First of all, I know one of the big gripes with tapes is that they look lousy, not enough artwork, and so forth, but Monster Magnet‘s 25 …..Tab looks friggin’ awesome. The half-Planet of the ApesBullgod Statue of Liberty’s extended arm draws the eye vertically in a way it never did on CD or vinyl, and the cardboard stock of the liner is durable enough to stand up to the ages it’s already seen.
I picked up 25 …..Tab recently at Sound Exchange, my local CD joint in Wayne. They have a whole wall of tapes and they’re usually a little on the expensive side for what I’m willing to shell out on a cassette, but I think they’re just as happy to have the room, which if you’ve ever tried to walk down either of the two aisles in the place you’ll know is in short supply. In the end, it cost me circa $5, and has proved worth every penny.
The album is readily available on CD. SPV reissued it and Monster Magnet‘s 1991 landmark Spine of Goddebut in 2006, and it was out before that as well. I have those editions, but this tape is the original US issue on Caroline Records from 1993. That’s still two years after it came out in Europe on Glitterhouse, but it’s the earliest domestic release and it’s 20 years ago either way and I was stoked to find it. With just the four tracks “Tab…,” “25,” “Longhair” and “Lord 13,” it’s as psychedelic as Monster Magnet ever got during this era of the band.
Or, you know, any other, since it was their most psychedelic era.
And their ultra Hawkwindian jamming on “Tab…” comes across excellently on the tape, sounding all the more raw and classically compressed. The song is an EP unto itself at over half an hour long, and it takes up the entirety of side A, which makes “25,” “Longhair” and “Lord 13″ something like an incremental return to earth, the latter being the most straightforward of the bunch, despite all the backing mouth noises and echoes from Dave Wyndorf, whistles and guitar effects and the rest built around a solid guitar strum and percussion line.
By the time they get there, it’s been a long trip. “Tab…” was always considered an EP even though technically speaking it’s has more of a runtime than Spine of God, and its relative obscurity in the Monster Magnet catalog is no less a factor two decades on than it ever was, considering nobody’s sure yet what to call the damn thing, whether it’s Tab, Tab 25, 25 Tab, or 25 …..Tab, which I took right off the cover. Any name you give it, however, it remains unique in the band’s discography and as warped a tape as you could ever hope to find.
A couple weeks ago, I asked the question above: “What are the 10 greatest stoner rock records?” It was kind of just something I was throwing out there to see what came back. Nothing scientific, pretty vague on what “stoner rock” actually meant as a genre designation. Basically just trying to get a spur-of-the-moment response, like an inkblot test for riffs. First thing that comes to mind.
The response was awesome, so before anything else, thank you to everyone who contributed a list to the original post. I was taken aback by the number of replies that came in — a total 73 comments — and the resultant breadth of records named reads like a wishlist of the damned. Some people were pretty orthodox in their definition of the genre, and some more open in the bands they included, but working from everyone’s lists, I tallied up the votes, and while I don’t necessarily agree with all the choices personally (I added my own list as a comment to the initial post, so I won’t bother reprinting it), it was a blast to see what emerged on top. The people have spoken.
I tried to be as fair as I could in the tallying. There were some comments left that were individual songs and not albums, and those I didn’t count, but everything else went in, even if it was only mentioned once, and when someone said, for example, “Melvins – all,” I actually added a tally to everything by the Melvins that everyone else had said. Again, it’s not really a scientific thing polling demographic data, but it was a lot of fun.
Okay, here’s the list:
The Top 10 Greatest Stoner Rock Records Poll Results:
1. Kyuss, Welcome to Sky Valley (41 votes)
2. Sleep, Sleep’s Holy Mountain (27 votes)
3. Black Sabbath, Master of Reality (19 votes)
4. Kyuss,Blues for the Red Sun (18 votes)
5. Monster Magnet,Spine of God (15 votes)
5. Sleep,Dopesmoker(15 votes)
7. Electric Wizard, Dopethrone(14 votes)
7. Fu Manchu, In Search Of… (14 votes)
9. Queens of the Stone Age, Queens of the Stone Age (12 votes)
10. Fu Manchu, The Action is Go (10 votes)
As you can see, some real classics in there, and Welcome to Sky Valleywas far and away the winner, picked by 41 out of the 73 people (myself included), with Sleep and Black Sabbath behind. There were two ties at numbers five and seven, but beyond that, it’s a pretty clear picture of where people are at with their favorites.
What about everything else? Well, it was all counted. I broke all the entries down by number of votes and listed them by artist with albums in chronological order.
Posted in Reviews on January 16th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
There was a moment, as I made my way around the block of North 6th St. in Brooklyn last Friday night, that I thought I’d never be able to find parking, and that I would just spend the rest of my days driving in that circle, like something out of The Twilight Zone. Maybe it would be some bitterly ironic punishment for having one time inadvertently dicked someone out of a spot, masterminded by that person secretly like Saw. I don’t know. Either way, I was sure I’d never get to the Music Hall of Williamsburgin time to see Monster Magnet, Naam or Quest for Fire, let alone LadyKiller, who were opening the show.
