Al Jourgensen, the driving force behind Ministry, has long been heralded as the godfather of Industrial Metal. For over 30 years now he has created a legacy that few can match. Instrumental in the evolution of a genre, influencing generations of musicians and consistently providing excellent music that rarely strays from the blueprint he laid down decades ago. Combined with the years of prodigious drug use matched only by an incredible knack for survival and you could argue that Jourgensen’s title should in fact be upgraded to the ‘Lemmy’ of industrial metal.
Like Motörhead towards the end of their career there is an acknowledgment by fans that the days of truly classic albums are past them, for Bomber, Overkill and Ace of Spades read Land of Rape and Honey, The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste and Psalm 69. Only an incurable optimist would expect a new Ministry release to match those peaks but, again like Motörhead, there is still much to enjoy from Ministry’s less exalted work and any new album is always going to be at the very least interesting and at its best exhilarating. AmeriKKKant manages to be both. After the warped orchestration of album opener ‘I Know Words’ subsides the familiar thunderous drums and buzzsaw guitars kick in on ‘Twilight Zone’ and the album barely pauses for breath from there on.
Unlike their fellow Industrial pioneers Nine Inch Nails, Ministry have never really written songs in the conventional sense, instead building dense layers of noise cut through with samples, scratches and growled vocals, largely supplied on this album by Burton C Bell. That is not to say the songs lack hooks, ‘Wargasm’ for example has an actual big, fat, no foolin’ chorus, but the trademark device that Ministry use to draw you in is repetition.
Soundbites grabbed from politicians, news broadcasts and old b-movies are scattered throughout the albums, looped and intertwined with the brutal music to create a bewildering, nightmarish soundscape that creates an almost documentary effect. In fact the entire album could be used by subsequent generations as a depiction of America’s political and social unravelling. The album leaves you in no doubt who the villain of the piece is, Donald Trump’s own words punctuate almost all of the songs, he is a soundbite president and Ministry furiously throw his outlandish declarations back into his face. And yet through it all - and in spite of their long years of service to music - Ministry still manage to sound like the soundtrack to the future. And a dark, dystopian future at that. Although the truly frightening aspect of this album is that the future appears to be happening right now.
The surprise factor of Ministry’s blend of crushing heaviness and electronica has long since passed, and that’s probably what means this album will fall short of being a classic but the power of the music and the message remains. AmeriKKKant is a complex symphony of beats, samples and guitars that needs to be listened to as a whole rather than regarded as individual songs. It challenges the listener and requires time and multiple listens to reveal everything it has to offer but it rewards those who are willing to delve deep into its dark heart. It is, in short, Ministry doing what Ministry do. And they still do it better than anyone else.
AmeriKKKant is released on the 9th March, go order the album here: http://www.nuclearblast.de/en/products/tontraeger/cd/cd/ministry-amerikkkant.html