Album Review: Monster Magnet, A Better Dystopia

Posted in Reviews on May 31st, 2021 by JJ Koczan

monster magnet a better dystopia

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Before we get any further, the tracklisting:

1. The Diamond Mine (Dave Diamond)
2. Born to Go (Hawkwind)
3. Epitaph for a Head (JD Blackfoot)
4. Solid Gold Hell (The Scientists)
5. Be Forewarned (Macabre)
6. Mr. Destroyer (Poobah)
7. When the Wolf Sits (Jerusalem)
8. Death (The Pretty Things)
9. Situation (Josefus)
10. It’s Trash (The Cave Men)
11. Motorcycle (Straight to Hell) (Table Scraps)
12. Learning to Die (Dust)
13. Welcome to the Void – Bonus Track (Morgen)

Those who’ve done their own explorations of the 1968-’74 underground will know names like  Recycled Writing Papers from just .50 per page. 24/7 online proofreaders and native English editors with full money-back guarantee. Dust PoobahThe Pretty ThingsMacabreJ.D. Blackfoot maybe even Jerusalem and Josefus thanks to reissues. Of course Hawkwind, from whose melted skulls space rock burst, were no less an influence on Monster Magnet‘s early freakouts than Black Sabbath. But Table Sraps, the spoken piece written by Dave Diamond and the Higher Elevation that leads off, and the near-punk of The Cave Men‘s “It’s Trash” — the original is an echoing, teenaged testosterone gnashing of teeth released as a 45RPM in 1966 — plunge deeper into record-collector obscurity, and that’s part of the point. Inevitable as it might be, and as much as it’s a fan-piece for sure and a plague-era holdover until Wyndorf and company can tour again and all that other stuff, it’s also a crash course in what’s made Monster Magnet who they are.

As they would, tracks range in style, tempo and structure, but the intent at the outset is to build momentum. “The Diamond Mine” sets an almost manic tone in Wyndorf‘s delivery, and “Born to Go” from Hawkwind‘s 1971 classic In Search of Space follows suit in its unmitigated thrust, which J.D. Blackfoot‘s “Epitaph for a Head” meets with two minutes of shred-forward jabbing that Wyndorf uses as a backdrop for a horror show in gleefully odd fashion. The current lineup of the band is Wyndorf, guitarists Phil Caivano and Garrett Sweeny (the latter also now in The Atomic Bitchwax), bassist Alec Morton (Raging Slab) and drummer Bob Pantella (also of Bitchwax and Raging Slab fame), but who’s playing what on a given song on an album is a crapshoot at the best of times, never mind in the middle of a pandemic lockdown, which is when A Better Dystopia would’ve come together. Still, the turn toward straight-ahead riffer fare in The Scientists‘ “Solid Gold Hell” provides a sense of repetition that serves to fluidly lead into Macabre/later-Pentagram‘s “Be Forewarned” and Poobah‘s “Mr. Destroyer,” both high points of the outing in terms of hooks and the latter settling into a righteous jam along the way. Behold Monster Magnet, digging in. Right on.

monster magnet (Gonzales Photo/Per-Otto Oppi/Alamy Live News)

So is it time to get weird? Yeah, probably. “When the Wolf Sits” rules like the lost-classic it is, and is handled with care as one would hope, and as the band plunge into side B with C still to come — the 2LP edition of A Better Dystopia has an etching on side D — it’s with the sitar-esque sounds of The Pretty Things‘ “Death” from 1968’s bizarro-prog concept opus S.F. Sorrow that the band most reinforce their ability to range where they will. The trilogy that follows in “Situation,” “It’s Trash” and “Motorcycle (Straight to Hell)” is fast — three songs in under eight minutes — but brings three likewise differing vibes, with the scorched lead guitar clarion that culminates “Situation” leading to the push and swagger of “It’s Trash” and “Motorcycle (Straight to Hell)” a dive into willful simplicity made more complex through call and response echoes and some later-in-the-party lysergic malevolence.

