After the death of Ministry bandmate Mike Scaccia in 2012, the band’s frontman and former walking heroin and alcohol repository Al Jourgensen came to the decision that, after one last release, it was time he retired the Ministry name from active recording duty, keeping the band alive solely as a touring entity.
So, after the release of final studio album ‘From Beer To Eternity’ (AFM, 13th Planet), and with the aid of engineer Sam D’Ambruoso, work began on a brand new project. The eponymously titled début, Surgical Meth Machine’(Nuclear Blast) is the result, and anyone foolish enough to wonder if age or recent events might possibly have led to Uncle Al calming down or mellowing out is going to be in for quite a rude awakening.
Listening to Surgical Meth Machine is like having an aggressive, urine-soaked vagrant grabbing you by the collar and shrieking random shards of broken-toothed, spittle-flecked abuse into your face through cracked, vomit encrusted lips for forty horrifyingly disorienting minutes.
The ranting begins with ‘I’m Sensitive’, which, after a sarcastic opening monologue, bursts into life with all the actual sensitivity of a breeze block as Al screams ‘I DON’T FUCKING CARE!!’ at the top of his lungs. The jagged tirades continue with the Ministry-esque ‘Tragic Alert’ which climaxes with some stupidly fast electronic beats, and things continue in the same vein with ‘I Want More’ as the drum machine really starts to panic.
More bile is spewed as Jourgensen demands ‘Rich People Problems”, and although he clearly doesn’t need any help getting his feelings across, he enlists the help of an equally irritated Jello Biafra on ‘I Don’t Wanna’. “Blah blah blah blah blah!” barks Al on ‘Smash and Grab’ and by now, you really want him to leave you alone.
Things get seriously demented with the aptly titled ‘Unlistenable’ as the poor drum machine finally suffers a complete nervous breakdown and goes to sit in the corner and cry before the boisterous punk of ‘Gates of Steel’ bounces its way into the room like Andrew WK covering Black Flag‘s ‘TV Party’.
Things taper off sharply with ‘Spudnik’ and ‘Just Go Home’, all widdly guitars, drum machines and samples, but with all the impact of a rambling alcoholic losing his way halfway through a sentence. ‘I’m Invisible’ rounds things off. A very different, trippy, but strangely compelling track which sounds like a 3am drive with Timothy Leary and Hunter S Thompson.
With both feet still planted firmly in Ministry territory, Jourgensen shows no real interest in wanting to change or update his sound. If you enjoyed his particular brand of fast, obnoxious, Industrial noise before, then the chances are that this will float your boat just as much. If you want growth or innovation, then you’re probably going to be disappointed. But something tells me Uncle Al doesn’t give one single, solitary fuck about that.
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