Turns out the opener was the only act I actually missed. I wound up finding a spot right outside the Academy Records Annex and rushed down the block to the venue with just enough time to spare to get my ticket and head in for the start of Quest for Fire. I felt like I lucked out. The room wasn’t too full as they got going, and as they opened with “Greatest Hits by God” from 2010′s Lights From Paradise (review here), it seemed like the universe was suddenly in the business of doing me personal favors. Amazing how fickle luck can feel.
I remembered standing outside the Bat Cave at Roadburn while Quest for Fire played, getting up on the bench along the wall opposite the open door of the room and trying at least to soak in some of their set and being tragically unsuccessful. To see them now, especially alongside labelmates Naam, was enough for me to make the difference between catching Monster Magnet in Brooklyn or going one night later to see them at the Starland Ballroom on a bill populated by pay-to-play openers. Seems like an easy call, but when you factor rolling into Williamsburg on a Friday night, you gotta really like Quest for Fire to make that weigh out.
Playing on Naam‘s equipment, the Toronto psych rockers justified the trip — both mine and theirs. Their songs were heavier in person, and rawer without the layering that comes through so lush on Lights From Paradise and its 2009 self-titled predecessor. Part of that is probably due to the fact they were down a guitar. Chad Ross, who also handles vocals, was playing bass, but even with just Andrew Moszynski‘s guitar, their psychedelia was subdued and moody where it wanted to be and never out of control when heavy, and drummer Mike Maxymuik gave each piece a dynamic pulse.
When they finished, I went out front to look for their merch, hoping to find a copy of Worldwide Skyline from Ross‘ solo-project, Nordic Nomadic, or maybe some other goodies, but no such luck. Monster Magnet had a tour-exclusive EP called Dopes for $15 that I’m still not quite sure why I didn’t buy, and neither Quest for Fire or Naam had anything for sale. Oh well. I didn’t get a shirt either. Or beer. All things considered, it was a pretty austere night. A $4 bottle of water and gas on the way home. Go figure.
Having seen them twice at Santos Party House in Manhattan last year (here and here), I knew enough to be sure Naam would do well in the role of the hometown heroes, and joined by the keys that seem to be more and more a regular fixture, they did just that. I had been hoping for some new material and it came in the form of “Starchild,” the title-track of their next EP, reportedly due in May. I’d heard the song live before, but it’s grown some in the months since, both in jammed-out presence and actual length. Naam have done a fair amount of touring at this point (most recently in Europe with Black Rainbows), and it showed in their performance.
They didn’t play many songs for time constraints, but guitarist/vocalist Ryan Lugar seemed more at ease on stage and bassist Ryan Preston Bundy‘s vocals were both better mixed and more confident than any other time I’ve been fortunate enough to see the band play. If they’re the hometown heavy psych heroes, it’s because of the wandering they’ve done in the past.
And maybe it’s just because with the Monster Magnet kit backlined behind him he was pushed further toward the front of the stage, or maybe it was following Maxymuik, but drummer Eli Pizzuto seemed to be especially crisp in his performance. Through the newer stuff and Naam‘s standard closer, “Kingdom,” from the EP of the same name, his fills served more than basic percussive function, and his focus was intense to the point of intimidation. While Lugar had his sway to the riffs and Bundy was ready at a moment’s notice to tilt his head back and hoist his beard aloft like an offering to the gods of facial hair who’ve blessed him with it, Pizzuto a little bit looked like he wanted to kick someone’s ass, and the variation in stage presences among the four players on stage only enriched the experience of their set.
It was almost like two shows rolled into one, though. You had Naam and Quest for Fire on one side, and then Monster Magnet coming from somewhere else completely. Sure, this was the tour where they were performing 1995′s Dopes to Infinity in its entirety, and you won’t hear me deny that record is a classic of American heavy psych rock, but where Naam and Quest for Fire both feel like they’re just getting to that point in their careers, that they’re really getting a handle on their aesthetic and the creativity they can bring to the form, Monster Magnet have long since moved onto something different, sound-wise, so for them to revisit it in Brooklyn was, in light of everything they’ve done since on their subsequent and more straightforward hard rock records, a bit incongruous.
For example, after Naam was done, the mood in the room changed. It was packed by then — a diverse crowd of fans young and old, some hard rockers and some heavy rockers — and as Monster Magnet‘s crew set up and checked the gear, it was like the air got colder, more clinical. It’s been a long time now since Monster Magnet decided they were a professional band, and the thing about Dopes to Infinity and their material preceding it is that they weren’t really professional albums, so as the crew taped down setlists all over the stage on all four sides, taped down wires so they wouldn’t get tangled, shifted monitor positions and warmed up the amps for guitarists Garrett Sweeny (of Riotgod) and Phil Caivano and bassist Jim Baglino (also Riotgod), I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if Monster Magnet just came out and played?