A more fitting lead-in for Dust‘s “Learning to Die” would be difficult to find. Performance-wise, the pre-bonus-track closer of A Better Dystopia is an easy favorite, with Wyndorf nailing the emotional urgency of the original while of course doing so as the song is brought into Monster Magnet‘s sonic context. A maddening tension of rhythm ensues. “Learning to Die” is the longest inclusion at 6:28 and the inarguable apex, but with Morgen‘s “Welcome to the Void” behind it, there’s one last bit of psycho-delic, Echoplex’ed chicanery to be had, and that’s just fine. Think of it as a victory lap more than a song that just didn’t fit anywhere else on the album. It’s more fun that way.

And fun is a not-insignificant portion of the motivation here, it seems. There’s an edge of educate-the-people too, make no mistake, but if Monster Magnet found certainty in uncertain times by regressing in their listening habits to early inspirations — pops and hisses of worn vinyl as security blanket — they’d hardly be the only ones. If the last decade of the band’s career has proved anything, it’s that their reach goes wherever they want it to go. Their most recent LP, Mindfucker (review here), arrived early in 2018 with a turn away from some of the spacier aspects that typified the two prior redux outings, 2014’s Milking the Stars (review here; discussed here), which reworked and freaked-up 2013’s Last Patrol (review here), and 2015’s Cobras and Fire: The Mastermind Redux (review here), which had a similar if more arduous task in doing the same for 2010’s Mastermind (review here). But even for its less-psychedelic pulse, it remained petulant, energetic, archetypal. With A Better Dystopia, the view of where that defining attitude came from is made that much clearer.

Monster Magnet, “Learning to Die” (Dust cover) lyric video

Monster Magnet, “Motorcycle (Straight to Hell)” (Table Scraps cover) lyric video

Monster Magnet, “Mr. Destroyer” (Poobah cover) lyric video

Monster Magnet website

Monster Magnet on Thee Facebooks

Monster Magnet on Twitter

Monster Magnet on Instagram

Monster Magnet at Napalm Records

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Monster Magnet Post “Learning to Die” Lyric Video

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 22nd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

monster magnet learning to die

Monster Magnet will unveil their covers collection, A Better Dystopia, on May 21 through Napalm Records, and following on from posting their take on Poobah‘s “Mr. Destroyer” with the initial announcement of the record last month, Dave Wyndorf and company have a new lyric video up for the band’s version of the heavy ’70s mixtape staple “Learning to Die,” by Dust. Trivia-types might recall that Dust featured drummer Marc Bell, who grew up to be Marky Ramone, but the group’s two records, 1971’s Dust (discussed here) and 1972’s Hard Attack — which were issued together by Sony in 2013 (feature here) — are stone cold genre classics and should be treated as nothing less. As manic as “Learning to Die” is — and no less so in Monster Magnet‘s hands, certainly — there’s significant weight to it as well in theme and style.

I don’t think there’s time between now and the release, but honestly, if Monster Magnet or the team at Napalm wanted to just keep going and do a lyric video for every song on A Better Dystopia in the madcap look and iconography wash that is the album’s cover art, I wouldn’t argue. Put it all out later as a visual album livestream or something. Or, you know, not. This is why I’m not in marketing.

Anyway, killer song. Gonna go put on Hard Attack and groove out.

Enjoy the clip

Monster Magnet, “Learning to Die” (Dust cover) lyric video

Stoner Rock Shamans Monster Magnet Offer Their Take on Dust’s “Learning To Die”!

Pre-Order “A Better Dystopia” here: https://smarturl.it/ABetterDystopia?

Of the song selection, frontman Dave Wyndorf says: “‘Learning To Die’ blew me away when I was 15 and it still blows me away. Man, do I LOVE to sing this song. Dust was one of the greats.”

Napalm Records is pleased to present the next chapter in psychedelic rock icons MONSTER MAGNET’s rabbit hole deep dive, A Better Dystopia (out May 21, 2021): a delightfully (and psychotically) curated collection of 60’s and 70’s proto-metal and late-era psych obscurities covered by the heavy New Jersey legends themselves.

