Monster Magnet

God Says No (A&M)

"My whole life in Monster Magnet, and pretty much my whole life in rock and roll, has been a cross between the ultimate satirical stereotype and the times when that stereotype becomes a reality," Monster Magnet leader Dave Wyndorf told Westword in 1998. "And the cool thing is, when you're in a band, you're kind of in the driver's seat of the stereotype. So why not hit the gas?"

These comments perfectly sum up the appeal of God Says No, Monster Magnet's latest. Unlike those members of the Heavy Metal Army who seem afraid to crack a smile (maybe that's why those guys in Slipknot wear masks), Wyndorf and his merry crew -- guitarists Ed Mundell and Phil Caivano, bassist Joe Calandra and drummer Jon Kleiman -- understand that while the elements of traditional hard-rock style are sorta silly at this point, the music's still a lot of fun, and there's nothing wrong with having some. Witness "Melt," which simmers over low heat for nearly a minute before Wyndorf sings, "Just set that plastic soul on fire and watch it MELT!" -- a declaration that triggers a cascade of deafening riffs, bludgeoning bass, swirling psychedelic effects and screams from an abyss that's well worth visiting on a regular basis. So, too, is "Heads Explode," with its Ramones-simple lyric hook ("This is how we go about it/To make our heads explode!"), "My Little Friend," a pick-up song so bald that Big Dave even asks for a woman's sign (surprisingly, it's not 'Yield'), and "Cry," a squalling mock epic complete with spook-house organ and lines about being a "mood tornado." Everybody do the twist.

Regrettably, Wyndorf occasionally seems interested in stretching out musically -- a positive in most instances, but not in this one. For example, the title cut ("I need some love to start the show/I ask just once/But God says no") stubbornly remains at medium tempo in what appears to be a futile bid for radio airplay, and "Take It" ("Stay in the closet and be real still/Daddy's gonna feed you another pill") uses as its main instrumentation a synthesized rhythm track and Wyndorf's whistling, which definitely won't get any fists pumping. Clearly, Wyndorf is better off when he's taking his own advice. Why putt along a residential street at 30 mph when you can roar down the highway at 120?

 
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