• Monster Magnet – Last Patrol

    Monster Magnet – Last Patrol
    Released by: Napalm Records
    Released on: October 18, 2013.
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    The tenth studio album from New Jersey’s stoner rock long timers Monster Magnet once again finds vocalist/guitarist and founding member Dave Wyndorf up front and center leading the charge. Backing him this time around are Garrett Sweeny and Phil Caivano on lead and rhythm guitar respectively, John Baglino on bass and Bob Pantella on drums, the latter two members having been in the band for over a decade at this point.

    While the band no doubt peeked in popularity with the Dopes To Infinity album (which found that album’s lead single, Space Lord, actually getting some play on the radio and music television long before the stoner rock movement reached the heights of popularity it has enjoyed in the last decade), they’ve been steadily pumping out heavy, psychedelic influenced heaviness on a regular basis since forming in 1989. This newest slab follows in the footsteps of the nine albums that have preceded it, but it still manages to do a few things a little differently. Once again we get a nice mix of sludge, psych and prog melded into some rifftastic metal delivered through eyes and ears seared by a steady diet of comic books and B-movies though there are moments on this record where you have to wonder if they’ve also been listening to more Hawkwind than may be healthy. For the most part though, this mash works, turning into a heady brew of sound easy to get lost in.

    According to the press release for this record, and who am I to argue with a press release, the band consider this a return to their roots in the sense that they’ve used vintage guitars and amps almost exclusively to get the sound they wanted for this record and the whole thing was written in about a week’s time in February of 2013. So this moved fairly quickly, all things considered. As such, you get a bit of a looser sound than you might expect from Monster Magnet, one that isn’t as produced or tricked out with studio polish than some of their other albums are.

    The highlights on the album are, not so surprisingly, when the band kicks things into full gear and hits you with that incredibly full, slick, heavy sound where the guitars just sort of wash over you and take you someplace odd, no outside stimulants required. The best examples of these on this new album are the title track and Hallelujah, both of which are on par with the best of their more recent work. The Duke Of Supernature is a bongo heavy slower track, but it builds in interesting ways and lets Wyndorf’s greaseball vocal style do its things. There’s a whole lot of ‘space rock’ influence here, as usual, but it’s very much front and center this time around and this track sort of personifies in many ways what this band is all about. It’s heavy and trippy without relentlessly ripping off Black Sabbath’s back catalogue and the lyrics are weird and creative and strange without ever sounding stupid.

    It’s also interesting to note the band’s take on Three Kingfishers, a song originally recorded way back when by Donovan. A plucky acoustic intro with some sitar behind it definitely plants us in trippy-hippie territory but over the course of the nearly five minute track, this slowly but surely becomes more layered, more intense and more bizarre. The band definitely makes this song their own, as the vocals start softly but become more aggressive and intense as the track finishes up. What the band does here translates in strange ways into the darker acoustic tracks on the album, they being the opener I Live Behind The Clouds and Paradise. I Live Behind The Clouds is an interesting choice to open with, as you’d expect a band like Monster Magnet to come on with some thunder, but nope, they surprise us by taking it easy here, but lyrically, Wyndorf’s obviously up to no good and as he goes on whatever voyage it is he’s going on, things get… evil. Paradise takes a similar approach, both songs eventually getting to where you’d expect to go with a Monster Magnet track but taking you there by way of the scenic route.

    Finishing up with the fast, chunky End Of Time and then heading into the completely psychedelic Stay Tuned, Monster Magnet have, with this album, delivered an album that, while not their best work, is as odd and unpredictable as you would want given their legacy. It’s a very fitting addition to their catalogue, a solid collection of tracks that are weird, heavy and even occasionally melancholy without ever breaking from their trademark sound. You won’t find yourself banging your head the way you might on some of their other albums, but this feels like a fitting direction for the group to have gone in at this stage and all in all, Last Patrol earns top marks.

    The complete track listing for Last Patrol is as follows:

    I Live Behind The Clouds / Last Patrol / Three Kingfishers / Paradise / Hallelujah / Mindless Ones / The Duke (Of Supernature) / End Of Time / Stay Tuned

    For more info on this compilation check out the Monster Magnet site here and the Napalm Records site here!

    Want a taste? Check out The Duke (Of Supernature) below!

    And to break in the new album, the band is touring for the first time in years, dates and venues are below:

    MONSTER MAGNET With Royal Thunder and Zodiac
    11/14: Grand Rapids, MI @ Intersection
    11/15: Detroit, MI @ St. Andrews
    11/16: Chicago, IL @ Bottom Lounge
    11/17: Minneapolis, MN @ Mill City Nights
    11/19: Denver, CO @ Marquis Theater
    11/20: Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge
    11/22: Seattle, WA @ Neumos
    11/23: Vancouver, BC @ Rickshaw Theater
    11/24: Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theater
    11/26: San Francisco, CA @ The Independent
    11/27: Los Angeles, CA @ House of Blues
    11/29: Tempe, AZ @ Club Red
    11/30: Albuquerque, NM @ Launch Pad
    12/2: Austin, TX @ Red 7
    12/3: Houston, TX @ Fitzgeralds
    12/4: Dallas, TX @ Trees
    12/6: Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade
    12/7: Charlotte, NC @ Amos Southend
    12/8: Baltimore, MD @ Baltimore Sound Stage
    12/10: Toronto, ON @ Lee’s Palace
    12/12: Boston, MA @ Sinclair
    12/13: West Chester, PA @ The Note
    12/14: New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Travis Sheldon's Avatar
      Travis Sheldon -
      Last Patrol does indeed seem like a return to form for MM. Not that they ever lost the way, but Mastermind just left me cold compared to previous releases. One minor nitpick, though. Space Lord is off of 1998's Powertrip album and not Dopes to Infinity. Nice review, nonetheless.