Surgical Meth Machine – Surgical Meth Machine (Nuclear Blast)Monday, 18th April 2016
Al Jourgensen has retired and unretired, and deactivated and reactivated Ministry so many times that it’s hard to take the man seriously. Roughly a decade ago, Ministry still bore some relevance, especially with Rio Grande Blood, which hammered George W. Bush like nobody’s business. It was probably then when Al should have folded Ministry and left a somewhat good-looking corpse behind. Obviously, that didn’t happen, with 2013’s Relapse sounding wholly uninspired. Therefore, it’s no surprise that his spin-off Surgical Meth Machine project follows a similar thread.
Basically an extension of Ministry, just with some light-hearted elements typically found in some of Jourgensen’s other projects ala Revolting Cocks, Surgical Meth Machine relies heavily upon a machine-gun guitar attack and programmed drums. It’s certainly extreme stuff (“Tragic Alert” really pushes it), layered with a multitude of effects and samples. “I Want More” is as fluid and intimidating as any of Ministry’s early ’90s output, aided by the appearance of former Dead Kennedys vocalist Jello Biafra. But some of these songs flail around in a sea of near-stupidity. “I Don’t Wanna” is dominated, perhaps too much, by Jourgensen’s quirky, pop-flavored delivery; “Unlistenable” breaks off near the end, eliciting some kind of call-and-response with Jourgensen where he rates the current metal and pop bands of the time, while the album’s lead cut, “Invisible” is a misfire at psychedelic rock with a generic vocal line.
With no real plans to turn this into a touring entity or real band, Jourgensen may be spreading himself too thin here, which is saying something—the man has never been at a loss for creating new material. Surgical Meth Machine, though, fails to generate a buzz, let alone anything that would still make one wonder what’s their left for Jourgensen to do at this point.