Monster Magnet’s major-label debut featured one notable lineup change, with Ed Mundell replacing John McBain on guitar. As a result, all the songs on this one were written by Dave Wyndorf, with the exception of a pair of covers—Hawkwind’s “Brainstorm” and a version of “Evil” that most closely resembled a rendition by Cactus. While the album didn’t chart at all anywhere, tunes like “Twin Earth” and “Face Down” laid the foundation for commercial successes to come.
“Cyclops Revolution” leads things off, beginning on a mellower note before a wild Wyndorf scream follows an equally expressive riff explosion from Mundell. This one rolls along at a steady pace, a decent rocker a tad too long for radio at 5:43. Classic lyric: “I’m gonna eat me a mountain/a mountain of pills.” “Twin Earth” remains a live staple to this day, and it’s not hard to hear why. A groovy, gritty, stoner-rock classic a la Fu Manchu—who were still just cutting their teeth at the time, mind you. Oh, and this one has plenty of cowbell. The title track kicks things back into a more psychedelic mindstate, a mellow, laid-back vibe that’s a little more Sky Valley Kyuss than Fu Manchu…but again, pretty much precludes both. I’ll tell ya what though, Kyuss never played as fast as the time change that kicks in just past the five-minute mark!
That said, they slow things right back down with the acoustically-begun “Cage Around the Sun.” The heavy riffs first kick in around the 1:45 mark whilst Wyndorf wails away… Evidently, this ain’t a love song. Tribal drumming begins “Elephant Bell,” which also has a bit more of a mellow bent, albeit with some spaced-out guitar effects. “Dinosaur Vacume” (that’s how they spell it) sounds pretty psychedelic from the get-go, adopting a pace that definitely brings Hawkwind to mind. In fact, you almost hafta check to ensure that this one wasn’t written by Nik Turner, too.
As for actual covers, “Evil (Is Going On)” grooves and rolls just as much as the Cactus version—with perhaps a tad of Church of Misery (themselves Cactus coverers) thrown in. Although an original, “Stadium” has a similar 70’s rock feel, while “Face Down” features Wyndorf preaching prominently over some retrofied fuzz grooves. Meanwhile, the Monster Magnet rendition of “Brainstorm” is fairly true to the original, although Wyndorf and Mundell add a few of their own individual touches—and hey, I kinda miss Lemmy’s backup vocals.
After the swirling psychedelic freakouts courtesy of the band channeling Hawkwind, “Black Balloon” ends things on a somewhat more subdued note, though it isn’t long before this one also blasts off into the stratosphere. Space nukes away!