A Better Dystopia

rating icon 8.5 / 10

Track listing:

01. The Diamond Mine
02. Born to Go
03. Epitaph for a Head
04. Solid Gold Hell
05. Be Forewarned
06. Mr. Destroyer
07. When the Wolf Sits
08. Death
09. Situation
10. It's Trash
11. Motorcycle (Straight To Hell)
12. Learning to Die
13. Welcome to the Void

If you're vaguely sensible and want a guaranteed good time sound-tracked by ear-smashing rock 'n' roll, rolling waves of HAWKWIND-style sonic debris and lyrics about monsters, sex and sex with monsters, Dave Wyndorf has been your man for three decades. Some may prefer the balls-out, go-for-broke cock rock of "Powertrip", others may favor the early days psych assaults of "Spine of God", and a case must surely be made for the quality of less widely celebrated (but no less kickass) recent efforts like "Last Patrol" and "Mindfucker". Whatever your preference, MONSTER MAGNET fucking rule. Occasional blips aside (even Wyndorf admits that 2007's "4-Way Diablo" was a little undercooked),New Jersey's kings of psychedelic stoner rock have always been a benchmark for scuzzy rock 'n' roll with B-movie sensibilities and a big bulge in their leather pants. As a result, the prospect of a MONSTER MAGNET covers album is infinitely more appealing than it would be for just about anyone else. Wyndorf is a self-proclaimed music nerd and has long been a passionate advocate for the magical powers of unhinged noise. On "A Better Dystopia", he simply dips into his deep well of inspirations and serves up an illuminating and proudly non-obvious selection of songs that are each perfectly suited to the MONSTER MAGNET treatment.

Even the best-known songs here are hardly jukebox staples. HAWKWIND's "Born to Go" is as perfect an encapsulation of the British space rockers' sound as you could wish for, and Wyndorf's take sticks to the script, with just a few extra layers of turbocharged urgency driving its circular riffs forward. Similarly, MONSTER MAGNET play PENTAGRAM's "Be Forewarned" with the conviction of real fans, beefing up the original to some degree but essentially presenting it anew, with Wyndorf relishing his chance to do a sick Bobby Liebling. The rest of the album is as educational as it is insanely entertaining, with resurrected and upgraded cuts from underground psych luminaries POO-BAH (the rampaging rumble of "Mr. Destroyer") and Aussie punks SCIENTISTS, dusty nuggets from unsung heroes like J.D. BLACKFOOT ("Epitaph For A Head") and even a nod to contemporary UK noise-punk crew TABLE SCRAPS, whose furious "Motorcycle (Straight To Hell)" is easily one of the best songs the STOOGES never wrote.

"A Better Dystopia" concludes with a truly life-affirming tumble through DUST's "Learning to Die", wherein MONSTER MAGNET get their snake-hipped freak on and threaten to spiral off into the sun, before the sitar-laden, serpentine swirl of "Welcome to the Void" floors the lysergic accelerator and Wyndorf pirouettes majestically away, plainly satisfied that his cultural gatekeeper duties have been fulfilled, and that MONSTER MAGNET have made a covers album that is so much fun, you may even be able to enjoy it without being stoned to the bone. Either way, it's a trip worth taking.

Author: Dom Lawson
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