Review: Monster Magnet Fail To Excite With ‘Last Patrol’
Monster Magnet has released a ninth album. It’s called Last Patrol, and it’s about as interesting as watching psychedelic paint dry. After a quarter century of releasing their psych-rock, or straight rock, or jam rock, or whatever rock you want to call it, the Monster Magnet tank is empty. Seriously, this new record is the audio equivalent of Randy Quaid’s character in Christmas Vacation, it’s coasting in on fumes.
It’s really not Monster Magnets fault, nor the fault of singer, guitarist, songwriter and figurehead Dave Wyndorf. I can’t think of many bands that managed to release nine great albums. Combining both the Ozzy and Dio years, Black Sabbath barely squeezed out ten great records, so what chance does Monster Magnet have? Last Patrol is a Monster Magnet record, it does what they do, and it does nothing exceptional at all. At no point does the band step out of their comfort zone. Instead, they give what people expect from them, and after nine albums there’s little left to say.
Last Patrol supposedly digs back into Monster Magnet’s roots, which I’ll give it. Over the last few years, Wyndorf and crew have switched out the swirling psych-rock of their brilliant debut Spine Of God, with more and more nods to straight rockers. The more power, and less psych Monster Magnet went, the less personality their records had. Even MM’s most successful record, Powertrip, was nothing more than the same recipe given a radio friendly gloss. With Last Patrol, Monster Magnet attempt to recapture the personality that burned so bright during their first few years. How well they succeed depends on how much of a fan you are.
Wyndorf opens Last Patrol with the line, “I get the feeling that no one cares”. Perhaps he sees the writing on the wall. The lyric comes from “I Live Behind The Clouds”, a tune that opens on one repeating riff, until the psychedelic waves start crashing in. From there we get more variation of the same formula. “Last Patrol” is another big riff with crashing drums, “Three Kingfishers” attempts to shake things up with a Sitar. The Sitar barely has time to become interesting, before another saturated riff breaks it up.
For what they do, Last Patrol is a fine example of Monster Magnet’s identity. The production is fairly similar to what’s come before, maybe gunning for a bit more of a DIY sound. Wyndorf croons in the same voice, using mostly the same style of phrasing he has for twenty-five years. The rest of the instruments are secondary, they play the back while vocals and guitar compete for top-dog position. It’s a common joust in Monster Magnet albums. As Last Patrol grinds to an end, there is little motivation to hear the album again. Nothing here is particularly awful it just, as I said, coasts in on fumes.
I’m not going to fail Last Patrol. It is what Monster Magnet is, it just isn’t that interesting. Perhaps I don’t own enough leather cowboy hats, or motorcycle jackets, to latch onto Last Patrol, or maybe the idea of replaying seventies rock excess has gotten boring to me after living through the stoner rock trend. It could also be that to truly embrace Monster Magnet, you have to buy into their entire shtick, which I have no interest in. Loyalty to a band is an admirable thing, but even the die-hard faithful have to admit that Last Patrol is nothing to get excited about.