The chances are that if you’ve heard of Monster Magnet, then you’ll be a big fan of their uncompromising stoner rock. Their ninth studio album Last Patrol is another slab of psychedelic no-frills rock n’ roll that sounds like it was recorded in the 1970s. Which is exactly what they intended, the recording process utilized vintage guitars, amps and effects. Utterly commendable if the actual content of the songs doesn’t exactly give me cause for the accolade thesaurus.
There must have been a time when the genre Stoner Rock lumbered into my musical radar, probably down to a certain Queens of the Stone Age Rated R album. Curious to hear more, someone must have referred me to Monster Magnet, they don’t have any hits so how I came to have 1995’s Dopes to Infinity and 1998’s Powertrip in my collection will remain a mystery. So here they are again, after some line-up changes, though mainman Dave Wyndorf remains very much in charge.
Opener ‘I Live Behind The Clouds’ gets us underway with a pensive beginning, a hint of folksy psychedelia, a bit of a bluesy solo and then heads down into their muscular brand of solid rock. Absolutely nothing new here, but we didn’t really expect it to be honest. Title track ‘Last Patrol’ is a more urgent and riff based tune with one of those great one-note piano lines. It really is a throwback to a hazy time of long hair, motorbikes and patchouli oil. Wyndorf’s vocals are so grizzly and rasped, a perfect accompaniment to the driving rock that the band pitches up. The song has a very simple melody that doesn’t vary much, the song gradually getting more furious over its duration.
Placing a cover version at track three is an odd thing to do, especially this eastern sounding Donovan number ‘Three King Fishers’, complete with sitar sounds and hoary riffs that have been blasted out of creaking amps hundreds of times over the years. ‘Paradise’ is a cosmic throwback to the 70s (man), a long build up of verses to the inevitable crashing drums and cymbals…er, no actually. On this track, we stay placid, a welcome change of tempo to let us gather our thoughts. Things get epic on ‘Hallelujah’, a disjointed riff and scatty singing that might go down a storm at some Hells Angel’s gathering, but just isn’t for me. It’s a weird kind of stoner yee-ha music that is only slightly redeemed by some biker gospel at the end.
Last Patrol does have some interesting moments where the vision of revisiting classic rock of a bygone era really does shine brightly, ‘The Duke of Supernature’ is a lovely hippy groover with a woozy strings/mellotron sound, much more low key and blues orientated. The epic ‘End of Time’ is another charger of a tune with an incessant riff and spaced out noises, the chorus is suitably psychedelic and the whole thing ends in a huge heavy groove. Final track ‘Stay Tuned’ is a real comedown of song, pretty much an acoustic ‘ballad’, it’s a curious ending to what has been a mainly rocking album.
As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, if you’re a fan of Monster Magnet, then you’ll know what they’re all about, this is another capable addition to their back catalogue. These guys have provided Sons of Anarchy and the WWF with some serious soundtracking, Last Patrol definitely makes sure the royalties from such exploits will still be rolling in for a while yet.