March 8, 2018 Ministry – AmeriKKKant (Album Review)
The restless creative spirit of the Cuban-American Singer-Songwriter and Musician Al Jourgensen has made the music of his band Ministry an epitome of stylistic diversity and shock impact, constantly breaking boundaries and challenging the respective beliefs and perceptions of the conservative and the uptight. That is how true visionaries roll their sleeves. They observe, form their views, express these in their chosen mediums, and try to leave a huge impression and create an asteroidal mirage.
That is how the latest album of Ministry will most likely come across. It will be a case of love it or hate it. Lyrics are, after all, just another instrument – meant to incense or to be heard or listened to, but not necessarily to be followed nor adhered to. Besides, everyone should have the right to express his thoughts, feelings, and opinions – including Jourgensen – so long as the chosen manner of expression is not physically harmful to others and to the world at large. After all, stripped of all its lyrical sentiments, music is just sonic art, which can stir the individual soul and touch its heartstrings in various ways.
Formed in 1981, in Chicago, Illinois, United States, by Jourgensen, Ministry may be regarded as one of the early purveyors of Synthpop music. However, it did not stay in that musical sphere for long. The intensity of Jourgensen caused Ministry naturally to evolve into something brash and fiery – and Industrial Metal is the usual direction that many former Synthpop pioneers who have a seething philosophy to deliver end up pursuing. What was used to be comparable to the likes of Depeche Mode (“Master and Servant”), Soft Cell (“Tainted Love”), and The Human League (“The Lebanon”) has transformed into a powerhouse as assertive and intimidating as Skinny Puppy (“Dig It”), Nine Inch Nails (“Terrible Lie”), and Gwar (“Let Us Slay”). That is Ministry now for the masses, who has released 13 studio albums since its formation, from 1983’s Synthpop-styled With Sympathy to 2013’s metallic fury of From Beer to Eternity.
Now, five years after that last offering and Jourgensen’s mourning period for the death of his friend and bandmate, Guitarist Mike Scaccia; who died in December 2012 due to heart attack, Ministry is back with another concoction of cacophonous and mind-mincing tracks that are sure to conquer or divide, especially in this age of extreme political differences and glaring technological advancements and malfunctions.
Slated for release on March 9, 2018, on Nuclear Blast Records, Ministry’s 14th is simply but brazenly titled AmeriKKKant. It opens with the weird, violin-led, Classical-flavored, Wagner-reminiscent “I Know Words,” which is an obvious parody on the political slogan of the current U.S. president—“We will make America great again!” Its carnivalesque-cum-illusionist vibe is a precise vehicle for all its mockery and intents. This is followed by another out-of-this-world, Sci-Fi-inspired, cinematic, industrial noise “Twilight Zone.” The ensuing “Victims of a Clown” is another satirical stab on you-know-who, the music of which will remind the initiated of Skinny Puppy’s seminal album Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse.
After almost a minute of shootings and firings that conjure images of school massacres, police brutality, terrorist attacks, and mental illness–related crimes – dubbed as “TV5/4Chan” – Ministry then launches into the blast-beat-charged and meat-grinding Death Metal track “We’re Tired of It,” seemingly trying to drain the brains off the head of the hostaged listener.
Certainly not for the weak and weary, AmeriKKKant’s dare continues on with “Wargasm” in the same beat and rhythm and then with the proper Thrash Metal “Antifa” (short for the political ideology ‘anti-fascism’). Nearing the end of the term, Jourgensen’s manifesto with the rest of Ministry slows down a bit with the angular and comfortingly titled “Game Over,” but whose musical backdrop is bleeding with relentless pounding, buzz-sawing, guttural growls, and throat-slashing screams. As the listener thinks that he can already breathe a sigh of relief, after assuming that the nightmare is over, Ministry then throws its final, unsettling blow – “AmeriKKKa.”
For sure, everything is just a bluff. The war is not yet over! There are still lots to fight for and to rage against in this crazy world, at least in the minds of Jourgensen and his minstrels. More from Ministry is definitely yet to come.
In its tumultuous history, Ministry has courted and escaped various issues and controversies brought about by Jourgensen’s volatile personality and polarizing charisma; but at the end of the spin, music is what really matters. For all its brave and bold political stances and proclamations – no matter which side of the American fence it sits on – whether everything is authentic or only a giant stage show of blinding lights, rhetoric, empty promises, pyrotechnics, and misleading premises, CrypticRock gives AmeriKKKant 4 out of 5 stars.