“Surgical Meth Machine”

By Dr. Abner Mality

Having drained every drop of embalming fluid out of the dead corpse of Ministry, Al Jourgenson now turns his attention to a new project. And wow, what an overwhelming tidal wave of an industrial/metal mindfuck we have with Surgical Meth Machine. The basic framework will be familiar to any fan of latter day Ministry, but Al has dialed up everything to such an insane level with SMM that this new machine makes Ministry sound laidback in comparison.

For the first 7 tracks, this is an ungodly assault of overblown machine gun attack digital drumming, layers of absolutely brutal electronic and guitar-oriented noise, a pace more frenetic than a cheetah with its head in a bag of cocaine and sampled dialogue, squeals, skronks and blips coming at you like shrapnel from an IED explosion. It is almost more than you can process. But the Jourgenson touch is still there, especially when it comes to foul-mouthed sarcasm and self-deprecating lyrics. “I’m Sensitive” is the kickoff to the Surgical Meth Machine cataclysm and will about blow your head off. The digital drums are deliberately inhuman sounding and whip any deathcore band to a pulp. “Tragic Alert” up the ante and the next few songs are Ministry on steroids. “I Don’t Wanna” has a weird, almost rockabilly feel underneath the cacophony but it still pounds. The brutality of the early part of the album reaches almost unbearable lengths with “Unlistenable”, which mocks itself and a lot of revered metal/goth bands in the process. Those with no sense of irony will be grossly offended by this tune…as intended. It is possibly the last word in industrial/metal overkill.

Then things start to get weird and Surgical Meth Machine changes things up. “Gates of Steel” is a deliriously cheerful and warped Devo cover, while “Spudnik” is acid-drenched guitar soloing linked to a drill lathe beat. “Just Go Home” and “Just Keep Going” are two brief industrial noisescapes fashioned out of squalling electronics and samples. And to cap this lunatic album off we have “I’m Invisible”…a dreamy, laidback tune that features Jourgenson’s poppiest and most mellow vocals since the very first Ministry album eons ago. And yet beneath the twangy guitar there is still an uneasy undercurrent.

This album is crazy, it’s almost too much to process. But it’s so over the top and unexpected in spots that Surgical Meth Machine really does emerge as its own band that takes things to a level Ministry never got to.