Surgical Meth Machine is the latest warped incarnation from Al Jourgensen (Ministry, Lard, Revolting Cocks) with his longtime producer Sam D’Ambruoso and in many ways it acts as a summary document of all his musical explorations. From his early electronic days, through the industrial speed-freak sound of Ministry and the sample-laden diversions of other projects, Jourgensen has always revelled in the sublime and the ridiculous extremes of avant art-rock.
His signature high-velocity apocalyptic sound is still in full effect on the first half of the album with Jourgensen screaming “I don’t fucking care” on I’m Sensitive, the machine-gun metal riffing of album highlight Tragic Alert and the Jello Biafra-assisted (and Lard sounding) I Don’t Wanna.
At the album’s mid-point things take an even more obtuse turn, heralded by the hilarious Unlistenable where the singer rails against the perceived musical crimes of Nickelback, Morrissey, The Cure, Lamb Of God and in typical style – Ministry. The only winner is Devo who “fucking rule!” as Jourgensen launches into a fairly standard rock version of their Gates of Steel. Spudnik is another nod to a musical influence – Sigue Sigue Sputnik – with its swirling glam synths and cyberpunk sound. The back end of the album delves into dark electronica – a pummelling and disorientating blend of brutal psychedelia and cold synthetic beats and samples. We’re left with the Faith No More-styled I’m Invisible, a piece of lounge twang noir with Jourgensen delivering his best sleazy croon.
There’s a grab-bag of styles across the album, all within previously explored realms, yet the humour, sonic irascibility and provocateur attitude of Al Jourgensen is defiantly present and in fine form.