I realize that at this stage in the band’s career, that’s an unreasonable expectation. It’s not what they’re about. They’re about a more commercial brand of hard rock — one with a bent in the songwriting that appreciates the structures of late ’60s and early ’70s classics and with no shortage of personality thanks to the lyrics and vocals of band founder and principal songwriter Dave Wyndorf — but still a huge step away sonically from the band’s beginnings. Once they got going following a long stretch of house lights down, no one on stage and sitar drones coming through the P.A., watching Monster Magnet in 2012 play Dopes to Infinity was like seeing a completely different band.
Because it was a different band. Their last connection to that era, apart from Wyndorf himself, was lead guitarist Ed Mundell, who left following the release of 2010′s Mastermind (review here). Rounded out by drummer Bob Pantella (also Riotgod and The Atomic Bitchwax), the latest Monster Magnet lineup around Wyndorf is built to rock the way new Monster Magnet rocks — and they’re good at it, but it’s enough of a difference from what they did on Dopes to Infinity to be notable and definitely affected their interpretations of the material on stage at the Music Hall of Williamsburg.
One can’t really fault them for it, since they’re different musicians with different modes of playing than those that originally appeared on the album, and I won’t deny that Monster Magnet rocked the Dopes stuff hard, playing it out of the original order to better account for it being a live show and saving “Negasonic Teenage Warhead” for the encore. “Look to Your Orb for the Warning,” the title-track, “Dead Christmas” and “All Friends and Kingdom Come” were highlights as they are on the record, but the apex of the show came with “Third Alternative.” Wyndorf, ever one for killer stage banter, prefaced it by saying, “As this thing goes on, it gets darker — kinda like life, huh?” but then laughed it off and said, “But we won’t talk about that.” Why not? For a song that says, “I’ll stuff myself in a pit of darkness and slam till I can’t see home,” it’s not like there’s any beating around the bush going on. Own it.
That was the darkest part of their show, and among the most honest. Wyndorf nailed the delivery of the vocals — he called the song a “21st Century blues,” which was a little ironic since it came out in ’95 — and then left the stage as the band transitioned into the instrumental “Theme From ‘Masterburner’” before regular-set closer “King of Mars.” The crowd was in their pocket the whole time, and didn’t thin out at all when they finished “King of Mars” and went backstage, where they stayed long enough for me to get distracted and let my mind wander. It was late by most show standards these days, getting on 1AM, but there was no way I was missing the encore.
My perpetual hope is that at some point I’ll see them do “Spine of God” and have my consciousness fractured by it, spending the rest of my days in blissful, devastated catatonia. The reality — no doubt in part due to the circumstances of the band I described above — would no doubt be different, but if reason had anything to do with it, it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun. Nonetheless, no such luck on the encore. They did “Negasonic Teenage Warhead,” a welcomed plodding rendition of Mastermind opener “Hallucination Bomb,” “Powertrip” and, naturally, “Space Lord,” their biggest hit and most unavoidable single. Even if they didn’t want to play it, they couldn’t not.
Wyndorf himself acknowledged this, giving the most concise summation I’ve ever heard of a band’s view on their own material. As Sweeny and Caivano began the riff to “Space Lord,” he said, “Obvious? Yes. Necessary? Yes!” He was right. For whatever reason, Monster Magnet had to do “Space Lord,” and everyone knew it was coming, and everyone dug the hell out of it. I spent all of the subsequent Saturday with the chorus ringing in my ears — it’s simply undeniable.
So too is Monster Magnet‘s legacy. They may have departed sonically the field in which their influence is most felt, namely heavy psych and stoner rock, but their stage presence in the current incarnation is remarkable, and the players with whom Wyndorf has surrounded himself are masters at what they do — Caivano and Sweeny on guitar, Baglino like some kind of born rock and roll salesman on bass and Pantella on drums. I left the show and went back to my car outside the Academy Annex, stared down the block at the luxury riverfront condos that stood where once there had been vacant lots and run-down warehouses, and had to recognize for a moment that nothing is static, nothing stays undeveloped and that to ask the present to be the past is foolish. Dopes to Infinity had its day, Monster Magnet were as faithful to it as they wanted to be 17 years later. You either enjoy it for what it was or sulk, and sulking seemed to me a waste of time.
Extra pics after the jump, and thanks for reading.
Sorry for the lack of posts today. Last night I got a text informing me of the death of my friend and the most faithful of the NYC faithful, Rock and Roll Gina Brooks. Gina was someone who I met when I was still in college, doing a stoner rock show on college radio. She came to my gigs, she called me while I was on the air. When I started at the Aquarian the first time, she read that. She commented to me about my Metal Maniacs articles, and my reviews here. We hung out at shows. She was one of the most loyal and supportive people I’ve ever met. I gave her absolutely no reason to, and yet she always had faith in me.
