Stay with me for a moment as I attempt to describe Al Jourgensen’s latest project, Surgical Meth Machine, to you: If “Warp City” had sex with the entire “TV” series and their bastard offspring had sex with Revco and THEY had a baby, Surgical Meth Machine would be the result. Make sense? No? Well, if you’re ready for it to get a lot more weird then stick around.
Firstly, Uncle Al doesn’t give a fuck what you think (Opener “I’m Sensitive” clarifies that point) and second, if you weren’t a fan of the latter half of the Ministry legacy then SMM will do nothing for you. For us Jourgensen loyalists, though, Surgical Meth Machine is a marvelous dichotomy of the inner workings of Alien Jourgensen’s brain: Part mechanized metal fury, part Pop throwback, all Alien.
While “Tragic Alert” is a great tone setter for the first half of SMM, it’s “I Want More” that really drives home the ferocity and hearkens back to The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste and Psalm 69 even. Beginning with an ominous guitar and bass drone and a non-scream line from Al, “I Want More” soon devolves into one of the most intense, abrasive, and in-your-face Jourgensen jams ever showcasing that Al’s sardonic wit and songwriting prowess is still firmly intact with a chorus as brazen as “Hashtag/A red flag/You’re a douchebag/You’re done”.
After continually bashing listeners over the head with an electro attack like “Smash and Grab” or the Jello Biafra-led “I Don’t Wanna”, “Unlistenable” pokes its ugly head in at almost the halfway mark like “TV5” on, ahem, meth. Then it gets weirder. Like bipolar weirder.
If the first half of SMM’s debut was the most aggressive Jourgensen shenanigans yet then “part two” will be some of the poppiest stuff this side of With Sympathy. Starting with a hyper-realized and spot on cover of Devo’s “Gates Of Steel” which flows seamlessly out of “Unlistenable”, SMM‘s second half is a different beast altogether. “Spudnik” bounces off from “Gates…” filled with samples and hope while “Just Go Home” and “Just Keep Going” are like flip sides of the same computerized coin. Then the creepy lounge feel of “I’m Invisible” subtly closes the album and you’re left with the best Al Jourgensen mixtape you never knew you needed.