While the album marks a new frontier for MONSTER MAGNET as their first covers record, this is not your typical set of standards released to pass time. A Better Dystopia sees the band pay homage to some of their favorite songs of all time, while reflecting on the paranoia, dystopia and revolution of both now – and then.

MONSTER MAGNET is:
Dave Wyndorf – Vocals, Guitar
Phil Caivano – Guitar
Garret Sweeny – Guitar
Alec Morton – Bass
Bob Pantella – Drums

Monster Magnet, “Mr. Destroyer” (Poobah cover) lyric video

Monster Magnet website

Monster Magnet on Thee Facebooks

Monster Magnet on Twitter

Monster Magnet on Instagram

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Monster Magnet Announce A Better Dystopia Covers LP out May 21

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 23rd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

This announcement has been a while in the making and if you happen to follow Poobah on Facebook you already knew some of the info. Confirmation, however, is certainly welcome. And so it is that Napalm Records brings official word of A Better Dystopia, a new covers record from Monster Magnet.

You’ll note in the below info that joining founder/weirdo legend Dave Wyndorf in the group are regulars Phil Caivano and Garrett Sweeney on guitar as well as longtime drummer Bob Pantella and new bassist Alec Morton. The latter is a veteran of Raging Slab (so is Pantella) and takes the spot previously held by Chris Kosnik of The Atomic Bitchwax (which, again, features Pantella). The lesson? Bob Pantella knows a few good bassists.

Also I guess the lesson is Wyndorf knows his classic heavy, as picks from JerusalemPoobahMacabre (what’s the matter, no Stonebunny?), the recently-active Josefus and the inevitable Hawkwind demonstrate. But if you needed to learn that, all you’d really have to do is listen to the band at any point ever to find out.

You can hear Monster Magnet‘s take on Poobahs “Mr. Destroyer” at the bottom of the post and preorders are up for A Better Dystopia through Napalm as of today. More info follows here:

monster magnet a better dystopia

Psych Rock Icons MONSTER MAGNET to Release Delightfully Psychotic Covers Album A Better Dystopia

Out May 21, 2021 via Napalm Records

Pre-Order HERE: https://www.napalmrecordsamerica.com/monstermagnet

When psychedelic rock icons MONSTER MAGNET got off the plane in the USA after their Powertrip tour of Europe in February 2020, they already realized that they’d dodged a bullet. The band members were all healthy, despite having spent the last week of the month-long excursion gigging overseas, and at that point, many of those countries were in total lockdown. Part two of that tour, North America, was scheduled to begin three weeks later, but the rest is history… no live music, anywhere. So, what’s a band that’s been touring regularly for 30 years to do with this newfound downtime?

Frontman Dave Wyndorf tells the inspired tale below, but without further ado – Napalm Records is pleased to present the next chapter of MONSTER MAGNET’s rabbit hole deep dive, A Better Dystopia (out May 21, 2021): a delightfully (and psychotically) curated collection of 60’s and 70’s proto-metal and late-era psych obscurities covered by the heavy New Jersey legends themselves.

While the album marks a new frontier for MONSTER MAGNET as their first covers record, this is not your typical set of standards released to pass time. A Better Dystopia sees the band pay homage to some of their favorite songs of all time, while reflecting on the paranoia, dystopia and revolution of both now – and then.

Fans can experience a first taste of A Better Dystopia via the swaggering riffs and swirling vocals on album’s first single, “Mr. Destroyer” (originally by Poo-Bah), today via a new video.

Dave Wyndorf says about the birth of A Better Dystopia:
“We all agreed that we would be bored out of our minds within a month of lockdown. MONSTER MAGNET loves the road. It’s a lifestyle. So, I considered our options. Rather than panhandle on the internet, hawking masks and Zoom-rocking practice sessions for dollars, I suggested we record a “bunker record”. A total DIY affair (band only) recorded and mixed in Bob Pantella’s small but potent Freak Shop Studios/rehearsal space right here in New Jersey. But what to record?

