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4.6 out of 5 stars19
4.6 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 19 November 2010
Short version: Buy it, it's a return to form and has a new introspective maturity to the lyrics.

Longer version: I admit it, Monster Magnet are my favourite band. They've soundtracked my entire adult life, and until 4 Way Diablo, had never put a foot wrong... well... Tab maybe.

But it turns out that nearly dying from a heroin overdose does in fact knock your creativity by a couple of notches, so while 4 Way Diablo was by any other band's standards great, for MM... it was weak.

This disc however is a full-blown return to form. The riffs are back, the big choruses which then turn into even bigger choruses are back, and there are now lots of interesting textural touches (like the synth washes of Titan Who Cried Like A Baby).

But the biggest change is the lyrics. Dave's lyrics have always been in a league of their own - the man may be a self-confessed (former) "drug athlete" but he's also an extremely gifted lyricist. Now that's he's off the heroin, he's kept the psychedelic comic-books and comets imagery that he's always used but he's acquired a melancholy tone that really works. The song "Time Machine" is an example, it's classic MM: it's one of his slow, beautiful little songs but the lyrics are heartrending - singing about how he was thinking that he was immortal and could do anything but now he's broken his time machine and is stuck on the edge of the world... sheesh, that's pretty direct for a guy who woke up from a thirty-five year acid trip to discover that he's in his mid fifties and the world has rolled on without him.

Similarly, the video to Gods and Punks sees a down-and-out former Super Villain struggling to be taken seriously by passers-by. Fair play to Dave, he's putting his heart on his sleeve. And that's what music is all about, really.

Please buy this album, it's wonderful.
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on 25 November 2010
For long-time Monster Magnet fans like myself, the announcement of this new album was greeted half by joy and half by anxiety. It's a horrible feeling to watch a band you've grown up with and loved for years slowly lose their touch.

This feeling was exacerbated by 4-way Diablo, which I really didn't think was to their usual standards.

However, and I say this with relief and jubilation, Monster Magnet are in no danger of losing their touch anytime soon. Mastermind is absolutely amazing. It's up there with their very best albums. In my mind is has achieved the impossible and perfectly integrated MMs two perceived styles: the stoner early days, and the power rock from the later albums.

Every song is full of beautiful creamy reverby guitar, both distorted and clean, there are some fantastic grooves and hooks. I think the vocals are better than on any other album. All of the songs work brilliantly live - I get the impression most of the songs were written with the band all jamming together. This is a bit of a departure from some of the more 'studioy' albums of recent, but it seems to have worked brilliantly.

Dave's lyrics are outstanding as always, and the whole album will overwhelm you with the pure rock goodness, warming nostalgia, and a very strong optimism that rock isn't dead - it hasn't even really got going yet.

\m/ \m/
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Mastermind is the eighth full-length studio album by the legendary New Jersey Stoner Rock band Monster Magnet. It was released in 2010 and is seen as something of a return to form by many fans as it is one of the band's genuinely best albums to date, despite having been released so chronologically far from their early work.

Stylistically speaking, Mastermind is the heaviest, hardest and doomiest Monster Magnet album to date and there is a very clear Black Sabbath influence on display on a lot of the tracks, most of which are mid-paced or even slow. There is still variety to be found however; there are two tracks of jangly chord bashing towards the album's close, two very intense atmospheric build ups and two faster songs just after the album opens up that raise the tempo in an energetic fashion before the album settles back down into its doomy groove, as well as a third halfway through that shakes you up and stops you getting complacent.

Singer and primary songwriter Dave Wyndorf has consistently been one of the genre's finest ever lyricists, to the point where it is one of the band's distinguishing features, and this album is far from a disappointment in that regard. As usual; interesting observations, black humour and some almost depressing philosophical points all mix together in well-written and mutli-faceted songs that reward repeat-listening.

When this is combined with the variety of vocal approaches from bluesy drawls and spacey pronouncements to metallic roars by way of sly and sarcastic punk deliveries and the occasional melody, it makes for a brilliant album that you can listen to a lot without getting bored, in which you can discover something new every time and which should be at least considered for a place in any fan's collection. This is not the sound of a band phoning it in, it is a band charged up and really laying into it hard.

