Ministry – AmeriKKKant (Nuclear Blast)
Was there ever any doubt that rock n’ roll’s last great anti-hero would make a Trump record? I mean, this f**king guy made Obama records, for chrissakes. Al Jourgensen does not like authority in any form, but Lord Cheeto really gets under his skin. And so, the gleefully incendiary AmeriKKKant.
It’s been four years since Ministry‘s last album, From Beer to Eternity, which was initially slated to be the band’s swansong, given the sudden on-stage death of guitarist Mike Scaccia. I don’t think anybody ever really believed that, though. Jourgensen can form all the off-shoots and side-projects he wants, but he will always come back to his one true love. And so will Ministry’s fans. If they sat through the sludge-metal slog of Filth Pig, they are clearly gonna hang on until the bitter end. In that regard, Jourgensen and his current arch-nemesis aren’t that different. Trump once boasted that he could shoot somebody on 5th Avenue and his wormy base would still vote for him. Likewise, Jourgensen could make a jazz-fusion record, but if it’s got the Ministry logo on it, his base is gonna lap it up. I am part of that base. I have to be. This is the f**king guy that made Land of Rape and Honey, after all. This was the guy who thought, ‘What if I take this dance-y industrial shit and throw heavy metal guitars over the top?” and then basically exploded the world. The Jesus Built My Hotrod guy. The guy that riled the kids up so much he had to play behind a chain link fence so the band and crowd didn’t kill each other. The guy who drank so much alcohol and did so many drugs in the name of rock n’ roll that he once shit out a helmet’s worth of blood. That guy. If we must allow him some indulgences here and there, so be it. He deserves that much.
And that’s what we get at the top of this, the 14th official Ministry album. Opener I Know Words is a meandering three-minute intro filled with horror flick cello, scratches, and choppy Trump samples. In a world where attention spans no longer even exist, this is some ballsy move. It’s like that old Andy Kaufman TV special, where he spent the first five minutes sitting in a chair telling you to turn off the TV. It’s like an endurance test designed to psyche-out the squares. I wouldn’t do it myself. But I’ve never shit blood.
The album proper begins somewhere in the middle of the next track, Twilight Zone, which mixes the elements of I Know Words with a grinding industrial-metal beat and a flurry of ghost-town harmonica wails. Victims of a Clown is a searing eight-minute descent into gear-grinding darkness, reminiscent of Psalm 69-era machine-metal. Fear Factory main-man Burton Bell pops up on the death metally We’re Tired Of It, which is great if you like death metal, but not so much if you don’t. Wargasm is the last real bit of experimentation on the album. It’s got a post-punk tang and even a bit of a techno beat, but mostly sounds like Jourgenson punching his way out of meat freezer.
Speaking of meat, the album’s single, Antifa, marks the point in the album where Jourgensen finally throws some red meat to his base. Thrashy, propulsive and hook-heavy, the song is classic Ministry, a real rabble-rousing headbanger of a song, complete with shredding guitar solo and enough jet fuel to melt steel beams. AmeriKKKa’s closers, Game Over and the climactic title track, follow in a similar retro-industrial fashion, with plenty of samples, acid-burning guitars and death-disco beats. All in all, a true-to-form industrial rock record, caustic and powerful, with only a few reckless diversions from Ministry’s tried and true formula. Will this album topple this corrupted and debased Establishment? Certainly not. But does it make for a proper soundtrack to our looming armageddon? You’re f**king right it does.
Watch the fiery video for Antifa below.