plods along with an almost Arabic style loop in and amongst the steady beat which then makes way for the familiar chugging guitar and stabbing vocal delivery of Jourgensen. It takes about four minutes and fifty four seconds into the song for a surreal outburst of melody which is so refreshing. It's a complete jarring contradiction and simultaneously a rich chorus that floats in on a cushion of dreams.
Final track 'Enjoy The Quiet' is most certainly no relation to the Depeche Mode song 'Enjoy The Silence' as it dribbles layers of samples and voices in conjunction with white noise into the ears.
This album is a battlefield of top draw industrial that makes sense and provides the listener with something to get their proverbial teeth in to, versus the sort of experimental and perhaps over-elaborate progressive noise that simply frustrates and doesn't know what it wants to be!
One of the magic ingredients of the industrial genre is the repetitive and tight song structures which lean on loops, samples and pummelling rhythms with a direct focus. There are several tracks here that share this sentiment, but it's not a classic album by any means.
Perhaps it is like the comparison of watching a game of golf where you find it dull and hard to watch, but it's much better to actually play the sport. In this case, the musicians have really felt a connection with the material because they are creating it and playing it, yet in the role of being a listener to it conjures an unrelated experience?
'From Beer To Eternity' is for hardcore Ministry fans and for those who really enjoy what Jourgensen puts his hands and heart to. For the rest of us I would recommend this album with caution. There's some good stuff on here, but you have to wade through the collection, ducking and diving the beats and samples in order to find it.
Al Jourgensen – vocals, guitar, production, mixing
Mike Scaccia – guitar
Sin Quirin – guitar
Tony Campos – bass
Aaron Rossi – drums
1. 'Hail to His Majesty' 5:17
2. 'Punch in the Face' 5:00
3. 'PermaWar' 4:56
4. 'Perfect Storm' 4:56
5. 'Fairly Unbalanced' 4:15
6. 'The Horror' 3:33
7. 'Side FX Include Mikey's Middle Finger (T.V.4)' 5:14
8. 'Lesson Unlearned' 3:16
9. 'Thanx but No Thanx' 8:21
10. 'Change of Luck' 7:16
11. 'Enjoy the Silence' 2:39