Tuesday 5 April 2016

Surgical Meth Machine - "Surgical Meth Machine" (Album Review)

By: Mike Wilcox

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 15/04/2016
Label: Nuclear Blast

“Surgical Meth Machine” CD//DD//LP track listing:
1. I'm Sensitive (4:10)
2. Tragic ALert (3:36)
3. I Want More (3:51)
4. Rich People Problems (3:06)
5. I Don't Wanna (3:19)
6. Smash and Grab (2:49)
7. Unlistenable (4:54)
8. Gates of Steel (2:46)
9. Spudnik (2:33)
10. Just Go Home (2:51)
11. Just Keep Going (1:03)
12. I'm Invisible (5:01)

The Review:
Having the opportunity to get my hands on Al Jourgensen’s new project, Surgical Meth Machine and review it presented an interesting quandary for me: Do I review it and focus on the good aspects? The ripping speed, the furiously fast pace, the undeniable industrial roots, indeed Al had said in a Blabbermouth interview earlier this year,  “…it’s like I literally just put my foot on the gas pedal for this record.” I really didn’t know what to expect.  Ministry, Al’s former glory, is an interesting beast in and of itself, spanning decades, many albums, a massive fan base, and just as much polarity towards the band as one would expect.  With the death of guitarist Mike Scaccia during the wrap up of Ministry’s 2013 album, “From Beer to Eternity”, nobody, perhaps including Al himself, knew if the projects would go on, but Al took to the helm to present something different, a new project.  From these efforts we get Surgical Meth Machine, an album that is just as confusing as it is break neck.
Starting the album off, “I’m Sensitive” introduces the listener to the very familiar drone note on top of a quick paced unchanging industrial sounding rhythm.  It goes on to deliver the full force of older Ministry as Al goes off on a diatribe of how he simply does not care about your feedback, your criticisms, your reception….he doesn’t care.  Listening to this it’s hard not to develop the opinion that this is simply the steam of an artist who has made enough acclaim to be able to release whatever they want simply because.  I would like to emphasize, however, that it is the lyrical content and themes that allow that feeling.  The music is completely solid.  As the album continues and you are bombarded with “TRAGIC ALERT…TRAGIC ALERT…”, and the next track breaks away and is carried with that token fast paced drum programming that we know and love Al for.  The word “EXECUTION” is shouted constantly and I’m reminded heavily of the Suicidal tendencies.  Frankly I could see Al donning a bandana for the song….ok maybe not, but the ST vibe is almost undeniable.  About two minutes into “Tragic Alert” the beat slows into a small break down of sorts, but quickly revamps with the anger and ferocity of industrial metal.
“I Want More” brings back the vocal filters that you might have heard Al use for albums like Ministry’sPsalm 69”.  In fact, I could see this track following “Just One Fix”; however a guitar solo a little ways in reminds us that this is Surgical Meth Machine and not Ministry, but It kills just the same.  No breaks, no stops, no mercy.  “Rich People Problems” seems to be a hot air track; it’s amusing, but nothing more.  “I Don’t Wanna” gives us nostalgia for Lard as it features guest vocalist and former collaborator Jello Biafra.  It also ties in strangely to the former track, “Rich People Problems”, in that it seems to exemplify issues that well to do people might have.  “I don’t wanna go to your funeral, I just wanna cash my check…”  Life can be really hard sometimes I guess…
Marking the halfway point of the album, “Smash and Grab” actually reminds me a reasonable amount of Static X, though it seems to be more of a fill junk track than anything else.  The lyrics literally tell you, “Don’t listen to this, it’s nothing at all, it don’t mean a thing, blah blah blah blah blah…”  It’s a jamming’ track, but I just wonder what the point of it actually was.  Track seven, “Unlistenable”, I read elsewhere, is just that.  That wasn’t quite my take on it but I will stand behind the notion that it’s a more experimental track.  Those are my nice words, but, as we learned with the first track, Al does not care anymore. 
I have highlighted some of my favourite tracks here, rather than an exhaustive track by track review but after all is said and done, what the hell am I supposed to make of Surgical Meth Machine??  I enjoyed it more than not, and it’s not my intention to be critical, but I sincerely think that this album was an enjoyable personal effort from an artist that is clearly telling people that there are much better things to worry about than the tract of a given musician.  The lyrical content belittles society and exemplifies the little hills that we create mountains out of.  If you are expecting a return to the glory days of Ministry you will be let down.  If you buy the album because it says featuring Jello Biafra then you are a sap and will be let down.  If you buy this album because you simply wanted to hear it, to hear what Uncle Al is doing with his time these days then you might be let down, but I really do think that for the solid fans of Al’s former work across the board, there are many redeemable qualities to be had.  I’d give it a firm 7 out of 10.  But what do I know?  People don’t pay me for my opinions.  I just review albums and shit.  FFO Ministry, Al Jourgensen, Lard, Dead Kennedys, Suicidal Tendencies, thrash metal.

“Surgical Meth Machine” is available here

Band info: official || facebook