Monster Magnet - Spine Of God review


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Band: Monster Magnet
Album: Spine Of God
Release date: 1991

01. Pill Shovel
02. Medicine
03. Nod Scene
04. Black Mastermind
05. Zodiac Lung
06. Spine Of God
07. Snake Dance
08. Sin's A Good Man's Brother
09. Ozium
10. Ozium [demo] [re-release bonus]

Monster Magnet's Spine of God is a landmark album. In a time when Hair Metal was on the wane, Thrash was making inroads toward the masses, Death Metal was growing legs, Alternative Metal was in it's infancy, and Grunge was just beginning to get some exposure, this was a release completely out of step with the times. Signed to the German Glitterhouse label and distributed by Caroline in the States, they were one of the originators of what would come to be called Stoner Rock/Metal. Now that the historical significance has been addressed, we can talk about the actual album, since being early doesn't mean it's good, even though it is.

Spine of God isn't perfect. The sound is low-fi, the timing is off in a few places, and some of the playing is rudimentary, but I feel this is part of the charm. It was produced on a tight budget and most of the effects had to have been recorded directly to tape, instead of being added later (no Pro-Tools in 1990 and no budget for messing around). It's made like they made records in the old days.

The major pluses of the album are the feeling in the performances, the groove, the strange lyrics, and the attitude. When he's not singing about drugs, Dave is singing about sex, and not in an "oh baby" sort of way.

If I had to come up with a way of expressing the overall feeling of the album it would be this: "THC and LSD". Almost every song evokes a feeling of drug-induced euphoria. The feel is mostly laid back and chill, as old analog delays and slow, fuzzed riffs rule the soundscape. The exceptions would be "Medicine", "Black Mastermind", and "Snake Dance" which are faster and, in some cases, a bit menacing. "Zodiac Lung" is a twisted kind of love letter to an ex-lover. I imagine a copy of it being shipped in a box with a dead kitten. "Spine of God" manages to combine almost everything on the album into one, epic song. It's trippy, has a hint of menace, and ends in an elevated psychedelic bliss.

Only "Ozium" fails to really coalesce into a well written song. It is a mood piece and kind of lumbers a bit, but has many interesting effects strewn throughout it.

This is an album of a young, broke band, but they had a clear sense of identity and a theme that holds the album together along with the seeds for the epic songs that would come on future albums.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 10
Production: 8

Written by afu | 23.10.2013


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

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