• Surgical Meth Machine

    Surgical Meth Machine
    Released by: Nuclear Blast
    Releasing on: April 15th, 2016.
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    Produced in Al Jourgensen’s studio with engineer Sam D’Ambruoso and inspired by the passing of the late Mike Scaccia, Surgical Meth Machine is not a Ministry record, even if it definitely is a Ministry record in that in its own way it encompasses all of the sounds that Jourgensen’s most famous project worked into their discography over the years.

    Jourgensen himself describes the album in the press materials that came with the review files as ‘bi-polar’ and that’s pretty accurate. The album is angry, then calm, then clearly upset, and then not so upset at all. It’s all over the place, running the gauntlet from blisteringly fast speed metal to moments that border on what you could say is Al’s version of lounge music (check out the video for I’m Invisible at the bottom of this page).

    I’m Sensitive starts us off with four minutes plus of weird sampling, Al talking over top of some pulsing keyboards and computerized backing about the effects of social media on his fragile psyche. How seriously should we take it? Good question, but it’s a trippy way to open the new album. Once he screams out ‘I DON’T FUCKING CARE’ and the binding comes off this one explodes into a track both ferocious and furious in its intensity.

    Tragic Alert sounds like Ministry at their most aggressive – poignant samples, repetitive and piercing air raid sirens, pissed off vocals and a backbeat that doesn’t know how to slowdown. The vocals are all over the place while the instrumentation is in full on blast mode from start to finish. This track is exhausting. I Want More gives you just that – more hyper fast industrial style speedcore that is in the same vein as Psalm 69 era Ministry – fast, clinical in its precision, very digital and just flat out pissed off at anything and everything around it. Rich People Problems slows things down but just barely, this is still heavy, messy and very rhythmic as Al bellows out lyrics about how he wants rich people problems, how he’s in it for the money. There’s definitely a sense of humor behind a lot of the material on this record.

    Why is Al standing in a lake with a partially submerged dirt track race car? I dunno, but the image was included with the review materials, so we’ll use it here. But watch out Al - there's some shit on fire behind you! Maybe that's why he's in the lake... so he doesn't catch on fire.

    Getting back to the record, I Don’t Wanna features a collaboration between Jourgensen and Jello Biafra. It’s a throwback to their work together as Lard and it would have fit right in on any of those records, especially when Biafra starts wailing about how he wants to be a beer ad! There’s a lot of social commentary throughout this entire album, not just this track, with well aimed barbs made at both the music industry and the political landscape of current day America. This continues in Smash And Grab, a blast-beat track that gets insanely repetitive - ‘don’t listen to this, it’s nothing at all, it don’t mean a thing, blah blah blah blah blah. Just get it over with, over with now!’ A rant against the vapidity of society? As the track continues to bulldoze the listener with repetition, you can’t help but be hit front and center with it. Subtlety is not always one of Jourgensen’s strong points.

    Unlistenable shifts the tone set down by the first half of the record and steers it in a strange direction – again, it’s blasting industrial speedcore but over top of it Jourgensen asks over and over again if this is a joke or not. The word ‘unlistenable’ is repeated ad nausea and as the track nears its end Al offers up his thoughts on bands like Nickleback (‘I wouldn’t give you a penny back!’), Ministry (‘Good fucking riddance!’), The Cure, Morrissey and Devo!

    Gates Of Steel starts off with an upbeat pseudo-industrial guitar riff with some backing from the rhythm section that is almost… danceable. The anger of the first half leads into something that wouldn’t sound out of place on an Andrew W.K. record. There are even some harmonies here. Spudnik continues where Gates Of Steel left off, the earlier track segueing into this one pretty much seamlessly. The upbeat instrumentation continues while the vocals are replaced with a collage of samples and the repetition of the words ‘surgical meth machine’ over and over again.

    Just Go Home is mostly instrumental and samples swirling about in strange ways, the music that emerges from behind that is heavy on synths and computerized quirks and drum beats. Just Keep Going follows suit not just in the title but in the execution of a similar musical style. We’ve wandered pretty far from the sound established on the first part of the record by this point, and it’s hear that you realize Jourgensen really is mixing up elements from his entire career, not just recycling Minstry’s greatest industrial hits. This angle of the record and the sequencing on the tracks on the record sort of sneaks up on you that way.

    And it all ends with the aforementioned I’m Invisible, a five minute lounge track that sees Jourgensen stepping out of what most would assume to be his hyper-aggressive comfort zone and crooning his way through a pop-styled lounge music track that somehow finishes off the album in the most fitting way possible. In a way it harkens back to Ministry’s early days, when they were an electro-pop band more than a heavy industrial outfit, but it works. And if Jourgensen can keep putting out music as eclectic and addictively weird as he has with this record, so much the better.