Thursday, 29 March 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Ministry, "AmeriKKKant"

By: John Reppion

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 09/03/2018
Label: Nuclear Blast Records

“AmeriKKKant” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. I Know Words
2. Twilight Zone
3. Victims of a Clown
4. TV5/4Chan
5. We’re Tired of It
6. Wargasm
7. Antifa
8. Game Over
9. AmeriKKKa

The Review:

This isn’t the future we were promised. They said there’d be jet-packs, and flying cars, and hover-skateboards, and self tying shoe-laces, and, and, and…” Yes, the films, and the TV shows all lied. As it turns out, our timeline is less Back to the Future II, more Orwell’s 1984. You know who, in a weird way, seems to have known exactly what the 21st Century would be all about, though? Al Jourgenson and Ministry, that’s who.

Ever since their 1992 anthem “N.W.O.” sampled the then president, George H. W. Bush, Ministry have been pedalling an anti-authoritarian, anti-right-wing American message. And ever since “N.W.O.”, they’ve been hacking up the words of US presidents, and incorporating them into their patented brand of drink and drug fuelled industrial-metal. This approach culminated in the band’s early 2000s anti-Bush (junior) trilogy of albums: “Houses of the MolĂ©” (2004), “Rio Grande Blood” (2006), and “The Last Sucker” (2007). Ministry officially split in 2008, but continued to release re-mixed and previous recorded material fairly steadily. Then Uncle Al came back with all new material for 2012’s “Relapse”, which was soon followed up with a definitely, absolutely, unequivocally, final album (their thirteenth studio album, in case you were wondering) entitled “From Beer to Eternity” in 2013. And that was Ministry done. Over. Dead.

Then, on the ninth of November 2016 it was announced, much to the amazement of many, many people in the world that Donald J. Trump was going to be the next president of the United States of America. Trump the king of the idiotic sound-bite. Trump the liar; the “lets’ build a wall around Mexico and make them pay for it” guy; the ex-reality TV star; Trump the alt-right’s leader of choice.  Had Al Jourgenson somehow tragically lost his life post 2013, I feel there’s a genuine chance Trump’s presidency would have resurrected him. His deadlocked, leather-clad corpse clawing its way through the earth, bursting forth from the grave screaming “GET ME TO THE FUCKIN’ STUDIO, NOW!”. 

AmeriKKKant” is the album that brought Ministry back from the dead. Again.

Trump’s infamous words “we will make America great again” – suitably warped and fucked with – are the first thing we hear on opening track “I Know Words”: the ominous, middle eastern influenced, instrumental (save for all the Trump samples) introduction to the album. “Twilight Zone” is a weighty, plodding industri-stomp, very much in the “Scarecrow” mould. It too, features plenty of Trump samples, and a good dollop of that harmonica which crops up in more Ministry tracks than you remember.
When the bass comes in on “Victims of a Clown”, you could be forgiven for thinking you were listening to something off of 1989’s “The Mind is a Terrible thing to Taste”. This is very much classic Ministry, with the scratching of new member, turntablist DJ Swamp, the only real indicator that this isn’t some lost pre 90s off-cut.

Eight minutes(!) or so in, we get a final blast of the higher BMP industri-thrash stuff more associated with latter Ministry (and with much of the output of Al’s most recent side-project Surgical Meth Machine). That Burton C. Bell fella out of Fear Factory (remember them?) growls “Hey! What he say? Vomiting conspiracies. God damn the racist blind. Anti social impotence ignites”.

“TV 5-4 Chan” continues the tradition of short, sharp, “TV” titled tracks which have graced their albums since the early 90s. This time guns, racism, and white nationalist are the targets. It segues into “We’re Tired of It” which is an up-tempo thrash diatribe against “Fucking insane Christian Hypocrisy”, with Bell on vocals once again. “Wargasm” is more very classic sounding Ministry, with a chorus reminiscent of 1996’s “The Fall”. Samples talking about “the people’s war” and “the mother of all bombs”… you get the idea. “Antifa” is a chug-along anti-fascist anthem “Brown shirt little snowflakes never want to admit, Terrified of the red and black flag, Antifa's the shit”. Enough said. Oh, you want to know which old Ministry song it sounds like? A bit like “Just One Fix”, I suppose.

Closers “Game Over”, and title track “AmeriKKKant”, are a pair of mid-paced, somewhat more reflective songs. The rage of earlier tracks turned to despair at the inevitability of  just how fucked we, America, and the world as a whole actually are. There is a nice brass section in “AmeriKKKant” to offset that slightly, though. “It's like the Nazis back in '39, Like the Romans on the verge of decline. Like the Russians back in '68, How is this supposed to make America great?”

Jourgenson has referred to “AmeriKKKant” in recent interviews as “Pink Floyd on meth”. Yes, it’s a concept album, and yes several of the tracks do have rather excessive running times, but ultimately this is a Ministry album. I’m not going to say “just” a Ministry album, because that would be doing Al and company a disservice, but it’s 100% a Ministry album. Have you heard previous Ministry albums and enjoyed them? Good, then this is another one of those. Yes, some will argue that not much has changed musically in the Ministry camp for some twenty-odd years, but what’s even weirder is to think that US politics has somehow become more regressive in that time. If it feels like you’ve heard this all before, then maybe that’s just because Al Jourgenson has been right all along.

“AmeriKKKant” is available here

Band info: facebook