This is one of those after the fact records that stuck with me enough to have thoughts. Especially because I feel the need to defend it against haters. First off, this isn’t Uncle Al raging against the Bush’s. Nothing will ever capture that vitriol so perfectly than the albums that were released around those two eras. Secondly, Ministry in 2018 is a polarizing entity. You either eat up everything Uncle Al serves up as gospel or still resent the fact that he followed up Psalm 69 with Filth Pig and didn’t hang it up after one of the two “retirement” tours in 2008 and 2012. Either way, Uncle Al doesn’t care what you think. And that just makes things more interesting.
With that said, AmeriKKant really is a breath of fresh air after the requiem for fallen guitarist Mike Scaccia that 2013’s From Beer to Eternity ended up being. Refreshed, reinvigorated, and inspired, AmeriKKKant sees Al Jourgensen back in his comfort zone in a country divided. “I Know Words” mirrors that divide perfectly with an instrumental that’s trippy and mystical but riddled with distorted samples of 45 (I refuse to type/say his name) spewing forth rhetoric like “We will make America great again” before flowing into the eight minute dirge of “Twilight Zone” adding Uncle Al’s uncanny bark and these almost Filth Pig-style harmonica lines throughout.
ANOTHER eight minute monster drops next but unlike “Twilight Zone”, “Victims Of A Clown” comes at listeners like the most glorious of all throwbacks to the Ministry catalog. Structured like “So What” or “Breathe” and built around this hypnotic Tony Campos bass line, the track is anxiety-inducing as it escalates and eventually culminates with Jourgensen yelling out your post-election mantra: “Wake up/Take it in/Exhale/Repeat/Fire up/Freak out/Let it go!” Then guest Burton Bell enters at the last second for a thrashy conclusion before the next chapter of the “TV” series comes in.
Speaking of the Fear Factory/Ascension of the Watchers vocalist: Did you see him on the 2008 “C U La Tour” when he came out for the encore and sang the classics as Jourgensen, quite comfortably, settled into the background and shredded away? My point is, the guy is seemingly being groomed as the next Ministry front person should Al ever really retire and on AmeriKKant, Bell really steps into his own within the Ministry world. Take the shreddy speed metal of “We’re Tired Of It” as his official audition on a track that combines the heaviness of the best opening numbers from The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste (“Thieves” and “Burning Inside” in particular) with the intensity the singer displayed on tracks like “Pisschrist” and “Self Bias Resistor” when he barks “He Lies” repeatedly. Then “Wargasm” pops up and Bell goes spoken-word and, dare I say, sexy as he spouts off some especially filthy lines before Jourgensen chimes in with his bits building into this almost New Wave chorus (This track kills live especially!)
“Game Over” is like a mix of “Filth Pig” and “Khyber Pass” with those samples of 45 back in play much like the George Sr (Remember when the Bush’s were the worst thing ever? Better times, I know…) parts throughout Psalm 69 as Jourgensen rages “I’m On A Mission! To Make Things Right!” and then “Amerikka” saunters in with eight and a half minutes of epic awesome, seeped in ’80’s goth (Brad Fiedel’s Fright Night guitar wails really come to mind on this one) before concluding Ministry’s fourteenth (!) magnum opus.
AmeriKKKant is out now and can be purchased in a variety of formats by clicking here. Ministry is also currently on the road with Chelsea Wolfe opening, with a stop at Boston’s Royale scheduled for April 17th. For dates and more, head here.