Monster Magnet

Last Patrol

Written by: AP on 15/10/2013 21:08:40

One album every three years; this has been the tradition Monster Magnet have upheld since the release of their breakthrough album "Dopes to Infinity" in 1995. As such, having reinstated themselves as a force to reckon with by the agency of "Mastermind" in 2010, following a string of decent, if generally anonymous albums since the critically acclaimed "Powertrip" (1998), it was of course to be expected that the band would follow through sometime this year; and those expectations were met today with the release of "Last Patrol", which attempts to reproduce the strength of its predecessor, albeit via a grossly different avenue.

Never masters at creating aesthetically pleasing cover art, Monster Magnet have, over the course of recent albums, nonetheless taken to reflecting the character of each record through its booklet. With "Mastermind", for instance, the band's customary bull mascot fumes biker metal rage through chopper exhaust pipes, while "Dopes to Infinity" (1995) is packaged into spaced out (and incredibly ugly) film noir/David Lynch-esque casing in accordance with its bizarre, psychedelic nature. Here though, with the group's ninth studio album, Johun Sumrow has, at last, produced for Monster Magnet an art fresco inspired piece that is both visually stimulating and symbolic. It captures with uncanny precision the subdued atmosphere painted across "Last Patrol", the mind trip which it inspires, and not least the customary tongue-in-cheek musing in Dave Wyndorf's lyrics. Indeed, "Last Patrol" is, in many ways, the polar opposite of the full-throttle drive of "Mastermind": moodier, subtler and more refined, and with a greater focus on the band's psychedelic- and space-rock influences.

It should be no surprise then, that "Last Patrol" is much less forthcoming, its songs evolving with patience, and taking care to preserve an elusive atmosphere. It's one swaying between deeply melancholic (almost lonely, in fact), such as when Wyndorf opens the album crypitically, and in a blue voice, with the words "I've got a feeling that no one cares / about all that confetti I threw in the air / Nothing's important, yet everything is / There ain't no photo, I just don't exist" on the muted "I Live Behind the Clouds", leaving much and more open to interpretation; thoroughly entrancing, as conjured by the colossal three-minute psychedelic jam at the rear end of the title track; and mindboggling, as heard on the spaced out "Three Kingfishers", with its indigenous instruments and Pink Floyd prog feel. Of course, "Last Patrol" is firmly rooted in stoner rock, so the instrumental foundation is, with a few exceptions, perpetually heavy, with bass and fuzz dialled to the maximum, not to mention graced by voluptuous amounts of groove.

Still, the first four songs, completed by "Paradise", which has a nice lone ranger prowling the desert feel to it, by virtue of its predominantly acoustic approach (interspersed here and there with longing wails of overdriven lead guitar) and cowbell and hi-hat based percussion; deliver a degree of diversity seldom heard in this genre, and form a stunning precursor to a second half that, with the exception of the somewhat inconsequential traditional rock'n'roll piece "Hallelujah", has Monster Magnet firing from all cylinders with frightening consistency. Whether it be the bombast of lead single "Mindless Ones" (which, admittedly, feels a little out of place here given the otherwise stoning nature of the album), or the searing, mushroom-laced country-blues of "The Duke (of Supernature)", "Last Patrol" is an album marked first and utmost by its balance. There isn't many a moment that calls for condensation, nor many an idea gone astray from excessive ambition; though at the same time I find myself wishing Monster Magnet had dared unhinge themselves an ounce and thus create songs as instantly captivating as "Bored With Sorcery" or "Gods and Punks" (both off "Mastermind").


Download: I Live Behind the Clouds, Last Patrol, Three Kingfishers, The Duke (of Supernature), End of Time
For the fans of: Clutch, Corrosion of Conformity, Fu Manchu, Kyuss
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Release date 15.10.2013
Napalm Records

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