Wednesday 11 May 2016

Review: Surgical Meth Machine – 'Surgical Meth Machine'

'Surgical Meth Machine'

If you've never heard of Al Jourgensen, you're either supremely well adjusted, or have just been living under a rock since the early 1980s. The man of many bands and aliases has been the driving force behind legendary acts Ministry and Revolting Cocks (amongst others) for over thirty years and has been a big influence on a range of industrial/metal acts around the world. Uncle Al is back with a new project and album in the form of Surgical Meth Machine – a project conceived with engineer Sam D'Ambruso in tribute to the late Mike Scaccia whose distinctive shredding coloured the post 9/11 Ministry sound.

Blending industrial metal, speed metal and even psychedelic rock 'Surgical Meth Machine' is an uncompromising album that plays fast an loose with elements of Jourgensen's considerable discography while successfully crafting its own identity.

There will always be strong comparisons to Ministry as Jourgensen's vocals are distinctive and his penchant for breakneck speed, machine gun beats and bombarding the mix with samples are all present and correct. However with SMM it all sounds unburdened by the weight of expectation that came with a long-time commitment like Ministry. The end result is a clear-headed, focussed and streamlined barrage that shows off some of Jourgensen's strongest writing in years.

Songs such as 'I'm Sensitive', 'Tragic Alert', 'I Don't Wanna', 'Smash And Grab', and 'Unlistenable' give the album a fast and strong backbone of uncompromising riffs angry vocals and general Jourgensen-style craziness. Then after a nutty cover of Devo's 'Gates Of Steel' things descend sharply into psychedelic waters with 'Just Go Home' and 'Just Keep Going' providing a blend of Wax Trax! Era crazy electronics mixed with dub which leads you into the slow and unexpected come down that is the quite frankly brilliant 'I'm Invisible'.

The album is bipolar in it's construction but consistent in its execution. The rapid speed freak metal is sharp and aggressive, and the slower and more electronic orientated tracks have a laid back and casual feel to them. While being at opposite ends of the spectrum these different sides to the SMM still manage to keep some kind of unity.

'Surgical Meth Machine' is a brilliant first step in what will hopefully be an exciting new journey for Jourgensen. This album is his most diverse in his career to date and the unexpected twist at the end shows he still has a lot of tricks up his sleeve. Hopefully Surgical Meth Machine will be a going concern well into the future.  

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