Do you ever look at something and think, “How did you fuck that up?” Whether it’s an Ikea chair, a bowl of KD or a democratic electoral system, some things end up being ruined for the dumbest of reasons. It was this thought that filled my mind as I listened to Amerikkkant, Ministry’s new anti-Trump protest album.
Political lyrical content is nothing new to Ministry. Singer and band mastermind Al Jourgensen has been resolutely pro-anarchy ever since he first screamed out “THIEVES AND LIARS!” in 1989. Ministry’s most political release ever, 2006’s Rio Grande Blood, arrived on a wave of anti-George Bush and Iraq War activism. With everything that’s happening in America today, shouldn’t an anti-Trump Ministry album be easy?
Wrong. Amerikkkant is a slog. Uncle Al’s fury and disbelief at the crumbling of America under Donald Trump seems sincere, but his anger almost drowns out the album’s musical ideas. “I Know Words” is literally just a mashup of Trump’s most overplayed quotes, stuff that already feels crushingly dated. Had this come out in 2016, it might have had something cutting-edge to say, but two years on this just feels like repetition. Protest music is great, but it should have something more to say then just repeating the opposition’s slogans. Not good.
“Twilight Zone” keeps the theme up, an eight-minute grind of right-wing rhetoric and lethargic industrial riffs. Ministry fans have come to expect blindingly fast shredding when Uncle Al gets mad, but most of Amerikkkant remains in second gear. Tracks like “Antifa” do not induce moshing (though, judging by the 10 000 dislikes on YouTube, it did succeed in triggering Al’s chosen targets). The closest thing to a genuine Ministry banger is “We’re Tired Of It,” which features Slayer-level shredding and a killer cameo from Burton C. Bell, of Fear Factory fame. It’s just a shame that the song is undercut by the whicka-wacka noises coming from the band’s turntables. Seriously, you’re writing what’s supposed to be the anthem protest album of 2018! What’s with the Limp Bizkit sounds???
The best explanation I can think of is that Uncle Al let his hatred of Donald Trump get in the way of songwriting. The samples outweigh the actual lyrics on the album, many riffs are repeated ad naeseum and the whole thing comes off like squandered potential. If nothing else, Ministry have succeeded in igniting a vicious online discussion on whether or not the band should be considered “social justice warriors” (right-wing code for anyone who acknowledges that racism and sexism are bad, apparently). But those who already agree with Al Jourgensen’s message, including the majority of Ministry fans, will find little to chew on. Disappointing, considering the massive promotion around the album and the desperate need for real protest music. I guess we’ll have to stick with Eminem’s “Untouchable”.
To recap, you ever look at something and think, “How did you fuck that up”? That’s Amerikkkant. Sad, but true.
Written by Max Morin
*edited by Kate Erickson