Monster Magnet - Mastermind
Napalm Records
Stoner Metal/Rock
12 songs (60:06)
Release year: 2010
Monster Magnet, Napalm Records
Reviewed by Khelek

After selling hundreds of thousands of albums and breaking into the mainstream with Powertrip, those who doubted the talents of Dave Wyndorf and Co. have been summarily dismissed. Its been a few years since the last Monster Magnet album, with 4-Way Diablo being the last album they released on SPV, moving to Napalm Records. Monster Magnet have continually defied those who try to place them into one specific category or style, other than their obvious love of retro-sounding hard rock. Once again you're going to hear a mixture of different things on this album, although this is definitely more of a subdued album than usual. Unfortunately it doesn't stay very interesting throughout its one hour duration.

Hallucination Bomb begins with slow electric guitar riffs and the clean voice of frontman Dave Wyndorf. Overall it's a pretty slow song that gives you an idea of what this album is about. A very relaxed atmosphere, definitely more so than on many of their earlier albums. Bored With Sorcery speeds things up with faster riffs and pounding drums. Even so, the verse is still quite subdued with the bridge and chorus having that older, more energetic feeling. Dig That Hole has a similar style, starting off slow with mellow guitar and bass that also has a feeling of tension to it. The heavier riffs come in soon after, but the music still stays relatively subdued. I enjoy the lyrics and the overall feeling of the song, but at the same time I'm finding myself wish there were some songs with more energy here that I could rock out to. The title track gets things moving again with plenty of fuzzy, groovy guitar and the excellent guttural singing of Wyndorf. The guitar work here is just how you'd expect Monster Magnet to sound, scorching yet playful, almost deep fried one could say. In my opinion this catchy, stoner rock was the band's forte, and this album does not cater to that ideal nearly as much. There is a lot of slower, ballad type stuff on this album that you may not be used to hearing from these guys. Some of it is good, some of it is a bit boring. For example, Time Machine is a slow track that uses clean electric guitar and almost spoken vocals. Not a terrible song, but for me it doesn't really create the atmosphere that I think the band was going for, mostly because it becomes too monotonous with the same repeated guitar lines. But take a song like 100 Million Miles and you hear groovy basslines along with catchy riffing. It starts off with a memorable bassline and strong drumming, the lyrics are also quite good. The chorus opens into a faster, albeit quite generic, section of solid riffs. There is still a thread of melancholy weaving through the lyrics, singing, and overall feeling of the song, but it's subtle so as not to take away the energy of the song.

After listening to this album several times I found myself hoping that these guys wouldn't be the kind of band that's a one-trick pony, but alas it seems that this attempt at a slower, more subdued version of their hard rock sound just did not work out well. Much of this album is just too slow for me when what I really want to hear from these guys is a big, heavy stoner metal album. However that's not really the problem that I see here. I'm finding the root of the issue is with a lack of originality and the sense of emotional conviction that the band's past work often conveys. Powertrip mostly displays a kind of Devil-may-care attitude and nonchalant coolness, whereas this album is often more darkly thoughtful and at times hopeless. Unfortunately much of it is not thought-provoking enough to be really good. The lyrics are often things that a juvenile Poe-worshipping writer would come up with (see Gods And Punks, The Titan Who Cried Like A Baby, Ghost Story), and the music is equally as simple. While there are at times strokes of greatness, and definitely some solid tracks, much of the album just becomes background drone. There just isn't enough energy to keep me really interested. The reason I really like albums such as Powertrip and Dopes To Infinity is because of that raw rock and roll energy that the band, and notably frontman Dave Wyndorf, infused into the music. Much of this album takes things slow and safe, only occasionally trying to do something different.

Killing Songs :
Bored With Sorcery, Dig That Hole, Mastermind, 100 Million Miles
Khelek quoted 68 / 100
Other albums by Monster Magnet that we have reviewed:
Monster Magnet - Monolithic Baby! reviewed by Danny and quoted 95 / 100
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