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CD Review: MONSTER MAGNET- Mastermind

Posted on October 18, 2010

by James Zalucky

Before saying anything else, I'll admit that I wasn't expecting very much from this album. I never really liked MONSTER MAGNET, except for some stuff off their 1995 album, Dopes to Infinity. Otherwise, many of their well-known songs remind me too much of the painful mediocrity of the late 90's, especially in the world of contemporary hard-rock. If someone were to ask me about the band, I'd probably tell them to listen to KYUSS instead. So I tried to keep an open about their new record, Mastermind, as I started the first song: Hallucination Bomb.

My first reaction: Holy Crap!!!

What a riff, and what a great groove! Dave Wyndorf's melodies are perfectly constructed to fit the song's enormously heavy Sabbath-style riff. He goes from his trademark mid range stoner voice and switches to a higher, throaty yell at just the right moments. The band takes this momentum and cranks it up with a kick-in-the-face rocker called Bored With Sorcery, with a strong driving verse and catchy chorus that keeps you engaged and hoping for more. During the bridge, the band uses some fuzzy vocal effects before cracking into a solid guitar solo riding into the final chorus. These first two songs: a slab of heavy doom followed by the solid, driving rocker- gets the album off to a great start.

And then, after this brief shot of brilliant energy, the album seems to just drop off. Dig That Hole tries to be a sludgy, witty dirge, but never really captures the power its looking for. The next song, Gods and Punks, I found to be one of the weakest songs on the record- and yet…MONSTER MAGNET has chosen this to be its first single. The lyrics have the makings of classic, space-rock wit: "I'm a stoned jet-fighter with a heart of gold, well I'm really mad and I'm really old"- but even with Wyndorf's strong execution, the relative emptiness in the background starves the song of its energy. Instead of giving the chorus a full-sounding, heavily distorted blast- the song leaves you with a thin sounding progression with a tambourine shaking in the background (just like the late-90's all over again…).

Things get more interesting on the next song however, with the hazy, almost NINE INCH NAILS-like darkness of The Titan Who Cried Like a Baby. Then there's this awesome line from the title-track: "Punk-rockers love what's in the Yoohoo machine"- Hah! The rest of the album goes back and forth between faster-paced tracks like 100 Million Miles and heavy dirges like When The Planes Fall From The Sky.

In general, this push and pull method gives the album a sense of cohesion, enabling the songs to flow nicely from one to the next. The chunky riffs, hazy grooves, and silly lyrics of Mastermind should please plenty of MONSTER MAGNET's fans. That said, I wish that the band had kept the energy and heaviness going through the entire album, rather than blasting it away on the first two songs- making for a decent decent album that could have been a great one. In short: the album starts off like a raging fire, but leaves the listener with little more than smoke and ashes.

Favorite tracks: Hallucination Bomb, Bored With Sorcery, The Titan Who Cried Like a Baby, Mastermind

6.5 out of 10

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