Upon my first listen to Amerikkkant, I was reminded of the time when I was about 10 years old, watching MTV at my cousin’s house. On that fateful day when “Jesus Built My Hotrod” came on. Like an evangelical whirlwind, my obnoxiously clueless aunt came running through the house yelling at us to change the channel. In a panic, we turned the tv off. “Ministry is devil worshipping music! It’s blasphemy!!” she screamed as if we knew better. “I don’t want to ever hear of you ever listening to that music!” she added before going back to her room. Once she left the room, my cousin laughed and turned the tv back on. At that moment, my love affair with Ministry began.
I couldn’t understand a single word in the song but the frantic industrial noise, grinding guitars, and psychedelic imagery was the coolest thing my 10-year-old eyes had ever seen! I rushed out and bought the album the very next day. Not only was the music nothing I’d heard before, there was something extremely cool about the rebellion aspect of it all. It felt like something I shouldn’t be listening to. My parents didn’t care but I couldn’t help but laugh at the thought of my aunt hearing Ministry and coming to the conclusion they were evil.
Throughout every variation of Ministry, Al Jourgensen has always been the epitome of anti-establishment.
Despite constantly going up against the proverbial machine, Ministry has never been punk in a traditional sense. Instead of doing things to upset the establishment, Jourgensen found ways to pinpoint what’s corrupt and throw it right back at their faces. The insult-to-injury approach is what always made Ministry one of the more satisfying political bands of the last 30 years. Things were a little shaky for Ministry since the late 90s due to style changes but now Donald Drumpf is president, the time is right for Jourgensen’s triumphant return with Amerikkkant.
Of course with Jourgensen’s history of bashing Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and George W, it would be somewhat predictable for Ministry to attack the Drumpf administration. Make no mistake, Amerikkkant does, in fact, tear the commander in chief a new one but Jourgensen never really goes for the low-hanging fruit. Instead, his attacks are on society itself and the political landscape it feeds. This is what makes Amerikkkant such a celebration. Many see it as Ministry’s return to form, and rightfully so.
Politics aside, Amerikkkant also marks the return of Ministry as a legitimate industrial act.
During the late 90s up until 2016’s Surgical Meth Machine, Jourgensen leaned heavily into metal territory, particularly thrash. While rapid fire beats and break-neck guitar riffs are present on Amerikkkant (especially on “We’re Tired Of It” and “Wargasm” ) it’s no longer the focal point as with the past few Ministry releases. Most of the tracks are aggressive but groove-based much like Ministry’s acclaimed period from The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste through Psalm 69 and ending with Filth Pig.
Speaking of sound, Amerikkkant also showcases slick production and unexpected instrumentation. “Twilight Zone” has a digitally treated harmonica, giving the track an almost Eastern vibe. There’s an occasional string and brass ensemble, guest vocals by Fear Factory’s Burton C. Bell, and even N.W.A.’s Arabian Prince makes an appearance on turntable duties throughout. Jourgensen has always utilized samples and digital media in all of his projects but aesthetically speaking, Amerikkkant is one of the best sounding albums he has ever released.
As with most Ministry releases, the real star of Amerikkkant, is Jourgensen’s knack for rebellion.
Just like Ministry’s performance at 2017’s Riot Fest, Jourgensen makes his political opinions known right from the start. Certain tracks like “Victims Of A Clown” and lead single “Antifa”, leave subtly at the door, others touch upon racism, fascism, and gun-culture in more sophisticated ways. The combo of “Game Over” and the title track close the album with an overwhelming sense of dread. The gospel Jourgensen preaches says we’re all going to hell in a handbasket unless we stand up to bullies. It may not be the most cheerful note to end an album on, but he has a point at least.
Despite its over-usage of Drumpf samples and surprisingly lean runtime, Amerikkkant is the Ministry I grew up with. Just like the 10-year-old version of me not understanding or agreeing with every word, I know this album sounds cool. It makes me want to throw my fists in the air and scream at political persecutors and the establishment whether it be at Washington or at a clueless aunt. At the end of the day, isn’t that what Ministry has always been about?
Amerikkkant is available on vinyl and cassette at Nuclear Blast Records