Monster Magnet – Mastermind Review

Monster Magnet // Mastermind
Rating: 4.5/5.0 —Rocks harder than a van parked at Woodstock!
Label: Napalm Records
Websites: |
Release Dates: EU: 29.10.2010 | US: 10.26.2010

Monster Magnet is one of the coolest band names ever, hands down, don’t argue. As for the music they’ve produced, I’ve been back and forth on it over the years. I liked their first two albums with their over-the-top 70’s psychedelic, fuzzed out, space rock worship and I always thought Dopes to Infinity was their crowning achievement in terms of rock songwriting. After that things seemed to go downhill as they drifted toward a more commercial rock sound lacking the style that originally drew me in. Despite this drop off, I never lost respect for band mastermind Dave Wyndorf because he was churning out stoner rock before it was called stoner rock and WAY before it became hip, trendy and “retro.” Like his band, Mr. Wyndorf has had his share of ups and downs but there is no disputing that the guy is stoner rock personified and a living, breathing throwback to another musical era. Therefore, it’s with mucho gladness I report that Mr. Wyndorf and Monster Magnet are back on top in a big way with their eighth album Mastermind.

From note one of opener “Hallucination Bomb” it’s apparent Wyndorf has at least partially returned to his roots, which means thick, Black Sabbath-inspired riffs and a palpable 70’s vibe teamed with strange, often hilariously oddball lyrics. This song is classic Monster Magnet and makes me realize how much I missed their earlier style. However, don’t start expecting another version of Spine of God. As Mastermind unspools to reveal one top-notch rocker after another, it’s clear Monster Magnet has morphed from a stoner rock band into a finely tuned, greasy and dirty American hard rock unit. The 70s vibe is still there but it isn’t always the defining characteristic it once was. Great tracks like “Bored With Sorcery,” “Dig That Hole” and “Gods and Punks” are really just good old fashioned hard rock and some tracks even have a noticeable Clutch vibe to them (“Hallucination Bomb” and the excellent “100 Million Miles Away” in particular). This time out Mr. Wyndorf has really nailed that perfect balance between the older 70s worship and straight-up, no bullshit hard rock and everything about this album feels rejuvenated, hungry and pissed off.

Of the twelve tracks on Mastermind, nine are outright rockers suitable for biker bars, auto shops and strip clubs. The remaining three are more mellow, emotional tracks which work well with the possible exception of “The Titan Who Cried Like a Baby” which goes on too long without much energy. Special mention must go to “When the Planes Fall from the Sky” for its slow, dirge-like pace and evil, menacing mood. A great, great song on an album full of great songs!

The guitar work from Ed Mundell and Phil Caivano is superb across the entirety of Mastermind and this is a very riff driven rock album. Nearly every track contains rocking, catchy riffs and the soloing is spot on for this type of rock, retaining enough stylistic flashbacks to the 70’s for even their oldest fans (check out “Perish in Fire” which also includes bongo drums!). Alongside the outstanding riffery, Wyndorf’s vocals are even better than usual with some extra piss and vinegar in them, especially on “Gods and Punks” and “When the Planes Fall From the Sky.” Additionally, his lyrics are excellent, alternating between completely wacko, funny as hell and morose.

This is by far the best and most consistently great album Monster Magnet has made since forever and the first to successfully merge their past with their more recent direction. I haven’t stopped playing this album for two days and I have no plans to stop doing so anytime soon. Total win for Mr. Wyndorf and the Magnet!

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