2 of 2 thought this review was well written
Monster Magnet started of in the early 90s as with fuzz drenched psychedelic space rock. Their first full length-album Spine of God from 1991 (and EPs Monster Magnet and Tab) were rocking mind trips. Put on your headphones, smoke some if you want, and float away. Like written on the back sleeve of the Spine of God album: "It's a satanic drug thing, you wouldn't understand...". Their next album Superjudge (1993) had a less fuzzy and more structured space feel, like a modern kind of Hawkwind. On the album Dopes to Infinity (1995) they're slowly moving to a more straightforward rock approach with more compact and traditional rock songs, while keeping the spacey/stoner feeling. Their fourth full length, Powertrip from 1998, is a turning point. Monster Magnet has become a rock band, no space rock, fuzz, stoner or whatever, but a rock band. And a pretty good one at that. The best known song from Powertrip is the hit single Space Lord, which is, in my opion, one of the weakest songs on the album. Initially I didn't like their 2nd last album, God Says No from 2001, at all. I'm a sucker for the psychedelic era MM and those days are gone. After several listens though, I started to like the, on first impression, very simple songs and found there is a lot more to them if you give it time.
So I tried the same with their latest effort, Monolithic Baby! released in 2004. I didn't like it at first, so I gave it time. Almost a year old, I think I gave it enough time :) Please keep in mind that Monster Magnet has moved away from my musical preferences, but as a long time MM fan (since 1992) really trying to like this album I just had to review it.
1. Slut Machine (3:29)
Very straight forward (but frantic) rock. Simple chords, little change in pace or setting. It's one of those songs that work very well played live but there's little incentive to listen to it on CD. Unless you want to pick up your air guitar and play rock star at home. But there are better songs for that. 2/5
2. Supercruel (3:40)
Simple rhythms/riffs, with slightly catchy vocal lines. This song is very much a collection of ideas from songs of their previous albums (Powertrip and God Says No). Ok-ish, but not more than that. 2/5
3. On The Verge (5:54)
Starting off with relaxing guitar and singing, the song is slowly gaining power. Good vocal lines that are quite infectious. This is good since the vocals are the main part of this song. Where the first two songs sound straightforward and fairly bland this is the first track where I actually feel involved. The tempo increase/noise at the end sound out of place and doesn't give the song a fitting ending 3/5
4. Unbroken (Hotel Baby) (3:42)
Another song where Monster Magnet 'borrowed' to much of their own work. I can see why, if you'd have to chose one, this track was chosen as single. It's mindless poprock with a sing-along chorus. Well executed, but nothing special. At all. 2/5
5. Radiation Day (4:48)
Catchy song with a nice groove to it. For the first time this album they seem to have found the right mix of groove, melody and change. 3/5
6. Monolithic (4:43)
Starts off with a straightforward rhythm, with slightly distorted drone vocals, which works quite well. The chorus (with clean vocals) is typically Monster Magnet and after the first chorus the vocals stay clean (but raw). The bridge is right on time, followed by a solo, and the chorus again. All standard ingredients it seems. Just over half way the ending is started by repeating and fading. The foundation for a good solid song is there, but then it fizzles. 3/5
7. The Right Stuff (4:32)
For the album Superjudge (1993) Monster Magnet wrote and recorded the song Dinosaur Vacuum, often described to be more Hawkwind than Hawkwind will ever be. The Hawkwind influences (very driving groove, spacey sounds) were very apparent on that album and the great cover of Hawkwind's masterpiece Brainstorm only emphasized that. In the last 10 years MM have turned from the space rock sound to a more straight forward heavy rock 'n roll sound, but this song would've fitted perfectly on Superjudge. It's another Hawkwind cover (technically it's a Robert Calvert cover I believe), and it's great. A simple repetitive groove sets the base and guitars are floating all around creating a very spacey and psychedelic sound. The slightly distorted and monotone vocals are right on the spot, emphasizing on the groovy sound. Simple, but very effective. Too bad for MM the first great song on the album is a cover... 4/5
8. There's No Way Out of Here (4:10)
Uh oh, it starts of as a standard ballad. And what's worse, it stays a standard ballad. It's a David Gilmour cover and although I don't know the original I can see it work with a Pink Floyd kind of dreaminess. But this performance it's like I'm listening to Europe, only the sound of Dave Wyndorf's vocals remind me of the fact I'm actually listening to Monster Magnet.It's not a bad song per se, but for Monster Magnet it is 2/5
9. Master of Light (4:45)
What this? An obvious drum computer beat? After a bit of tension building the song alternates between fairly quiet, almost spoken, verses and explosive choruses. It works well and the bridge really adds to the song. The last minute is spent repeating the chorus, adding 'heys'. A Typical late Monster Magnet song, so not really surprising, but well done. 4/5
10. Too Bad (3:33)
Black Balloon! The start of this song is almost the same as Black Balloon from Superjudge only it's nowhere near as good. A semi-acoustic peaceful track that is a bit too much of an 'aha-erlebnis' and has too little going for it. Filler material. 2/5
11. Ultimate Everything (7:25)
Fuzz! More fuzz! Those are my first thoughts when I hear this song. It has the psychedelic feel of older MM material, only played slower. Actually it would fit right in on Superjudge or Dopes to Infinity. It's a slow doom like song with plenty going on (so not boring at all), while the vocals keep it the song on track and prevent it running (floating?) loose for the first half. It has a very much a feeling of a jam to it, which I like very much. 4.5/5
12. CNN War Theme (3:36)
Monster Magnet's theme to war news coverage. An mostly instrumental track with a slight Arabic influences. It has a certain f*cked up, hyped, feeling to it that works (and fits the title) well but it does not have very much replay value. 3/5
I'm disappointed with this album. Only a few songs are worth it (The Right Stuff, Master of Light and Ultimate Everything) and none of them is really anything MM hasn't done before. I have pretty much all of Monster Magnet's official releases (including singles in all variations) and I have several bootlegs, and I don't really see the added value of this album, except to complete my collection.
I give this album 2.5/5
It's not for the die-hards only but it's not something every 'genre fan' will like. If you are new to Monster Magnet, I recommend picking up Dopes to Infinity instead, which is their most accessible album that still gives a decent impression of their entire catalog.
The rating may seem a bit harsh, at least I feel that way, but I can't make any more of it. I want to add that the band absolutely ROCKS live. I've seen them several times through the years and (a current) Monster Magnet gig is a fantastic adrenaline driven rock 'n roll show, somewhat over the top even. However this is a studio effort and I don't see the point in listening to it much. MM has released much better stuff and I prefer any of their earlier albums, or EPs even, over this one.
I know there are people out there who love it, so feel free to post your review if you can think you can do the album more justice.
For a full biography, discography and much more check out the definite MM fan site: "A Tribute to Monster Magnet" at [url]http://www.stonerrock.com/magnet[/url]
Final note: this is my first review here and my first ever in English. Any (constructive) criticism is appreciated as I found it rather hard to describe music in a language other than my mother-tongue.