Surgical Meth Machine – Surgical Meth Machine (Album Review)

Surgical Meth Machine – Surgical Meth Machine 

OUT: April 15th, 2016


Al Jourgensen


Surgical Meth Machine is the name of Al Jourgensen’s (Uncle Al) latest venture having notably called a day with his main band Ministry, stating Ministry would never record another record following the death of long-time friend and collaborator, Mike Scaccia. He wanted to make something fast, something he described as “…a speed metal listener’s wet dream”. In part, he is successful.

Having battled drug issues throughout his life, settling on the name of the band is a little worrying to an outsider. We all know Uncle Al has had a problem with narcotics for a long time and clearly he revels in replaying those moments across this record. When the faster songs appear they are frenetic, and I mean heart beat racing 10 cans of Red Bulls frenetic. However in the latter half of the album, SMM trip out, and revert to some pop synthesisers before petering out with a whimper. It’s bizarre. Was it made that way purposefully? Only Uncle Al could tell you.

The album kicks off with ‘I’m Sensitive’, and I can’t help but think it is very similar to ‘Ghouldiggers’ from Ministry’s album, Relapse, from 2012 – just a whole lot faster once the intro speech stops. Jourgensen talking, Jourgensen complaining, Jourgensen bitching then a whole lot of computerised backing and tracking and Uncle Al yelling, “Keep talking shit’ throughout, referring to the pasting he cops sometimes on social media.

From there SMM rally. ‘Tragic ALert’ with its gang vocal of ‘Execution!’ repetitively yelled amongst industrial noise and speed guitar has that Ministry ‘Thieves’ vibe, and whilst nowhere near as good, it gets the adrenalin racing. ‘I Want More’, provides just that, more pace, more energy and this track would not have looked out of place on the Psalm 69 album from the early ‘90s. Jello Biafra appears on ‘I Don’t Wanna’, reconnecting the Jourgensen partnership for the first time since Lard and just like the old Lard albums, they combine beautifully with Jello’s twisted vocal range blazing across more fast riffs and manic computer engineered drumming.

Things go downhill from that point however. ‘Smash and Grab’ is a just an overly repetitive track, both vocally and sounds. ‘Unlistenable’ is exactly that, a mish mash of industrial speed noise, Jourgensen yelling things back and forth coupled with interjected sounds. Pass.

‘Gates of Steel’ attempts a synthesised pop sound intertwined with more engineered industrial madness. It’s like Depeche Mode meets Al Jourgensen in a dark alley. Again…. pass. The following track, bizarrely continues in a similar vein (pardon the pun), the beat almost the same however odd news voices appear here and there amongst it all. This the first of a handful of industrial pop non vocal tracks. It’s here I start yelling at indiscriminate things around me and swear numerous times at Uncle Al. What the fuck was he thinking?

Surgical Meth Machine - Surgical Meth Machine - ArtworkBut wait, there’s more. ‘Just Go Home’ is another non-vocal industrial splurge. It feels like a whole new record or band. ‘Just Keep Going’ continues the computer generated tracking, the title almost taking the piss out of the listener at this point. Finally, it ends with ‘I’m Invisible’, a slower beat consumes the tracking and some non-recognisable clean vocal enters the fray now and again.

WTF have I just listened too? If Al Jourgensen wanted to complete a record that had the full range of emotions of drug taking (from what I’ve read) in one foul swoop, then mission accomplished. Surgical Meth Machine is utterly fun madness almost euphoric, then declines swiftly into full on depression (for the listener). Take the first half as some of the best Jourgensen work since the early ‘90s in terms of tracks similar to ‘Jesus Built My Hotrod’ and ‘Thieves’, then pretend you’re listening to someone else come the second half of this album.

Disjointed, bizarre, insane.

Rating 5 dirty needles out of 10

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About Plugga73 (370 Articles)
Writing, reviewing, interviewing, exploring new and old heavy music. From punk to grunge to hardcore to death metal to thrash and everything in between. I've been writing in the music industry now for several years including the websites LOUD, SF Media, Tone Deaf, The Metal Review and AMNplify. I'll be the one talking about bands from the 90s all the time..... Hit me up on twitter @Plugga73

3 Comments on Surgical Meth Machine – Surgical Meth Machine (Album Review)

  1. Yeah the reviewsr has no clue. This is the most fun album ive heard in a long time. Maybe try not take it too seriously next listen. I just listened 3 times through on way to airport this morning.
    10 dirty needles for mine

  2. I’m loving this album. The second half is a nice change of pace from the blistering first half.

  3. tldnr; new “album” sucks airy balls

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