AmeriKKKant North American Tour
The God Bombs
April 5th, 2018
Here’s a funny story before I break into the show review. While we were standing in line, several of us noticed Burton C. Ward, Fear Factory founder and current auxiliary member of Ministry, and a young girl asked if Ward would “take my picture”. Ward then took her phone, posed the girl, confused, under the marquee and snapped a few shots. Chuckling the entire time, Ward then took a picture with the young fan. Shortly after, doors opened and we began to file in.
Even though I’ve never seen any of the bands on tonight’s bill, I knew it was going to be a loud concert.
The God Bombs opened tonight’s show with their unique high energy set. For those of you who’ve never heard of the band, picture a cross between Tim Skold, Marilyn Manson, and Combichrist. I imagine their high energy set would be even more bombastic during a headlining gig.
Their set focused on the band’s new material and mixed in a few tracks from founder and vocalist Justin Symbol’s solo work. Overall, The God Bombs did a fantastic job setting the bar for what we could expect from tonight’s show.
After a quick break, the house lights dimmed and Chelsea Wolfe’s band took the stage. Opening her time on the stage with Carrion Flowers, a track used during the initial promotion of AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead, Wolfe’s unique brand of gothic rock may not have been as aurally aggressive as The God Bombs’ set but the visceral bellicosity of her music perfectly suited the theme of tonight’s show. While many wondered how well Wolfe’s set would fit in with a tour headlined by Ministry, I think she was the perfect choice to join the line-up. Wolfe’s music is heavy and dark, focusing on the issues and themes that society often doesn’t want to talk about or even admit too; depression, loss, suicide.
Wolfe’s vocals were flawless. There’s a reason she’s been branded as such a quintessential artist. Her nine song set focused on her 2017 release, Hiss Spun, and mixed perfectly with tracks from her previous releases. Wolfe’s stage presence was captivating. Guitars churned and crashed into the crowd like waves breaking on the shore during a hurricane. Her siren song enticed the crowd to join her in the darkness and was captivating enough to keep the fan’s attention during her time on the stage.
While tonight’s concert was without a doubt a heavy metal and rock performance, it also felt like a welcoming family reunion of sorts. With founder Al Jourgensen being Ministry’s sole consistent member, he enlists some of the most talented musicians to round out the band’s live line-up. For this tour, Jourgensen would be sharing the stage with keyboardist John Bechdel (Fear Factory, Prong), guitarist Sin Quirin, who’s toured with Ministry since 2007, guitarist Cesar Soto, DJ Swamp, and drummer Derek Abrams.
Tony Campos, who’s toured and recorded off-and-on with Ministry since 2008, would once again be taking the bass duties. Campos has a lengthy catalogue having previously worked with Fear Factory, Static-X, Prong, and Soulfly.
Rounding out the band’s line-up was auxiliary member Burton C. Bell. Burton is best known as being co-founder and vocalist for Fear Factory. For those of you keeping track, that’s 3 former or current members of Fear Factory touring with Ministry.
With the band’s focus being on their most recent release, AMERIKKKANT, tracks selected from their previous release were amongst the heaviest recorded songs. Burton took on vocal duties for Victims of a Clown, Wargasm, and We’re Tired of It.
For almost an hour and a half, Ministry thrashed a nearly sold-out crowd. Jourgensen picked some of the band’s most politically charged tracks for this tour’s setlist. It’s no secret that the 59 year old Cuban immigrant is no fan of Donald Trump or the current administration, yet older tracks that previously focused on his distaste for George W. Bush transferred perfectly for a loathing of our current president, and it was brilliant to experience.
What was truly remarkable about Ministry’s set though was the unapologetic power and strength behind it. Jourgensen has been touring for nearly 40 years but his energy was on par with musicians half his age. Jourgensen is an icon, and his immense stage presence during tonight’s show proved that.
Though I wasn’t familiar with every song the band played, I hope that I’ll get the chance to see their incredibly powerful live performance again.
I Know Words
Victims of a Clown (with Burton C. Bell)
Punch in the Face
Rio Grande Blood
We’re Tired of It (with Burton C. Bell)
Wargasm (with Burton C. Bell)
Just One Fix