This morning was the service, and not wanting to make a show of my grief, I’ll just say that I wasn’t in the headspace for writing and anything I did manage to type up wouldn’t have been focused or fair to whatever I was writing about. Over the weekend, I’ll get my head together and get that Elder interview finally posted, and the November numbers, and maybe one or two news stories that have come in since last night. I don’t even really know, to be honest with you.
And next week we’ll pick back up with reviews. I’ll be at Hull/Eyehategod on Sunday in Brooklyn. I should hopefully have words and pics from that come Monday, and I’ve got a new CD from Aussie heavy psych mavens Looking Glass that’s just begging for a writeup, so that’ll be fit in one way or another. There’s other stuff too, and if I can, I’ll have my interview with Ken-E Bones of Negative Reaction posted. That dude’s always got something to say, so you know it’ll be interesting.
Audio to come as well from a cool sound installation called Sun Boxes, and there always seems to be much more than I can handle going on, but I’ll do my best with it, as always. The semester is winding down now and things are relatively quiet at work, so I hope to be able to have more of a grip on everything. Just not today.
Wherever you are, a great and safe weekend, please. See you on the forum and back here over the next couple days. Until then, the Monster Magnet is for Gina.
I don’t really buy into the whole Record Store Day thing. It’s cool that the website has a map I can find stores on wherever I go, but honestly, I don’t buy vinyl and just about every payday is “record store day” for me. As an institution, I think the record store is something worth saving, which is why I go to record stores and spend my money on a regular basis. Well, that and the records, anyway.
As I’ve been out of the country three Record Store Days in a row, I thought I’d do a little pre-shopping this year and while I was in Connecticut for the weekend earlier this month, I swung by my favorite shop in the state, Redscroll Records in Wallingford. It’s always good to know you’re on friendly ground, and when I walked in, they were playing Black Pyramid‘s self-titled album, so I immediately felt at home. Time before last, if you’ll recall, it was Sleep‘s Dopesmoker.
It doesn’t quite match the batch of discs I pulled in last time I was there in the fall, but I still managed to find some good stuff. I grabbed yet another Monster Magnet promo CD — it’s amazing how many there are floating around — called Five Reasons to Testify that has the awful God Says No shot of them with Dave Wyndorf‘s metal codpiece on the front (I’m not even going to show it, as well as the first Firebird record, the first Quest for Fire and the 1999 Bong Load Custom Records issue of Fireball Ministry‘s Où est la Rock? Not a bad haul, all told.
The Firebird I’d picked up at the band’s merch table at Roadburn 2009, but that was the European reissue and this was the original on The Music Cartel, so I couldn’t resist. When I reviewed the second Quest for Fire album, Lights from Paradise, I said that I’d have to go back and buy the first, and it was good to do that, although I think I prefer the second anyway. I couldn’t remember if I owned the Fireball Ministry or not, but decided to take the chance anyway and it paid off. The record kind of rules. Very Fu Manchu, except maybe for the Obsessed-esque “Death Dealer,” which actually features Guy Pinhas on bass, but enjoyable throughout. Probably the most stoner rock of all their albums, which suits me just fine.
There’s a hole punched in the UPC of the Fireball Ministry, which means it was probably someone’s promo, and I always think that’s interesting, and wonder who got the record initially, what they did or didn’t do with it and how they came to sell it. Every time I get emailed another link to download a new release, I get that “born too late” feeling. I’ve gotten plenty in my day, don’t get me wrong, but when I think of the shit that could have come in my mail (all those Monster Magnet promos, for one) and all the silver-backed bootleg CDs I could have bought in the pre-CDR era, I get a little sad. I guess we make the most with what we’ve got. It’s fun hunting this stuff down, anyway.
Most likely I’ll be back at Redscroll before too long, but just figured I’d share anyway, since it’s a quality store and deserves to have the word spread about it as much as possible. Check them out here if you haven’t yet, or find them on that Facebook the kids love so much.
Posted in Reviews on February 21st, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
When I’d called Starland Ballroom earlier in the evening to ask what time Monster Magnet went on, and been told 9:30PM, that was a dirty fucking lie. I rolled in at 9PM thinking I’d catch the tail end of Seventh Void, and instead, A Pale Horse Named Death — fronted by Life of Agony drummer Sal Abruscato on vocals and one of the total three guitars — was just starting up. Thanks a lot, box office girl. True, I didn’t want to risk a Sunday night DWI and I had to get up for work this morning, but there was a bit of spite added to my lack of drinking, to be sure.
It wasn’t crowded, but there were more people than I thought would be there. The least crowded I’ve ever seen Starland was for Candlemass — which was shameful, how empty it was — but by no means was it packed even by the time Monster Magnet took the stage. For A Pale Horse Named Death, there was a decent amount of people who’d shown up early or because they’d heard it was the LOA drummer’s band and maybe they’d play “Through and Through” or something. They didn’t. Instead it was a mediocre but passable kind of doom rock, topped off with the charm of Abruscato inviting everyone in the crowd back to his house after the show for sausage and peppers, which I can only imagine would have been delicious.
