Thursday, August 29, 2013

Monster Magnet - Spine of God

The first full-length release from the Dave Wyndorf (ex-Shrapnel) and the stoner boys in Monster Magnet was this cult classic for Caroline Records in 1991. Having previously issued cassettes, singles and a seminal EP for Glitterhouse Records in Germany, this album cemented their status as the premier drug-addled hard rockers of the time.

With their punk backgrounds mixing with late sixties heavy rock (Grand Funk, Blue Cheer, etc.) and lyrics mostly dedicated to getting high - "Pill Shovel", "Medicine", "Nod Scene", et al - these cats created a sound that was a rawer version of what was becoming "grunge" at the time. This was heavy as hell, but powered by a monster (so to speak) rhythm section (Joe Calandra on bass and Jon Klelman on drums) and John McBain's wild, Leigh Stevens-esque guitar work, and, as leader Wyndorf loved to say, they did their best to emulate a bad acid trip. He would sing, shriek, whisper, moan, shout and leave subliminal messages for your brain throughout while guitars would wah-wah, echo, feedback and create wild slabs of sound. Lots of dynamics used for effect, as well, with quiet, tremoloed guitars (with sound scapes in the background) suddenly exploding into massive noise. Massive bonus points for being cool enough to cover Grand Funk Railroad ("Sin's a Good Man's Brother) in 1991, as well.

No, you don't have to be stoned to appreciate MM - you just have to be able to appreciate noisy, heavy, hard rock melding with punk and plenty of trippy imagery. I was never much of a druggy, but love this stuff! I dig their later, slicker sound, as well, but this is dirty, back-alley, drug'n'roll.