Album Review Surgical Meth Machine

Surgical Meth Machine is the latest project of Ministry-legend Al Jourgensen. It certainly is right to call Surgical Meth Machine a project rather than a band as the album was written and recorded by Al himself, his long-term engineer and companion Sam D’Ambruoso and the help of a drum machine. Al had already proclaimed that he wanted to write and record the fastest album ever. For most of the album he followed through on that promise.

‘Surgical Meth Machine’ is basically divided into two halves. The first half is a collection of ultra-fast tracks. In general, all these tracks are based on a version of speed metal but also come with their own variations and influences. For example, there are strong electronic elements in tracks like ‘Smash And Grab’, ‘I’m Sensitive’ and ‘Tragic Alert’. Some passages even remind me of the hardcore techno subgenre Gabber. This certainly makes for an interesting listening experience in itself. The creative mind of Al Jourgensen doesn’t stop there of course. The other tracks on the first half of the album are closer to hardcore punk with the odd little, galloping thrash riff like ‘Rich People Problems’.

‘Unlistenable’, the half way mark of the record, is then a turning point on the album. ‘Unlistenable’ is another ultra-fast track in line with the first six songs. However, traditional song structures are completely dissolved as the track progresses. The last couple of minutes of ‘Unlistenable’ are completely free of typical musical convention. Therefore, the song becomes a statement of deconstructivism in its truest sense of encouraging radical freedom of form.

Al Jourgensen Interview

After the listener made it through the cleansing, aural experience of ‘Unlistenable’ ‘Surgical Meth Machine’ turns back towards song structures listeners are more accustomed to. The two classic punk tracks ‘Gates Of Steel’ and ‘Spudnik’ still have some faster elements but are nowhere near the speed from the beginning of the album. To finish the album there is another radical turn towards electro pop tracks. The edgy, electronic and almost catchy ‘I’m Invisible’ makes the turnaround complete.

‘Surgical Meth Machine’ is quite a wild ride. Only few musicians can cram so many different styles, elements and subgenres on one album. Some of the tracks are quite demanding and are outside of traditional musical customs even for extreme metal. I am still not quite sure what this album actually is but I know that is interesting and exciting.

8 of 10