For more years than I care to remember I have lived with a demon on my shoulder. He regales me with tales of the ruined and the damned and exhorts me to follow him to Hell in an orgy of over-indulgence, Marvel Comics and very loud guitars. That demon is Dave Wyndorf backed by his merry pranksters Monster Magnet. Stoner metal’s clown prince, Wyndorf specialises in a heady mix of gonzoid mysticism and hairy carnality atop over-driven garage and space rock.
The quality has varied over the years but the thrusters are always fully on and you know you’re headed for a bad good time whenever you slip one of the band’s albums on. So I wasn’t ready for this… “I got a feeling that no one cares about all that confetti I threw in the air.” These are the first words uttered on the remarkable “Last Patrol” album. It’s from the haunting ‘I Live Behind The Clouds’, a simple sorrowful lament of disconnect with the world and it is more classically poetic and mournful than anything else in their cannon. Words like ‘haunting’ and ‘poetic’ are not adjectives often employed when describing New Jersey’s Space Lord Motherfuckers, and so we can see already that this is a very different monster.
From there we go into the furious title track: “I’m checking out, this is my last crusade… “ and it’s clear Dave is trying to tell us something about the future of Monster Magnet. He does also let us know he has a 10 foot blonde waiting to comfort him though, and this is not the only moment where fans can find traces of the band’s trademark lascivious sleaze.
Sandwiched between the heavy duty soul-bearing and sad-eyed reminiscing we have several classic light hearted but rocking romps. There is a muscular cover of Donovan‘s ‘Three Kingfishers’, a sexed-up gospel blues stormer called ‘Hallelujah’ and the slinky ‘The Duke (of Supernature)’. The latter is the aural equivalent of a warm bath after which you are much, much dirtier as Dave invites you into his Bedouin tent, pats his knee for you to sit upon and whispers sweet Satanic seductions in your hot ear. At fist listen I balked at the return to metallic party music on ‘Hallelujah’, already sold on the band’s dark new vision, but the tune won’t be denied and I’m sure will be a total roof-raiser live.
In the main, however, Dave and the boys are feeling reflective and the former indestructible space cadet is feeling far from immortal. This has him pondering his legacy and even passing on advice. Where once Wyndorf was only interested in what was in your pants now he worries about your future. The whole lyric to final track ‘Stay Tuned’ contains so much sage advice it’s almost an outsider’s self-help manual and as po-faced as that my make it sound it is actually a moving and incredibly raw piece of musical theatre.
Let’s not forget the rock though, eh? And boy, do Monster Magnet rock on this album! The title track, the insane ‘Mindless Ones’ and the defiant space rock rager ‘End Of Time’ are three of the heaviest tracks the band have ever recorded. Each one is a contender for metal tune of the year by my reckoning and prove that this band will never go out with a whimper.
With every listen this comes closer to being my album of the year. By the time the band tour it across Europe in 2014 they will have been going for 25 years and if indeed it marks the band’s “Last Patrol” then they are going out on a high.