Monster Magnet

Released 1991 on Caroline
Reviewed by kwd, 04/03/2004ce

New Jersey hedonists Monster Magnet first tripped into the collective unconscious back in the early 1990s with their spacey, drug-inspired hard rock. Led by Dave Wyndorf – a self-confessed acid freak and pharmaceutical hoover in his earlier days – the band were seen as high lords of an emerging stoner scene but, like many others who get lumped with the same tag, it doesn’t do the music justice. Monster Magnet are, to put it simply, a big-bollocked rock band with a taste for addictive melodies, energetic burn-outs and psychedelic meltdowns, the kind of band who deliver a feelgood fix any time of the day.

The past 10 years have seen the band gradually beef-and-polish their Stooges/Hawkwind hybrid into a more accessible, classic rock mould, but Tab is the exact opposite. Finely crafted, verse-chorus-verse nuggets? No chance. Sprawling jams and kaleidoscopic soundscapes? Step right in. Recorded at the same time as their monumental Spine Of God album, Tab boasts the same underproduction and style of its sister record, but goes for the throat of indulgence by glorifying Spine’s outer limits. Nowhere is this more blatant than with the opening track 25, a sparse chord sequence that repeats without deviation – barring the occasional key change - for 32 minutes as the spacey effects, swirling guitars and distorted vocals build an increasingly frantic freakout over the top. Coming across like Whole Lotta Love’s live theramin weirdness rooted on an ebbing, head-nodding rhythm, 25 gropes its way further into your head while pushing your brains further out.

In complete contrast to 25’s hallucinatory repetition is Longhair, a reverb-drenched rocker that speeds like TV Eye with added fuzz before collapsing into a psychedelic interlude. Emerging from the cosmic respite fully refuelled with four-star swagger, the track chops into new jamming territory where GROOVE is KING - the infectious riff is low-slung, thick and hooky, the kind of six-string wave you could surf forever… at least until the full-tilt finale hurtles into the fadeout. Class.

Closing the album is Lord 13, a concise 4-minute affair that is as close as Tab gets to a regular song. The distortion has been pretty much cleared away, the vocals can actually be heard and the whole thing is catchy as fuck, a prime example of Wyndorf’s knack for brain-burrowing melodies. With pared-back percussion, sinewy flesh and an edgy, I-Wanna-Be-Your-Dog urgency about the stabbing rhythm, Lord 13 is a comparative pop gem.

So there you have it - a hypnotic space-rock mantra, a glorious mash of Stooges-inspired riffage and a not-quite-chilled out chillout. From headtrip to headbang, Tab is perhaps best described by the CD liner notes themselves:

“It is what it is.
Recorded on High Street Earth, 1991”

Get a ticket and enjoy the ride, space monkeys.

Reviews Index