Ministry – From Beer to Eternity (AFM Records)

A fitting end for a criminally underrated band.
Release Date: 
6 Sep 2013 (All day)

From Beer to Eternity (let’s get this out of the way early: it’s a shitty album title) is Ministry’s 13th studio album and the last to feature long-time guitarist Mike Scaccia. Three days after the band had completed the sessions for the album, Scaccia died of a heart attack onstage while playing with his band Rigor Mortis. Whether From Beer to Eternity is actually Ministry’s swansong or not (mainman Al Jourgensen has disbanded the group numerous times, and announced ‘final albums’ on more than one occasion), while it isn’t the greatest Ministry album, it’s far from being the worst, and proves to be a fitting testament to a criminally underrated band.

The best Ministry albums were released with Bushes in the White House: The incomparable Psalm 69 (with Bush senior sampled prominently in New World Order), and the anti-George W. Bush trilogy of Houses of the Molé, Rio Grande Blood, and The Last Sucker. Given the explicitly political lyrical leanings of the band, it’s no surprise that Ministry is at its best when Al has something (and someone) to rail against, a focal point for the anger and satiric barbs.

From Beer to Eternity manages to avoid the failings of previous non-Bush-era Ministry albums, for the most part managing to maintain a sense of purposeful indignation without falling into self-parody. The album starts with the mid-tempo slugging of Hail to His Majesty, a bombastic fanfare fitting to introduce the band, before the pace kicks up a notch with the flying hooks of album highlight Punch in the Face. The thrash-influenced Fairly Unbalanced, takes some all-too-easy potshots at the Fox network and The Horror continues on similar lines, featuring looped samples of Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock’s statement that pregnancy from rape is something God intended.

Compared to the some of Ministry’s previous work, this sort of thing felt a bit cheap, with Jourgensen at times seemingly berating some hollow straw men (really, no-one except for fools and lunatics take Fox News seriously) rather than taking aim at the abuses of those in power. But this is a very small criticism of what is, on the whole, a fantastic album. It really is impossible not to be entertained by the grotesque grandiloquence on display here. The album flows beautifully, with nary a moment that isn’t densely layered in cannily cut-up samples, and shiningly produced metal so polished that it positively gleams with uniquely bombastic grandeur.