Album Review : Ministry - AmeriKKKant (2018)
I was low-key entertained over the last year by the crippling failure of major recording artists like Marilyn Manson and Eminem at making politicized, anti-Trump music. Both released abysmal albums where they sure gave their piece of mind about the current political climate. What is there about having a disconnected, morally bankrupt orange monster for president that transforms our edgy and controversial mainstream artists into toothless whiners? That is a question Ministry's new album AmeriKKKant sure didn't answer, but it sure laid the framework of how to make anti-Trump music.
Because this shit is THE BOMB.
AmeriKKKant is loaded with interesting ideas both musically and conceptually. I loved how Al Jourgensen wasn't afraid to mix Ministry's trademark bombastic drums and guitars with fucked up samples that range from Donald Trump quotes to Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator on the song Victims of a Clown, subtly drawing parallels between the two eras. Perhaps my favorite detail, though is the inclusion of organic, old school instrument such as violin and harmonica. It gives the song an eerie feel of melancholia, like you'd hear the ghost from past America on the record. Such sophisticated details on such an angry and overpowering album is what makes the music come to life.
The second half of the album, staring with the song Wargasm is more classic industrial metal. It's where Al Jourgensen reverts to his comfort zone in order to focus on the message. The lyrics on AmeriKKKant are very blunt and not always edifying, but their delivery is as important as their content. We're not snowflakes/We are the Antifa is not a nuanced chorus by any means, but it has a great anthemic value. It's something you rally behind and sign during group confrontation and I believe it was Al Jourgensen's intent on this album. AmeriKKKant is music to pump yourself up to. A soundtrack to rally behind.
But why does Ministry succeed where Marilyn Manson and Eminem have failed?
Well, they didn't change who they are. Ministry has always been an angry, antagonistic and politicized band at heart, so this disastrous administration only play to their strengths. Also, Al Jourgensen didn't try to turn good like a WWE wrestler. He stuck to his guns and kept prophesying doom and chaos, which has been Ministry's bread and butter for close to three decades. He's also being nasty and demeaning to Donald Trump, taking his voice hostage in samples, deforming it and forcing it into his narrative. Jourgensen refused to be a victim of the political climate on AmeriKKKant. He's rising up to the occasion and does what he does best.
AmeriKKKant is a very good album. It's not perfect or transcendent. Some of the lyrics are a little short sighted and overeager and the last half feels a little rushed at times, but it's a multidimensional, oddly sophisticated and thoroughly brutal industrial record. It's angry and violent marching music. An emotional discharge meant to provide you the necessary courage and anger to confront a government crooked and morally bankrupt enough to fit Ministry's angry and revolted worldview. We're here. We're finally in this bizarre dystopia we were all afraid of and Ministry are here to help us work our way out of it.
Say what you want on them, but they're a band who understand their purpose.