Johnny Kelly, drummer for Type O Negative and Seventh Void — which also features Type O guitarist Kenny Hickey — played in A Pale Horse Named Death, pulling double duty for the evening. I think it was their first show, but they were clearly enjoying themselves, and having grown up as a heavy metal Jersey boy, I have trouble begrudging them the good time they looked to be having. However, someone should really point out to Abruscato that it was Death riding the pale horse, and that the horse itself was not Death. Five dudes in the band, you’d think someone would have been on that already.
The first time I saw Seventh Void was at The Trash Bar in Brooklyn, and they weren’t nearly that good at Starland, but they put on a more than respectable show anyway, playing songs off their Heaven is Gone full-length and what sounded like some new material, Hickey of course shouting a song (“Last Walk in the Light”) out to departed Type O Negative bassist/vocalist Peter Steele. That was bound to happen, and Hickey has stepped into the frontman role nicely in Seventh Void, which is encouraging to see. I doubt they’ll hit the commercial heights of his and Kelly‘s former band — the shitbag musical climate having something to do with that as well — but at least they’re still working.
You have to understand, back in 1993, at the tender age of 12, I used to call Pure Rock Q104.3 every single day and request Type O Negative‘s “Black No. 1,” and they, Life of Agony and Monster Magnet were the local bands that made good. As a kid just really figuring out what I liked, it was a big deal to see their videos on MTV. I think everyone has those bands. So it’s not that I didn’t enjoy this show, and it’s not that I didn’t know what I was going to get, I just have my attachments to these dudes’ work (the fauxhawk bassist and girlie-shirt second guitarist of Seventh Void notwithstanding) already set, and that’s not about to change.
It was the first time Monster Magnet played New Jersey in years, and it was clear the varying camps of supporters present at the Starland Ballroom. There was the “Space Lord” contingent, who maybe got into them from their 1998 mega-hit, the local loyalists, who’d have shown up even if they were playing the pits of hell (or worse, Asbury Park — zing!), and the stoner rock heads hoping for some older material in the set list. I count myself a bit in the latter two camps, and to the band’s credit, they did their best to feed everyone — opening with “Nod Scene” was a nice touch — and still manage to push the songs from their latest album, 2010′s Mastermind.
My heart sank when I snapped a picture of their setlist and read that “Spine of God” wasn’t on it. I’d like to think maybe it’s because new guitarist Garrett Sweeny (also of Riotgod), who was brought in to fill the rather sizable shoes vacated by Ed Mundell, doesn’t know it yet, but it could just as easily have been some other reason. Any way you slice it, it was a bummer. That had more or less been the one song that got me off the couch, but I guess you can’t have everything. Gotta make room for “Tractor” and “Crop Circle.” “Dinosaur Vacume” was pretty good though.
They played several songs from Mastermind, including starting the encore with single “Gods and Punks” and “Bored with Sorcery,” but the high point of the new material was unquestionably “Dig that Hole,” even if Dave Wyndorf‘s quoting of the n-word does rest gratingly on my liberal sensibilities. Wyndorf basically had the show resting on his shoulders and he delivered a solid set, Sweeny and Phil Caivano working well together on guitar, Jim Baglino and Bob Pantella doing the same on bass and drums. Everything was tight, everyone played well, but it was pretty clearly a show, and by that I mean if you were looking for a raw outpouring of emotion or some kind of beastly psychedelic trip, you were probably elsewhere.
I will say this, however: It’s time for Dave Wyndorf to grow a beard. And not a little one. A big, honking beard. And he needs to let it go gray. And he needs to never be seen again in public without a Hawkwind t-shirt and some gnarly jeans on, and he needs to cut his hair just short enough so it can still be messy, and it’s time for him to put on some huge-ass mirror sunglasses and take the stage like the Rick Rubin-looking biker space rock god we all know he is underneath. He might even need a bandanna. I’m completely serious.
He’s obviously not doing the “check me out, I’m on pills” thing anymore, right? But the stage show hasn’t really changed, it’s just become less believable. Time to adapt. Time to unleash the weirdo within. He could hit the jam band circuit and have these fucking hipsters eating out of his hands in no time flat and and start bringing a crowd again in the US, but it’s a change that needs to be made. Every time he threw his hands in the air singing, I couldn’t help think to myself, “Dude, it is time to get strange on these motherfuckers.” Also, “Play ‘Spine of God!’”
I was splitsville before they closed with “Powertrip” — some of us do, in fact, have to work another day in our lives — and I caught an easy Sunday night back north on 287 to get to the valley around 1:00. Easily worth the trip, but not necessarily ideal. You know how it goes. At least I wasn’t asleep at the wheel like after the Pentagram show in Brooklyn.
I took some extra photos, which you can see after the jump.
If all you know of my beloved Garden State is the smell of the Turnpike, Bruce Springsteen, guido stereotyping and the airport, you’re missing out. From the very beginning of stoner rock, New Jersey was right there making landmark contributions to the genre, and as the most crowded, most densely-populated state in the union, there’s always been a special brand of annoyed attitude that comes out of New Jerseyan bands that you can’t get anywhere else. It’s like the music is calling you out on your bullshit.
