Ministry - Amerikkkant (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Amerikkkant (2018)

Nuclear Blast

I’ve been a Ministry fan for a very long time. Almost 30 years. For me, it all started with their amazing The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste (1989) album. I saw them live on that same tour. It scared the hell out of me and I was hooked. From there I dug into their back catalog, and came to enjoy almost all of it. (I still can’t get into the synth pop of 1983’s With Sympathy.) I was there when they hit their commercial peak with Psalm 69 (1992), and I hung in there through the late 90’s when it looked like their career was going down the drain. I stayed when key member Paul Barker left and Ministry adopted a more thrash oriented approach. For that I was rewarded with three excellent George W Bush era records. The last couple of albums have seen the band backtracking a bit and finding a nice balance between their metal and industrial influences.

Through the many stylistic changes, I have stuck with Ministry. After all the breakups, threats of breakups, threats of retirement and supposed retirement from touring, I’m still here. It’s been a wild ride. The band had originally turned to crowdfunding and had planned to release the new LP in 2017. Those plans changed when Ministry was picked up by metal heavyweights Nuclear Blast Records. It seems like this is the first album in years that mastermind Al Jourgensen isn’t claiming will be the band’s last. That it itself is a small victory. With a president he hates back in office, I figured Jourgensen would be on fire. Amerikkkant was definitely one of my most eagerly anticipated albums of 2018. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite live up to my lofty expectations.

Opener “I Know Words” never really picks up much steam. All of its words are samples, lifted from speeches by the president himself. Sometimes they are slowed down to make him appear dumber than he already does naturally. “Twilight Zone” is the first of the record’s three eight minute songs, and it picks up right where “Words” left off. It’s not terrible, but its length makes it tedious. The next song is “Victims of a Clown”, and it once again crosses the eight minute mark and suffers from the same problem. It also has a groove that’s so close to White Zombie’s “More Human Than Human” that it’s distracting. A good portion of both of these songs probably should have ended up on the cutting room floor. (So to speak.)

There really aren’t enough lyrics and singing to justify the extreme song lengths. It’s as if Jourgensen is at a loss for words, which I didn’t think was possible. In recent interviews he’s been as pissed off and animated as ever. Maybe he should sample excerpts from his own interviews to inject some fire in these lumbering tracks. “Clown’ actually kicks into high gear for its last 30 seconds. It’s the first time that Amerikkkant really shows any sign of life and it’s 19 minutes in! “TV 5/4 Chan” is a short little ditty that mostly serves as an intro for the next track. It certainly doesn’t live up to the “TV Song” legacy. (“TV 2” is my personal favorite.)

The next three songs go a long way toward redeeming Amerikkkant. The too short “We’re Tired of It” is the most aggressive song on the record, and probably the best. “Wargasm” is really solid and even has a pretty memorable melody in the chorus. “Antifa” is probably the second best song on the record. It shows how much difference good editing can make. The last two tracks are again unexceptional. “Game Over” brings back the awesome power drill sound from “Thieves”, but it’s not enough to save it. Likewise, the horns can’t rescue the extremely bloated eight and a half minute closer “Amerikkka”.

The track listing on the back of the record organizes the song titles like they’re telling a story. I think a lot of the problems with Amerikkkant could have been lessened with better sequencing. (And having a few more kick-ass songs.) If “We’re Tired of It” had been the lead track, it would have set an entirely different tone. If the best songs were more spread out, it might hold our attention better. As it is, this gives us too many long, dull spots across the nine tracks and 48 minute run time. To be fair, there is some really good stuff here. There’s at least enough that hardcore Ministry fans are going to want to buy Amerikkkant. You just have to wade through a fair amount of filler to find it. I still love you Uncle Al, but this isn’t you best effort.