Review Summary: Monster Magnet travel through space and time back to 1991 and the psychedelic roots of their music.
Monster Magnet are highly regarded as the forefathers of stoner rock along with the likes of Kyuss, Melvins, Sleep and a few other select artists. However, what distinguished Dave Wyndorf’s band from their contemporaries was the fact that they were much more influenced from acts like Hawkwind and Blue Cheer. The result of this was that they were more psychedelic and spacey rather than sludgy. Their early characteristic sound can be experienced throughout their first three releases. However, from the release of Powertrip
in 1998 onwards, Monster Magnet decided to reduce gradually their psychedelic tendencies in favor of a more straightforward hard rocking sound. Even though Powertrip
was the band’s commercial and to some artistic peak, their subsequent releases where received with mixed reactions. Dave Wyndorf was also on a trip of his own, influenced by drugs and incessant touring which resulted in writing music with a focus on how it sounds during a live performance. Up until now; according to Dave Wyndorf, he wanted to make an album that could be heard at the wee hours of nighttime for introspection rather than partying.
Produced by Monster Magnet’s leader Dave Wyndorf and rhythm guitarist Phil Caivano, Last Patrol
is a trip down memory lane as it depends more on its vintage vibe rather than hard rocking bombast. The band with the help of this album has returned to its roots. The cover art gives the listener a hint regarding the band’s musical approach on this album. Last Patrol
is more psychedelic, spacey and atmospheric than their last few releases bringing their debut Spine of God
to mind. It’s only reasonable that to some it might sound tame but longtime fans may feel that this album could have been released in 1994 before Dopes to Infinity
. Actually, Last Patrol
sounds like a cross between Spine of God
with a cleaner and warmer production that results to a more organic sound. This is also the first album without long time guitarist Ed Mundell who had been with the band since 1992. Interestingly enough, the album features three guitar players, something that goes unnoticed to the untrained ear, making some listeners wonder if the extra guitar brought anything additional to the band’s sound. The lyrics were written within a one week period during February 2013 and Dave Wyndorf sounds pretty great for a 56 year old dude who has fought for a long time with drug addiction.
The listener will mostly find psychedelic space-rock tracks and as with most Magnet albums, this one is also around the 60 minute mark. Most songs follow the same formula; a rather slow start with a build up that includes some excellent guitar solos and Dave Wyndorf’s characteristic vocal delivery. The standout tracks might also be the longest running of the album, namely “Last Patrol” and “End of Time”. The first one may remind to some “Bummer” with its heavy riff and its hypnotic last 3 minutes where the listener feels as if he’s floating through space and heading for a black orb. The latter, creates a sense of urgency from the beginning. It’s energetic and passionate while being equally psychedelic and rocking. Last Patrol
also includes a few acoustic spacey tracks such as “Paradise” that brings to mind “Blow ‘em Off” from Dopes to Infinity
, the hippy “The Duke (of Supernature)” and the dark acoustic “Stay Tuned” that is closely tied and follows the Armageddon of “End of Time”. “Mindless Ones” is the “Negasonic Teenage Warhead” of this album; the cover of “Three Kingfishers” is delivered with a doomy attitude while the opener “I Live Behind the Clouds” is the whole Last Patrol
in a nutshell.
On the other hand, the main drawback of the album is the very fact that it doesn’t bring anything new to the table. Wyndorf and Co. don’t offer something novel to their longtime fans as they deliver a performance strictly within their comfort zone. This leads to the question if Last Patrol
will have a significant lifetime value. The album also includes a couple of songs that could have been left out. I’m wondering what “Hallelujah” adds apart from breaking the monotony of a 100% spacey album.
Overall, Last Patrol
as a whole shows character and sounds better when Monster Magnet decide to go back to their roots. The more rocking songs sound a bit lacking of character and as if they were forcefully placed to break the album’s sameness. However, this is neither an anthemic type of record nor a single focused effort from Monster Magnet. Longtime fans will find elements they can relate to and new listeners will have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the characteristic Monster Magnet sound under the umbrella of a very good production.