Of course I’m talking about the Red Bank scene, which is unquestionably the state’s biggest contribution to the canon of underground rock, but even that’s not the end to New Jersey‘s influence. As a lifelong resident and vehement defender of the state in the face of embarrassing reality shows and the rest of it, I humbly offer this list of NJ bands for anyone looking for a place to start in discovering the scene:
Monster Magnet: They’re quintessential stoner rock. Spine of God from 1992 is one of the most pivotal albums from the genre and if I didn’t mention them and it first, this entire list would be a sham. Tracks like “Zodiac Lung,” “Nod Scene” and “Spine of God” are absolute classics and unparalleled by either psych- or riff-obsessives.
Halfway to Gone: Their sound had no shortage of Southern influence, but the crunch they brought to it couldn’t have come from anywhere but the Northeast. 2002′s Second Season stripped down the songwriting from the first album and showed a meaner side.
The Atomic Bitchwax: Their 1999 self-titled gets a lot of play because it boasted Ed Mundell from Monster Magnet on guitar, but to me, the band really came into their own when Core‘s Finn Ryan replaced Mundell on 2005′s 3. Start with that, or if you’re craving Mundell, its predecessor from 2000, II.
Solace: I know I’ve said a lot about Solace lately, but that proves all the more why they need to be on this list too. Their first two albums, Further (2000) and 13 (2003) are killer, but 2010′s A.D. blows them out of the water. Best thing to come out of Jersey in a long time.
Evoken: Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum from all this guitar rock, Lyndhurst‘s Evoken make some of most grueling, most punishing funeral doom ever. Their earlier work had rough production, so I’d say start with 2007′s A Caress of the Void and work your way back. Slowly, of course.
For further reading: Various side-projects and offshoots of the above. Bands like A Thousand Knives of Fire, Core, Gallery of Mites, and so on. Also worth digging into are Lord Sterling (now defunct), abrasive duo Rukut, the righteous heaviness of Clamfight, A Day of Pigs, The Ominous Order of Filthy Mongrels, and many more.
If I forgot anyone or anyone wants to really go to bat for that first Bitchwax, leave a comment.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 4th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
Well, it’s surprising, but it’s not really a surprise. Ed Mundell‘s been involved in a number of outside creative endeavors separate from Monster Magnet the last couple years, and now that he’s left the long-running Jersey band, he’ll be able to pursue whatever he wants to full-time. I can’t really hold it against him. Blabbermouth broke the story yesterday, but I figured I’d post it here too in case anyone didn’t see it there or the hundred thousand other places it popped up:
After 18 years, guitarist Ed Mundell has left Monster Magnet for “personal reasons.” The band’s mainman, Dave Wyndorf, states, “What can I say? [Ed] told me this two months ago and I gave him some time for him to perhaps reconsider but no go. It’s a bummer, yeah but we’ve been through this kind of thing before. Make no mistake, Magnet goes on. We start the ‘Mastermind’ tour tonight [Wednesday, Nov. 3] in Cologne, Germany with Phil Caivano and Garrett Sweeny [Riotgod] handling dual guitar chores.” He adds, “I’d like to thank Ed for the immense talent he’s brought to the band over the years and wish him good luck in whatever he decides to do next. Good luck, Ed, we’ll miss you!”
About guitarist Garrett Sweeny, Wyndorf states, “[He's] a maniac! He learned a fuckload of Monster Magnet songs in less than two months and is shredding the shit out of ‘em! See for yourself.”
Mastermind , the long-awaited new album from Monster Magnet, sold around 3,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release to debut at position No. 165 on The Billboard 200 chart. The band’s previous effort, 4-Way Diablo, opened with 1,800 units back in November 2007.
Posted in Features on October 21st, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
In transcribing the interview you’re (hopefully) about to read, I tried very hard to capture the rhythm and exuberance in Monster Magnet frontman Dave Wyndorf‘s speaking voice. To quote South Park, “It’s a Jersey thing.” Oftentimes, the venerable vocalist would begin a thought, pause, and pursue it from a different direction. I did my best to keep some of that and still make it read naturally. It’s always a balance with these things.
Monster Magnet‘s Mastermind, their first album for Napalm Records and eighth overall, will see release next week in the US and Europe. It’s an album I have mixed feelings about (review here), but there’s absolutely no getting around the fact that heavy rock would not be what it is today without the stalwart New Jersey act, and more specifically, without Wyndorf as its driving force. Over the course of their 20-year career, Monster Magnet has influenced bands who don’t even know they’ve been influenced by them. Their broad reach has taken them around the world, and their workmanlike approach to making albums and touring has secured a lifelong fanbase that’s always eager to see what they’re going to do next.
