Ministry - AmeriKKKant
It’s usually a good thing when a band that has declared they are finished making albums gives us another one. It’s always a great thing when that album is a great album. Such is the case with Ministry’s "AmeriKKKant". Originally Al Jourgensen said that the last studio record From "Beer to Eternity" (2013) would indeed be the band’s last album. "Eternity" was the also the final record that longtime guitarist Mike Scaccia played on as he died in 2012. A few years later, after Jourgensen had a chance to catch his breath and process his friend’s passing, he said that another album might be a possibility. Here it is. "'AmeriKKKant' will provide FEMA-type relief for the devastation ‘Hurricane Cheeto’ has brought upon us,” Jourgensen declares.
The introduction 'I Know Words' uses slowed down Trump samples, buzzing orchestral instruments, various sound effects, and scratching to set the pace for what is to come: lots of political commentary, heavy guitar, and interesting sounds. The guitar work is excellent. 'Twilight Zone' starts pulverizing us with drums and guitar (and more Trump samples). Jourgensen’s vocals don’t come in for two minutes, so combined with the first track, it’s almost five minutes before we hear directly from him. The delay works well and builds anticipation. Incidentally, is that the same harmonica line as 'Filth Pig?'. 'Victims of a Clown' may be the best track with its deep bass groove. 'TV5/4Chan' is a short interlude with bursts of noise and cuts of television samples. It’s easy to understand why Ministry once worked with writer William S. Burroughs, master of cut-ups and nonlinear narratives. 'We’re Tired of It' is a thrashy stormer. 'Wargasm', another strong track, explores the connections between sex and violence/death—“war is fucking sexy.” 'Antifa' is a grinding song that speeds up. Jourgensen explains, “...sick and tired of dealing with assholes that’s why I resist.” 'Game Over' pulls the tempo—but not the intensity down—a notch and features some prime Jourgensen screams. The title of 'AmeriKKKa' recalls Ice Cube’s debut album as well as reminding us of America’s racist roots and present (Cube’s former N.W.A. bandmate Arabian Prince also appears on the album). The intersection of Ministry and N.W.A. is entirely appropriate. If, as Percy Bysshe Shelley said, “poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world,” then metal and rap artists are the unacknowledged reporters of the world. 'AmeriKKKa' may also be a suggestion of the importance of racial harmony and unity. Divided we fall. It’s a strong finish.
By contemporary standards, it’s a rather short record reaching about 48 minutes in length. However, it’s refreshing to see a band say what they need to say and leave the stage instead of adding in weaker songs simply to reach the hour mark, as if more or longer always means better.
We can debate whether an artist has an obligation to respond to the social, political, and cultural conditions and emergencies of his or her time, but what we know is that a lot of bands opt out of acknowledging or responding to these situations. Whether one finds "AmeriKKKant" too brutal or heavy-handed or not, at least Ministry makes a statement and Jourgensen is not afraid to speak his mind. For a variety of reasons angry men aren’t in fashion right now, but you should make an exception for Uncle Al. Let’s hope that his term isn’t over yet.
If you don’t follow every Ministry album, you’re going to like this album. If you do follow every Ministry album, you’re going to like this album. You’re going to like this Ministry album.
You can find out more about "AmeriKKKant" from Ministry's guitarist Sin Quirin HERE.
Apr 01 2018
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I still buy compact discs.
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