Review Summary: So keep your eye upon the saucer, baby…Ignore the world as it bleeds…You've got your phone and your mirror, what else do you need?
Second, in a row, trip in time and space for the stoner legends to an era where colors were… more colorful and folks more dependent on their senses and less like the over-informed cynics that they are today. It might be that Dave Wyndorf, at this point of his life, feels more at ease revisiting past memories when he was young and impressionable or just his desire to experiment with previous material and see how it feels. Whatever the reason, Cobras and Fire
is once again an interpretation of a previous release within his band’s catalogue. And like Milking the Stars
was a reimagining of Last Patrol
with a strong late ‘60s flavor, Monster Magnet’s latest release puts 2010’s Mastermind
in a time warp and sends it back somewhere around 1969.
That is in theory of course, because in practice Cobras and Fire
sounds more like the soundtrack of an American road movie that deals with late ‘60s/early ‘70s. Eight tracks come from Mastermind
, there’s a cover and a track that is essentially a medley of Magnet’s older songs. Calling this album just stoner rock wouldn’t do justice as it leans greatly towards the psychedelic/spacey side and the alternate arrangements include organ, piano and sitar. There will be times where loyal Monster Magnet fans might get vibes from 25 TAB’s
“Lord 13”, Superjudge’s
“Cage Around the Sun” and “Black Baloon” or “Pill Shovel” from Spine of God
. Overall, the album revolves around mid-tempo songs and is a pretty chill experience. The only exception is the cover of The Temptations’ “Ball of Confusion” which is turned into garage rock similar to MC5, who coincidentally released their masterpiece Kick out the Jams
in 1969. In addition, “Cobras and Fire” and “Gods, Punks and the Everlasting Twilight” are both longer in duration than the originals as they include psych-infused jams.
What’s more, “The Titan” and Time Machine” are turned into instrumentals that mainly serve the purpose of making the album more atmospheric like “Goliath and the Vampires” on Powertrip
. Nevertheless, “The Titan” was and still remains one of the weak links of the album. For most of the time, Cobras and Fire
is a very enjoyable experience that works even more on the heavier moments such as the groovy “She Digs That Hole” with the infectious chorus, the ballsy “Mastermind ‘69” and the slow doom-fused “When The Planes Fall From the Sky”. Also, this version of “Watch Me Fade” works much better than the original as it’s the most “flower power” track of the album as has “single” potential written all over it.
was/is one of the band’s most polarizing efforts, with fans debating whether it’s a fine hard rock album or an overproduced low point in Monster Magnet’s career; and probably unintentionally, Cobras and Fire
will have the same effect. There will be those who feel that a second redux in a row is too much and reeks of stagnation while others will enjoy the album for what it is and view it as an improved experience over its dizygotic twin. Moreover, people who loved Mastermind
for its hard rocking nature might find Cobras and Fire
too fuzzy and tame while “I Live Behind the Paradise Machine” serves no real purpose apart from being a self-indulgent medley of various tracks.
All in all, Dave Wyndorf has completely restructured Mastermind
not to the point where listeners will be unable to recognize the original versions of the songs but enough to make Cobras and Fire
an album that can easily stand by itself within the band’s discography. His voice is once again on top form and the production suits perfectly the final outcome. However, the album could work better without one of the two instrumentals and the medley as they’re all gathered in the second half and some may feel that the album loses steam towards the end. Now if Dave could re-imagine Spine of God…