That, specifically, was something I wanted to ask Wyndorf about, and as you’ll — again, hopefully — see, he was forthcoming with his thoughts. Below, he discusses working with the current incarnation of the band — guitarists Ed Mundell and Phil Caivano, bassist Jim Baglino and drummer Bob Pantella — writing Mastermind and recording it with Matt Hyde, the differences in the American and European rock scenes, the fine line between what Monster Magnet does and heavy metal, and lots, lots more. The interview was over 40 minutes long and the transcription turned out to be well over 5,800 words. The dude’s a talker and there was a lot of ground to cover. If you have to take it in pieces, I understand. It’ll still be here later when you come back.
Please find the complete Q&A after the jump, and enjoy.
…Not claiming to be the first to do so, mind you. Yeah, I’m about a week behind on this, but screw it, here’s “Gods and Punks” from the recently-reviewedMonster Magnet album, Mastermind. Let the debate begin:
Posted in Reviews on September 28th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
Following two albums on SPV, New Jersey stalwarts Monster Magnet have made a new home for themselves on Napalm Records for the release of their new album, Mastermind. It’s the band’s eighth album overall (they’ve been on a regimented every-three-years schedule since 1995’s Dopes to Infinity), and if you’ve followed the course frontman/guitarist/singer Dave Wyndorf has taken in his songwriting over the last decade in the band on albums like 2004’s Monolithic Baby! and 2007’s 4-Way Diablo, you probably won’t find too many surprises on Mastermind in terms of style. Rather, what sticks out immediately about the new collection is how much livelier the production sounds, particularly in relation to 4-Way Diablo, which was practically flat across the board. This is still a modern, professional production in every sense (pretty sure those are drum samples), and as Matt Hyde also helmed the last album, I can only imagine it was a specific change frontman/guitarist Dave Wyndorf — common understanding is it’s his band in terms of songwriting and direction, etc. — wanted to make in terms of overall approach. It was the right choice.
Mastermind begins strong with the rumble of Jim Baglino (also of Riotgod)’s bass on what’s arguably the album’s strongest song, “Hallucination Bomb.” The song itself is slower in pace than previous Monster Magnet hits, built on a huge riff from guitarists Ed Mundell and Phil Caivano, but is an effective way to start the record nonetheless. Wyndorf’s vocals are fire and brimstone, apocalyptic and loaded with effects that give him an “on the mountain” kind of feel. Drummer Bob Pantella (also Riotgod) matches the riff well, though I do wish it was more of his playing personality and less sampled snare hits. Hazards of the times in which we live, I guess. At least there are some killer dueling guitar solos to drown my sorrows in, and the hard-hitting chorus groove alone is one of Mastermind’s high points.
That’s a double-edged sword. I understand the band wanting to put their best foot forward, and I don’t disagree with the approach, but the tradeoff is the listener is spending the rest of the album waiting for something to match up. “Hallucination Bomb” is an instant comparison touchstone. Subsequent songs “Bored with Sorcery” and “Dig that Hole” (is that the N-word I heard in there?) rock with a more driven punk rock pace and riffy/catchy choruses, respectively, Wyndorf and Company again toying with the pace as they go. Wyndorf’s vocals come on in multiple layers especially on “Dig that Hole,” which isn’t really new for Monster Magnet either, but always works because of his charisma as a vocalist. Even the ultra-Magnetic “Gods and Punks” holds up stylistically, especially in the guitar — late-era Monster Magnet specialize in a kind of pop-minded “stoner rock by any other name” — and the chorus of Wyndorfs that shows up on the chorus to let us know how much they rule the planet from high to low both sets that track apart from the three before it and provides listeners with an memorable hook. In lieu of “Hallucination Bomb,” I wouldn’t be surprised to find the band opening with “Gods and Punks” live.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 6th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
In what would have taken a lesser band at least four press releases to get through, New Jersey hometown heroes Monster Magnet have unveiled a host of updates, including info on their new album, Mastermind, which is due out in October on Napalm Records. The PR wire, almost overloaded by the sheer amount of information, has this:
New Jersey’s Monster Magnet will release its long-awaited new album Mastermind this October. In celebration of the record’s impending release, the band has re-launched its website. Focused around the late October worldwide release of Mastermind, the re-launch also serves as the world premiere of the new album’s cover artwork, designed by Invisible Creature (Wolfmother, ChrisCornell, FooFighters).
“I’m extremely proud of this new album,” says Monster Magnet frontman DaveWyndorf. “It’s been an amazing process, the songs are exactly what I wanted them to be, and I’m proud to begin presenting this new phase of the band on our new website.”
