Following guitarist Mike Scaccia’s untimely passing in 2012, Al Jourgensen has announced plans for one final Ministry tour. For the fans. For Mikey.
I first encountered Ministry in the summer of 2009. A live version of The Last Sucker appeared on a Metal Hammer cover-mount CD (issue 196, if you must know), and it blew my face all over my meticulously clean bedroom. It was like listening to Slayer… and Nine Inch Nails… and Skinny Puppy… but better. After changing into some new pants and picking my brains from the wallpaper, an investigation soon begun - five years later, I remain a dyed-in-the-wool fan
So just imagine my excitement when Al Jourgensen announced plans to tour the final Ministry album, From Beer To Eternity, and play it in full. I went mental. Full-on, table-flipping mental. This is a band that has, for better or worse, influenced just about everyone in heavy music; they’re name-checked by Slipknot, Nine Inch Nails, Anthrax, Korn and even Linkin Park when it comes down to influence. Their politically scathing brand of industrial metal remains unchallenged to this day, with nobody even coming close to touching their level of intellectual clout and Al’s knack for a tune. They are legends.
Yet still people are unhappy: many have gripes with the fact that From Beer To Eternity will take up nearly an hour of the setlist. The album is by no means my favourite Ministry release, but it’s still an absolute corker – seeing Mikey and Al’s final creation played live will be truly spectacular for fans and sceptical goblins alike. Plus, some of Ministry’s now-revered albums were panned upon release, yet the infamous Filth Pig and Dark Side Of The Spoon are now considered two of the band’s finest LPs.
With so many uneducated trolls exhuming cries of “I only listen to the early stuff!” on the internet, you could be forgiven for thinking Ministry are no longer relevant. You would, of course, be wrong. Psalm 69 may have been the band’s commercial peak, but it was in no way the pinnacle of their creativity. That is entirely up to the listener; whether you prefer the bare-bones approach of Animositisomina or the industrial thrash hybrid of The Last Sucker Ministry are seldom short of ideas. Okay, so Relapse wasn’t the comeback we were hoping for, but it remains a single dud in an otherwise flawless back-catalogue.
Basically, Ministry touring again is nothing but a good thing. You can bitch and moan all you like, but the fact that Al is willing to haul himself on the road again for the fans and for Mikey speaks volumes about the man. At 55 years old and with a body ravaged by drugs, tumours and all manner of horrors, we should just be grateful that he gets out of bed in the morning. Al Jourgensen is a true gent and completely unsurpassed in the art of bending the boundaries of metal – I for one will be attending Ministry’s final shows to give this legend the true send-off he deserves. See you in the pit.