Monster Magnet - "God Says No"
(Interscope 2001, 490749)
From Aural Innovations #17 (September 2001)
Way back in Aural Innovations #8 (October '99), Scott Heller wrote about having a discussion with Dave Wyndorf concerning the commercial direction Monster Magnet had taken with Powertrip. Apparently Dave said that in order for him to gain enough control to be able to do space rock albums with 20-minute songs, he had to produce albums with a pop sensibility, that were successful enough for the record company to give him the power to do what he wanted.
Powertrip, and its single, Space Lord, were massive worldwide sellers. The follow-up, God Says No, has an album title hearkening back to the earliest Monster Magnet days of Spine of God. But it would seem that either Wyndorf has not found the control yet he's been hoping to gain, or he just simply likes the new, slicker direction that his band has taken, because God Says No is glossier than ever, with enough pop hooks amidst the heavy metal thunder to guarantee it just as much, if not more worldwide success than Powertrip. In fact, Wyndorf and company seem to have finally dispensed altogether with their space-rock leanings and it would even be a stretch to call this stoner metal. This is sleek, power pop, perfect for MTV videos and throwaway movie soundtracks (in fact Silver Future and Heads Explode, both on God Says No, had already appeared on the soundtracks to the movies Heavy Metal 2000, and Dracula 2000, respectively).
Before you think I'm going to totally trash the album, let me say, it's still a fun listen. Wydorf's drug induced fantasies (and nightmares), steeped in sex, apocalyptic visions, and madness are more over the top than ever, if not as self-consciously weird as they used to be but remain highly entertaining (You'll swim in the sweat of a million orgies/you'll live in the fire of a sweetest Hell/and bare your soul to the rays of a mortal sun/and give your lips to the kiss of the scorpion). And yes, the songs may lack the substance of earlier Monster Magnet, but they are catchy, and easy to listen to. Wyndorf still knows how to churn out hypnotic riffs, and there are more keyboards than ever before as well (though rather than being used for texture or melody, they tend to be used more as a production tool, to fill out the sound and give it a glossier sheen), and even (gulp!) drum machines on some tracks.
In a nod to their space rocking/stoner metal days, they even do a cover of Medicine, from their first album. Unfortunately, I haven't heard the re-recorded version. The UK version of the album, which I own, omits Medicine, and instead includes a track called Down in the Jungle, not on the US version. It's a blistering rocker, which hearkens back to the old days more than anything else on the album, so I assume it serves the same purpose as the re-done Medicine. Either way, it seems that it's Wyndorf's way of saying to his old fans, "That was then, this is now. Deal with it."
You can visit the official Monster Magnet web site at: http://www.monstermagnet.net/.
Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald