I think it’s best to ignore all the “never playing”, “making an album” again under the Ministry banner we have heard from Uncle Al. Things are said in the heat of the moment and following the sudden death of Mike Scaccia, this decision came from the heart. Besides since last album ‘From Beer To Eternity’ in 2013 anyone would think the American public had got stupidly drunk and inaugurated the most unexpected and idiotic president they have ever had and that really is saying something. It had to get old Buck Satan riled up and ready to rage against the machine like he has done in the past with that other numpty Bush. We waited eagerly as the publicity machine went into overdrive, news releases about this album have been coming in as thick and fast as an election campaign and it’s been difficult ignoring them and wanting to hear the music first without being blindsided by rhetoric. Luckily I have been able to do that and once I have written thoughts down I have plenty of reading to do. So let’s get down to things in as unbiased a fashion as a life-long Ministry fan is able to shall we?
Back with Jorgensen are Sin Quirin, Tony Campos and John Bechdel all of whom have been around in the band for a while. Joining them are more recent guitarist Cesar Soto, drummer Derek Abrams and DJ Swamp on turntables, the latter inclusion kind of sets alarm bells ringing a bit. Slowed down and telling anyone stupid enough to listen that America will be great again it’s the Trumpty Dumpty that gets the first words in on ‘I Know Words’ (yep images of Ralph in the Simpsons springs to mind). Electric violin eases our way in on this intro piece and any fan of New Model Army, of whom the band probably share many, will no doubt be thinking of them and Ed Alleyne Johnson here. This opens up into ‘Twilight Zone’ one of those slower chilling tracks that Ministry are so good at. The spine shivering ‘Scarecrow’ remains a favourite to this day and this trip to another dimension is a similar ponderous stalker with the violin and bluesy harmonica melody flowing through it. The samples are already on overdrive as is the scratching from the DJ. You could say during the course of the album this side of things gets almost too much and the riffs take second place at times. That unmistakable voice and melody makes it bearable at the moment and this quickly became a favourite track on the album. I suspect the Twilight Zone itself is the day after election when the US and rest of world woke up to the sobering and shocking news of the new president elect. ‘Victims Of A Clown’ another title that speaks for itself in a world where all is certainly not fun(fair) has a b-movie sample vibe about it before limbering up into one of Ministry’s vocal stadium rousing sort of numbers. Vocally it heads right back to the past and some of the sound effects are left over from the golden period too before it gets hooks in with an overabundance of samples and a bit of an over commercial hooky chorus. I certainly find myself sitting in two camps on this and by now DJ Swamp’s scratchy contributions are getting on my tits.
At 49 seconds TV5/4Chan is a flood of effects and samples leading into a short sharp romper stomper ‘We’re Tired Of It.’ Too many bells and whistles on this one yet again and all these ADHD parts means that like the lyrics attest “all is lost” in this miasma. ‘Wargasm’ is the biggest shock of the album and you can see the video below which sees Al sporting make up that looks a little familiar. Is he a jester, a clown a juggalo? Well once the main hook of this slow pounder hits you between the eyes it’s going to be all the more clear as it is so similar to Killing Joke classic ‘The Wait.’ I simply don’t know whether it’s a serious homage or if Ministry are just taking the piss and hoped nobody would notice? Well I did and surely won’t be alone. It’s not a bad song by any means but it’s not really one that entirely belongs to Ministry, a group that I have always considered innovators not followers. Sticking with the music and keeping personal opinions out the politics 1st single Antifa bounces in and the only band Ministry are ripping off here are themselves. It tries to be Just One Fix a little too much for comfort and is a pastiche of former glories, relying on samples again, making me want to stomp my boot down on it, just like the subject matter. ‘Game Over’ has some good hollered vocals and a sinister melody about it, this is reminiscent a little of when Ministry previously carried on up the Khyber during their Bush era. A video game sprong makes me laugh before we get to the finale and title track ‘AmeriKKKa.’ Another fairly lengthy slow burner this but one that does essentially work and get under the skin with some impetuous guitar motifs and maudlin nihilistic melody at its heart.
So having listened to this a good ten times before gathering thoughts, I found the album has gone and annoyed me a fair bit. ‘The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste’ is a benchmark album and as close to a top score as I would ever give. This feels more a case of Ministry running out of steam and going through the motions, trying to distract the listener with an effects laden canvas like a Hollywood blockbuster and one forgetting about bothering with a proper story. That’s the annoying thing because there is a story here and Ministry should be better at telling it. Despite the closing sample they just don’t seem to be “mad as hell” anymore and even though I am bound to purchase the album and possibly buy into it a little more on further listens, ‘AmeriKKKa’ has given me a bit of a headache.
(7/10 Pete Woods)