The track listing for Monster Magnet’s Mastermind is as follows:
1. Hallucination Bomb
2. Bored with Sorcery
3. Dig that Hole
4. Gods and Punks
5. The Titan Who Cried Like a Baby
7. 100 Million Miles
8. Perish in Fire
9. Time Machine
10. When the Planes Fall from the Sky
11. Ghost Story
12. All Outta Nothin’
Monster Magnet on tour: Aug. 9 Amsterdam (NL) Melkweg
Aug. 10 Saarburcken (D) Garage
Aug. 11 Avenches (CH) Rock Oz Arenes Festival
Aug. 13 Feldkirch (A) Poolbar Festival
Aug. 14 Burgenland (A) Picture On Festival
Aug. 15 Budapest (HU) Sziget Festival
Aug. 17 Prague (CZ) KD Vltavska
Aug. 18 Frankfurto.M. (D) Batschkapp
Aug. 20 Lierop (NL) Nirwana Tuinfest
Aug. 21 Ludinghausen (D) Area 4 Festival
Aug. 22 Großposna/Leipzig (D) Highfield Festival
Nov. 18 Cardiff (UK) MilleniumMusicHall
Nov. 20 Sheffield (UK) Corporation
Nov. 21 Reading (UK) Sub 89
Nov. 22 Southampton (UK) University
Nov. 23 Birmingham (UK) HMV Insititute
Nov. 25 Manchester (UK) Moho Live
Nov. 26 London (UK) Electric Ballroom
Posted in Whathaveyou on May 31st, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
Here in the States, today is Memorial Day, which is basically yet another excuse for everyone to get their jingoism going and glorify war, blow fingers off with fireworks and blah blah blah. What it means to me is the official start of grilling season. True, I hate the heat and I have in fact been grilling all winter, but now it’s the season, which means eating outside, which means grilling music. Killer.
Because I’m all about sharing, here are my seven favorite barbecue records, presented in the order in which they should be played:
1. Black Sabbath, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. What this says is, “I am here to grill. I don’t care what else happens in the universe, I am going to have a good time and that is that. Now rock with me as I cook this meat.” Perfect starter album.
2. C.O.C., Wiseblood. Like Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, it’s a fun collection of songs, but Wiseblood is a little thicker sound-wise. It’s great to sing-along to, and the groove seems to run throughout the whole album, so it’s consistent too. A definite necessity.
3. Greenleaf, Agents of Ahriman. By now you’ve had a few beers and it’s time to let loose. Greenleaf‘s Agents of Ahriman is catchy, rocking and has a freedom to its sound that seems to be made for the outdoors.
4. Queens of the Stone Age, Songs for the Deaf. I confess, I love this record regardless of the food and/or climate surrounding. I try to take it everywhere, so it comes out for grilling for sure. “Go with the Flow?” Come on, man. Can’t beat that.
5. Fu Manchu, King of the Road. The last of the real rockers on the list, it’s great to finish the meal with some righteous fuzzery, and for that, there’s nowhere to go but to Fu Manchu. If you’ve got ice cream for dessert, this’ll work with it.
6. Monster Magnet, Spine of God. You’ve rocked, you’ve stuffed yourself, you’re probably more than a little intoxicated and you feel like if you ever even see another burger, your heart will explode in your chest. Clearly you’ve yanked on the spine of god and it’s time for some penance.
7. Masters of Reality, Flak ‘n Flight. This is for your cleanup. When you’ve drunkenly insulted all your relatives or friends and they’ve left and it’s just you and the mess. You put this one on and sing along as you throw away paper plates, beer bottles and the bloody packaging that once contained the meat now blocking up your colon. It’ll help ease the pain.
I’ve also found that Enslaved‘s Ruun album is great for cleanups, so if it persists longer than Flak ‘n Flight lasts, you might want to have that on-hand for reinforcements. Or maybe you just want to sit on a plastic chair in the dark for a while. It’s good for that too.
Of course, if you’re in it for the full-day barbecue experience, you’re going to need more than seven albums, but hopefully this is a decent start. If you have any longtime favorites, leave a comment and let me know about them. You can never have too much grilling music.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 24th, 2009 by H.P. Taskmaster
There is an entire contingent in front of whom you can’t even mention the words “stoner rock” without their immediately saying back, “Monster Magnet.” And for good reason. For two decades, the Red Bank outfit have blazed a trail through all things drugged-out and Satanic (you either would or wouldn’t understand), with ups and downs for sure, but the Monster Magnet brand of rock and roll seems as strong as ever, as this pilfered news from Blabbermouth proves:
Monster Magnet has inked a new worldwide deal with Austria‘s Napalm Records. The band will enter the studio in January with producer Matt Hyde to begin recording its new album for a summer 2010 release.
Commented frontman Dave Wyndorf: “I’m really looking forward to joining the roster at Napalm Records and working with them on future endeavors.” Markus Riedler, Napalm Records managing director, added, “It is an honor to cooperate with a scene icon such as Dave Wyndorf! He’s very enthusiastic, full of energy and together we want to rock through the coming years! The new album will be killer and fans should make sure to check out the high-energy live show of the band! 2010 will be the year of Monster Magnet!”
Blabbermouth put this up as some promotional video for a pedal or something, but I’ll be honest, I could give a crap what he’s selling, I just like watching Monster Magnet guitarist Ed Mundell — who, one of these days, will put out a solo album — play guitar. Moral of the story: herehe is: