Review Summary: "You're alive, you're alive, baby, you're so alive!"
Monster Magnet found commercial success where nobody thought it was possible. Their stoner hard rock blend with occasional psychedelic outings has always flirted with the mainstream, as it was more immediate and digestible for the masses than any of their fellow peers' music. When Powertrip
finally brought them into the wide public's eyes, it turned them from cult status into full blown rock stars. Still, Dave Wyndorf & Co. never compromised and kept his fantasy going the way he'd planned, so he fed his fans with two inspired, yet financially disastrous efforts, God Says No
and Monolithic Baby!
. He was aware of the upcoming consequences, but reproducing the hits as second-hand material is something these guys would never lower themselves to do. At the same time, their shows became increasingly renowned as wild and cathartic and so did the lifestyle. All the heavy touring and partying got the best of them, especially out of the mastermind front man, Dave Wyndorf.
Waiting for a follow up to hit the streets, MM was put to a halt when the man overdosed on sleeping pills in February 2006. While such unfortunate events can easy cease activity or produce major changes in both sound and mindset, Dave returned with 4-Way Diablo
, a record that not only showed his full recovery, but his will to move on from the decadent predecessors. What started as a garage-psych project, reportedly turned more into a masked, rarities/b-sides compilation interspersed with newer material. There are elements of the original plans that pop up especially on the title track and several segments of others, but it became a blend of old and new, with some gems and average tunes.
Highlights include the fantastic, straightforward rocker, 'Wall Of Fire', that kicks in like a punch in the face, showing that Dave feels stronger than ever. Its irresistible chorus and infectious melody makes it classic Monster Magnet. Also, 'Blow Your Mind' and 'Slap In The Face' are both powerful and groovy. They have cool rhythms which showcase that trademark bad ass attitude that got the band renowned in the first place. For the old fans, who got their psychedelic stoner fix from their early output, there's 'Freeze And Pixelate', an interesting, Eastern-tinged instrumental that segues into the late night jam, 'A Thousand Stars', which has a nice, desert vibe.
The lyrics are another interesting aspect, since they focus more on moments before and after the overdose. In between all the witty comments, there are various inserted lines where Dave confesses the impending doom using different scenarios such as this one on the title track: "I was smoking on a cigarette/I was waiting on a plane/When I saw reality just go down the drain[...]The 4-Way Diablo is coming back again". He knows he's lucky to be alive (hell, 'You're Alive' directly addresses this) and finally, on the short, album-closing ditty, 'Little Bag Of Gloom', he gives some advice to the listeners: "Think we're falling into darkness, running blind/You got troubles, yes it's true, and they all begin with you/If you don't let somebody in, you're gonna die in liar's gin". Much like all his lyrics, most is masked under a science-fiction/fantasy curtain, but taking it from a man in his 50s, who lived the rock'n'roll experience for over 15 years prior the event, it must mean something.
Unfortunately, 4-Way Diablo
is the first Monster Magnet effort that feels too long. They have always maintained those album-oriented concepts and somehow each one came with its own complete journey. Here, however, there are some tracks that tend to drag and go nowhere, such as 'I'm Calling You', 'No Vacation' or 'Solid Gold'. They are nice, yet they pale in comparison to the highlights. If trimmed, the album would've been tighter and easier to digest. Nevertheless, it's still impressive, considering the fact that the bulk of it is comprised mostly out of old ideas. Even though Dave didn't detail the origins of the tunes, it shows how constantly good these guys really are and there was a time when everything they recorded turned to gold. So, this is a record that will be cherished most by hardcore fans, but newcomers and casual listeners can easily get fond of the highlights.