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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Monster Magnet

4-Way Diablo

Review by Gary Hill

I have to admit to never having heard a full Monster Magnet disc before. I actually saw them live once and have heard various tracks on the radio and on their website and such, but this is the first full disc from them I’ve had the chance to check out. I also have to say that as such it presents a bit of a surprise to me. These guys (at least on this disc) are less hard rocking and spacey than what I expected. What you get is some killer retro textured jamming that should please the group’s hardcore fans and anyone who likes old school heavier rock and roll.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
4-Way Diablo
Coming in with a killer hard rock groove, this has a vintage 1970’s bluesy rock sound. The swirling guitar sound is just plain awesome. This is a great opener. The slower segment on this reminds me a bit of AC/DC.
Wall of Fire
Here we get a distorted slab of punky rock and roll. While I like this tune, it’s not up to the level of the opener. That said, it has some cool riffs at points. There is also a really cool Cramps-like section that feels quite doomy.
You're Alive
This one’s got a stripped down rock and roll approach that reminds me a bit of Southern Culture on the Skids. It’s a tasty little stomper that’s quite cool – and one of the highlights of the disc.
Blow Your Mind
This starts off in a stripped down sort of groove and they work it up in that sort of garagey roots texture. They crunch out after the verse into a more metallic rendition of the song’s central musical theme. This is a scorcher and another highlight of the disc – in fact, it might be my favorite. Some of the guitar fills are simply classic.
Cyclone
Here they pound in, feeling a bit like Volume IV era Black Sabbath. This has a great vocal delivery with an echoey effect, bringing it in as another highlight of the CD. It’s another that is a competitor for my favorite number on show here. This also includes some of the tastiest guitar work of the CD.
2000 Light Years From Home
Here they cover the Rolling Stones at their psychedelic best. They start this off with suitable backwards tracked sounds and gradually bring it up, just like the Stones version. This feels a bit harder edged than the original, and it’s a nice touch. While I’d have to say that I probably prefer the original, this is a great rendition nonetheless. I do like the way this modulates out into a Hawkwind-like space jam later.
No Vacation
This rather metallic jam is one of the harder rocking pieces on show here. It’s quite catchy, too, but has a bit of a dark metal feel to the vocal delivery. While this is a good track it’s not one of my favorites.
I’m Calling You
“I’m Calling You” has a dark and ominous texture to it. They drop it back quickly to a stripped down approach for the song proper. This is a little raw and punky. As they add layers of sound to this later it takes on some incredible textures, feeling even a little prog rock like in some ways. Although it’s a bit slow getting going, this is definitely a standout.
Solid Gold
This is a more stripped down rocker that’s got a bit of that southern edge to it at times. It’s another solid one, but definitely not one of the highlights.
Freeze and Pixelate
Here they bring it in with a tentative, gradually building approach that is dramatic and mysterious in a great modern space rock way. When the world music rhythm enters and the track takes on new layers and elements it reminds me a bit of something from Page and Plant, but with a heavier feel to it. Psychedelia meets world sounds and space rock in this stellar instrumental track that’s another of my favorites. They turn it heavier as they carry on, but never lose sight of the magic and power of the melodic meanderings in the process.
A Thousand Stars
The hard edged rocker that is this one reminds me a bit of The Cult. It’s sort of a middle of the road track, not really standing out as either one of the best or weaker of the CD.
Slap In The Face
This is one of the more metallic cuts on the disc with a killer riff driven grind pulling it out and running through the introduction. They drop it back to a stripped down bouncy groove for the verse. This is a strong rocker and just plain fun.
Little Bag of Gloom
Now for a total change of pace, this comes in as a sedate little balladic structure. The vocals come in spoken over this backdrop. They build it up gradually, but it never really rises too far. This is a solid cut, but I’m not sure it’s the best choice as a closer.
 
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