Review by Rick Ossian
They come both barrels blazing out of what’s left of New Jersey, sounding remotely as if Iggy & the Stooges were hanging with Sabbath and Hawkwind was providing spacey indulgences of all sorts. If you count 25… Tab (as you should quite rightly do), then this is Album #10 for the boys from Red Bank, following 2010’s Mastermind. Where were they, you ask? Probably re-grouping would be my guess. Vending a ‘decadent psych-rock whirlpool’ (Rolling Stone), these cats draw from the same proverbial psychedelic well as Mystick Krewe of Clearlight, Karma to Burn, Clutch and Orange Goblin – only these fellows have drawn from these waters before. Mixing this with mastermind Dave Wyndorf‘s bad-boy growl you get what’s commonly known as Monster Magnet. Superhuman rockers psychedelically inspired though they may be, don’t mention this to Wyndorf, or you may get more growl than you were bargaining for. Recent interviews suggest he may bridle at such suggestions.
On with the tunes, then! Most of the music on display here ranks up with their best, from the extremely psych, Terminator sort of vibe of the epic title track to the church tent boogie of Hallelujah to the psych-punk blues of Mindless Ones. Although we may wish to lump them in with the latest ranks of psych-rock boogie purveyors, let us let temptation lie for the moment. For all intents and purposes, what we are dealing with here is a distinct Monster Magnet vibe. There are doubtless elements of those psychedelic masters that went before them, but they add their own quirks (sic), strangeness and charm, if you will, put a Jersey sort of metal twist to it, and voila – there you have it!
For example, first up is one of my faves, I Live Behind the Clouds. It’s creepy, Sabbath-like intro may weird us out on first listen, but two minutes in they rock like they are possessed banshees. I am beginning to feel like a busted record again, but herein lies the first of many 60’s/70’s psychedelic references. I was reminded of Hawkwind again, but I could also conjure up visions of Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult or even The Sensational Alex Harvey Band. That sense of foreboding that only the mighty Sabbath were capable of creating — the sense that just around the corner, a monster (riff) awaits you. Trust me, listen on and you will NOT be disappointed.
Three Kingfishers is not a Donovan cover, just in case you were wondering. At least I’m pretty sure it’s not. Don’t think the king of hippy-dippy would have envisioned it this way! I have all of the old Donovan LP’s and I don’t remember him EVER sounding like this. Though the melody does start out mellow and acoustic, within a minute we are hopelessly slammed into and end-of-the-world, apocalyptic vibe that these fellows are infamous for creating.
Paradise features a one-string intro, quickly accompanied by vocals and a quick guitar lick, and melds into a sort of psych blues (not for the last time). It is unplugged but it is forceful enough that the punters won’t notice! The aforementioned Mindless Ones is a paean to Marvel’s Doctor Strange, namechecking The Dread Dormammu and The Ancient One, as well as referencing his love interest, Clea (the white-haired girl). It’s not the first time Marvel characters have been referenced on a Monster Magnet album, either. Remember Ego, The Living Planet from Dopes To Infinity? He first appeared in The Mighty Thor #132, then there was the reference to Jack Kirby in Melt on God Says No. Methinks Mr Wyndorf’s time as a comic book shop manager was not just a McJob! Oh and by the way the wah, crybaby and echoplex units are definitely in the ON position here (again, not for the last time).
The Duke of Supernature (another of my particularly choice faves) lulls us into submission with bongos and acoustics in the intro, making us believe it is going to be just another ordinary psych ballad. It is, though the hero appears to have the Austin Powers schtick down to a science (‘checking out the office girls on a Friday afternoon‘ and ‘.I swear I did you baby back in 49 at least’), it is never overbearing or overtly sexist. (what’s wrong with being sexy? – Ed) It sounds as if it would be, but Wyndorf’s delivery negates all creepiness. He sucks you in just when you thought he was being a pervert, or a loser or whatever. Trick is, he is ALL of those things, but he makes you think it’s okay. Now THAT is creepy!
End of Time is an enigma all on its own. Again, another stand out track, the quasi space-punk Hawkwind style intro soon morphs into a rant for all of MM’s enemies. An almost 8-minute ode to revenge, wherein Wyndorf threatens to ‘smoke you fuckers out at the end of time’. Very cool stuff indeed. He sounds like he means it. Stay Tuned, by contrast, is a freaky sort of desert ballad that marks the end of the LP proper. What follows are the ‘bonus’ tracks! Some of you just cringed, I can feel it, but fear not! These are not just extra tracks. These are absolute corkers!
Strobe Light Beatdown features space trucker vocals, a riff-tastic intro and is complete with a psychedelic guitar solo AND a quasi-psych ending as well. One Dead Man includes a briefly strummed intro, then breaks into kicking rock twice, once at about a minute in, then again at about two-and-a-half minutes in! What more could one wish for? Oh, you want a bad-ass CD cover? Wish granted! Go out and buy this, especially if you like heavy grab-your-parts-and-cheer psych rock with a Jersey twist. Monster Magnet may not have gone anywhere, but if you didn’t already realize it, they are back with a vengeance this time! Check it out!