Go into any bar full of musos and a not uncommon debate is about the influences of certain substances on certain musicians and their albums. Is the album fast and paranoid? Cocaine. Angry as fuck? Amphetamine. Fuzzed out stoner rock? Well, you don’t need me to tell you that one! Dave Wyndorf, Monster Magnet founder, singer, and writer, has very publicly fought his drug demons, be they illegal or prescription, and come through the battle to tell his tale. So, with three whole years having passed since the excellent ‘Mastermind’ was released, and Dave’s new clean lifestyle, what does ‘Last Patrol’ have to offer?
Whilst the psychedelic stylings that have always been a part of the Monster Magnet formula are still present throughout, ‘Last Patrol’ finds Mr Wyndorf at his most mellow ever. The angst and anger of earlier albums is pretty much absent, with far more hard rock then metal, and with simple stripped back arrangements and an emphasis on acoustic work throughout. Opener ‘Live Behind The Clouds’ for the majority of the track is just Wyndorf’s vocals mixed with a single guitar; only halfway through does the rhythm section join in and the guitars build up into a wall of sound before fading down into the same mellow vocals and strumming that started the song. Title track ‘Last Patrol’ follows up with far more of the old Wyndorf swagger, mixed in with some sixties pyschedelia, the nine and a half minutes of the song being full of layer upon layer of tripping guitars over an accompanying hypnotic drum beat, the sort of sound I could imagine The Doors playing to an appreciative audience. ‘Last Patrol’ is truly the hardest hitting song of the album, yet still damn mellow.
‘Three Kingfishers’ follows, opening with a combination of tabla, electric sitar and tribal chanting before the band climbs aboard the good ship intergalactic for a voyage into space rock territory. Track after track follows this same gentle vibe, and frankly it sounds like Dave Wyndorf is now writing from a happy and contented place, the likes of ‘Hallelujah’ having a positively celebratory feeling, mixed in with a healthy dose of Cajun swing, backing on the chorus sounding like a choir dragged from a bayou gospel church. Even on ‘Mindless One’, a Monster Magnet classic in the making with its tale of alien entities and flying through the void has none of the anger and snarl that was so often a feature of Wyndorf’s vocal delivery in the past, a track that is followed in short order by the mainly acoustic ‘The Duke (of Supernature)’, a number that had a definite late Beatles feel to it.
Whilst ‘Last Patrol’ has less of the immediate impact of earlier Monster Magnet albums, it is definitely a grower. Listen after listen had me nodding along mellowly, appreciating the new feel of the band’s rejuvenated front man. Now in his fifties, he’s nothing to prove; as album closer ‘Stay Tuned’ says, “ain’t no targets to aim for man, no more mountains to climb.” This may not be an album to create a swirling pit if played live, but it is one that will be on a regular rotation on my player, and one to chill with.
(8/10 – Spenny)