Industrial Metal veterans Ministry are back with a new album, and it’s as inflammatory as anything they’ve ever produced. Frontman “Uncle” Al Jourgensen has always been politically outspoken, but has this time specifically crafted an album that he describes as an apology to his European fans for being so wrong about the improbability of the election of US President Donald Trump. Accordingly, ‘AmeriKKKant’ is as much a manifesto as it is an album, with lyrics used only sparingly in favour of sampled political and media statements.
The album begins with I Know Words, immediately presenting the distorted voice of Trump proclaiming, “We will make America great again.” Haunting string melodies lead the music, over droning sounds evocative of military aircraft. The strings have a somewhat Middle Eastern feel, and build up the tension as the rumbling and distorted Trump quotes continue, including the repetition of the word “War.” Towards the end of the track, the first of many “mash-ups” of quotes occurs, with Trump seeming to tell the listener, “We will make America stupid.”
As the music moves seamlessly into Twilight Zone, the strings become discordant, but still maintain something of the Middle Eastern flavour. Slow, heavy drums pound over the top of barely audible quotes, including “How stupid are the people of the country?” and the repetition of words like “terrorists.” Far from club Industrial Metal, this is more performance art, with Jourgensen’s lyrics few and far between. Deeper in the track, the melody is largely carried by harmonica over the droning guitars. Twilight Zone is long and repetitive, but rewards attentive listening with its nuance for the first five minutes or so, while the latter part of the track errs more to the repetitive than the nuanced until the classic, first-wave Industrial elements really kick in.
The music takes on an appropriately carnivalesque quality as it segues into Victims of a Clown, underneath further sampled quotes about greed and depravity. This track builds slowly into bass-driven Industrial Metal courtesy of Tony Campos, and almost has a mid-90s feel along the lines of the soundtrack to The Crow. Bold and dense, Victims of a Clown cycles between exultant sections of music that would be choruses if there were vocals, and more downbeat verse-like sections; but as with most of the rest of the album, is heavily vested in spoken samples.
TV 5-4 Chan is a disorienting interlude of static, channel changes, gunshots and quotes about violence and racism, leading into the fast and Thrash-like stylings of We’re Tired of it. The punishing guitars and drums of Sin Qirin, Cesar Soto and Derek Abrams are quite reminiscent of Slayer as the track builds into the culminating repetitive statement of “Hope is lost.”
After the blistering pace of We’re Tired of it, Wargasm drops back into rumbling, bass-driven Industrial. Wargasm stands out as a more typical Ministry track, particularly in the style and cadence of Jourgensen’s vocals with its more melodic chorus. Abrams’ drums meanwhile are a tad reminiscent of Disturbed. The sampled quotes have been particularly heavily “remixed” in this track, fetishising weaponry and destruction as they describe the beauty of fearsome weapons.
Antifa is a similar track, also using discordant, disconcerting, and distorted samples alongside traditional Ministry music. By now the messages of violence are clear, with a crowd chanting, “What do we want?” “Violence!” “When do we want it?” “Now!”
Game Over is downbeat and drum-focused, building into an intense, climactic piece alongside Jourgensen’s vocals and very heavy guitars. In fact, Abrams’ drums almost sound like gunshots in this track. As the song builds into the culminating statement “Our country will continue to suffer,” it takes on an almost Groove Metal sound.
The album wraps up with AmeriKKKa, another Thrash-influenced track. This time the feeling is more Megadeth than Slayer. However, the track overall keeps a slower pace, with a meandering guitar solo and a bit more of a Southern groove.
Jourgensen has never cared much for expectations, and for many ‘AmeriKKKant’ will no doubt be a shock to the system – but that’s entirely the point. ‘AmeriKKKant’ is designed to shake the listener out of complacency and open their eyes to the corruption of the US political system, and does an excellent job of doing so. While it may not be an album listeners will return to on a regular basis, it’s one they’ll remember.
MINISTRY’S ‘AMERIKKKANT’ IS AVAILABLE MARCH 9 FROM NUCLEAR BLAST. PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY HERE!