I didn’t feel much like writing, but working on anything was better than watching the news as hospitals filled up, people died, and American politics went bat-shit crazy. The world roared “Dystopia! Apocalypse! Revolution!”. I’d heard those words before, and they brought to mind my childhood in the late 60’s/early 70’s… and the music… and short playlist of songs (just one of many) that I’d been carrying around with me on my whatever device to listen to before shows. Of course, these tunes have also been in my head for more or less my whole life. These were not the popular hits of the time. This was like a playlist from the 4th dimension… strange bits of musical obscurity, mostly dredged up from that inglorious and freaky “twilight zone” time that preceded Arena Rock, Heavy Metal, Reggae and Disco. A no-man’s land of hard rock that still had remnants of psychedelia and garage punk but had abandoned any notion of “flower power” or frat house fun. And of course, they rocked.

Yeah, these songs were it.”

Wyndorf is at the top of his game on A Better Dystopia, delivering each lyric in his own inimitable style, and musicians Phil Caivano, Bob Pantella, Garrett Sweeney and Alec Morton own the sound – vintage and old school, dense and heavy, with searing fuzz leads and pounding bass and drums all played in a deft style that’s almost been lost in modern music. The album opens with “The Diamond Mine”, as Dave Wyndorf recites a classic monologue by Dave Diamond, an American radio DJ whose programs in the late 60’s and early 70’s helped popularize many psychedelic and acid rock bands. At this point the real trip begins, as the opening chords of the Hawkwind classic “Born To Go” gear up for launch. Tracks like standout “Mr. Destroyer” (Poo-Bah) spur visions of some untold Freak revolution – or perhaps dinosaurs battling on a burning planet at the end of time – creating a perfect blend of hard rock and psychedelia. Feverish “Motorcycle (Straight To Hell)” (Table Scraps) is pure punk fury of the old school tradition, evoking a cross between Iggy Pop and Motörhead as Wyndorf wails “I’m gonna drive it straight to HELL!” Falling even further down the mind-bending rabbit hole, Magnet offers their stunning, whirlwind take on the often-overlooked hard rock classic “Learning To Die” (Dust) and a masterful version the Stooges meets Goth epic, “Solid Gold Hell” (The Scientists). The album closes with a bonus nuclear cover of Morgen’s “Welcome To The Void”, inviting you to restart the ride again and again.

Wyndorf concludes:
“The great bands whose music we lovingly interpret here were (and some still are) on the fringe, underrated, and in our opinion, really, really cool. I think that’s reason enough for us to do this album. Furthermore, A Better Dystopia is a collection of songs that I think reflect (knowingly or unknowingly) a paranoid time in history, but also deflect that same paranoia by owning it, fully. And of course, it ROCKS.”

Pre-Order A Better Dystopia HERE: https://www.napalmrecordsamerica.com/monstermagnet

A Better Dystopia tracklisting:
1. The Diamond Mine (Dave Diamond)
2. Born to Go (Hawkwind)
3. Epitaph for a Head (JD Blackfoot)
4. Solid Gold Hell (The Scientists)
5. Be Forewarned (Macabre)
6. Mr. Destroyer (Poobah)
7. When the Wolf Sits (Jerusalem)
8. Death (The Pretty Things)
9. Situation (Josefus)
10. It’s Trash (The Cave Men)
11. Motorcycle (Straight to Hell) (Table Scraps)
12. Learning to Die (Dust)
13. Welcome to the Void – Bonus Track (Morgen)

A Better Dystopia will be available in North America in the following formats:
– 4 page CD Digipack
– 4 page CD Digipack + Patch (Napalm mailorder only)
– 2LP Gatefold Black
– 2LP Gatefold Pink Transparent (Napalm mailorder only – limited to 300)
– 2LP Gatefold Glow In The Dark (Napalm mailorder only – limited to 200)
– Limited Die Hard Edition: 2LP Gatefold Neon Green/Black Splatter + Slipmat (Napalm mailorder only – limited to 200)
– Digital Album

MONSTER MAGNET is:
Dave Wyndorf – Vocals, Guitar
Phil Caivano – Guitar
Garret Sweeny – Guitar
Alec Morton – Bass
Bob Pantella – Drums

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https://www.instagram.com/monstermagnetofficial/
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Monster Magnet, “Mr. Destroyer” official video

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