Its not all super heavy riffs and biker metal production though; the band still incorporate some of the psychedelic sounding guitar effects and additional percussion from the early stuff and touches of electronics from the mid-period material, albeit very subtly, into the hard rock based music. In some ways Mastermind is unlike any other Monster Magnet album due to the precise ratio of its influences and approaches to songwriting and yet in other ways its kind of like the summation of their entire career since it mixes it all together.

Highlights include the Nine Inch Nails-esque `Time Machine' which has some genuinely beautiful guitar, as well as the energetic and lyrically superb `Bored With Sorcery' and the doomy `When Planes Fall Out Of The Sky,' which boasts some of the album's heaviest riffs.

Overall, Mastermind is one of the best Monster Magnet albums available, no caveat. Its certainly the one with the best reputation in a long time, and although I personally think that the band never got bad, it still gives off those feelings of reaffirmation that all the best comeback albums do.

Its just got a certain inexplicable spark both of creativity and power and I'd highly recommend that any old fans who've given up on the band check it out and see if it wins them back.

Basically though, if you like Monster Magnet at all you should probably try this out, especially if you like their heavier stuff. If you are a new fan its definitely not a bad place to start either, although maybe try it in conjunction with a `classic' as well, because they're definitely the kind of band where hearing one album wouldn't be enough to really `get' what the band are all about.
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VINE VOICEon 27 December 2010
For me, this album came out ten years too late. But then, better late than never, as they say, and this is an absolute gem of an album from everybody's favourite stoner-rock-pioneers-turned-cock-rock-uber-lords, and certainly a reward for long-term fans who feared the worst following frontman Dave Wyndorf's overdose a few years back.

At the turn of the century, Monster Magnet were poised for world domination, riding on a wave of commercial success and critical acclaim created by 1998's superb Powertrip. Then they released God Says No, which is by no means a bad album - it just wasn't the right record to enhance their burgeoning superstar status. Mastermind is the album Dave Wyndorf and co should've released back then, as it contains some of the catchiest, heaviest, ROCKING-est tracks the band has ever written. It's big, it's dumb but my, oh my, it's so much fun. "Bored for a thousand years/You gotta get me outta here/I don't wanna rape the world today!" bellows Wyndorf on second track, 'Bored of Sorcery'. It's been said many times before that it takes some sort of warped genius to create something seemingly so dumb, and herein lies Monster Magnet's appeal. After all, how else do you explain the enduring, ahem, magnetism of music made by a fifty-something year-old former acid head? On 'Gods and Punks' - one of the album's many stand-out tracks - we get a line that neatly encapsulates this appeal and tells you all you really need to know about this band in 2010: "I'm a stoned jet-fighter with a heart of gold/Well, I'm really mad and I'm really old!"

So, Monster Magnet are back to doing what they do best: kicking out the jams in ridiculously OTT style, with more than a flash of self-deprecatory humour and some comic-book wisdom about the big wide world. But Monster Magnet's records have always housed darker, introspective moments alongside all the anthems, and Mastermind is no different. Penultimate track, 'Ghost Story', is a particularly fine example of this - an honest, heartfelt lament, which sees Wyndorf lambasting himself for "put[ting] you in the darkness and shut[ting] that door."

There can be little doubt that Wyndorf's post-overdose experiences and the lessons he learned in the period since has informed much of the material here. Whether or not it could've been written without these experiences, ten years earlier, is something we'll never know. It's just good to have the New Jersey boys back, and in such fine form. Roll on the next record!

Matt Pucci
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on 28 December 2013
In a music world struggling to re-deliver the goodies of the 70's this album bucks the trend BIG TIME! Absolute monster plate full of undiluted treats. Every single track pulls it off. Excellence I've rarely witnessed these recent times. Looks like I'll be grabbing a lot more Monster Magnet stuff.
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on 13 November 2010
Have to agree with previous reviews (although not sure where the grunge comparison comes from).Not taken it out of the car since its release and each track sounds stronger after each listening.Wyndorf's demons are all here even without the prescription dependance and Dig That Hole sums up his last few years superbly..just a brilliant return to form and even if they never better Spine of God this is up there with Powertrip & Dopes.Only downside is hearing Ed has left the band just prior to this tour.
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on 5 August 2011
I liked God Says No and both Monolithic Baby! and 4-Way Diablo had moments of classic Space Lord mother madness but to say that either of those three was what i wanted from Monster Magnet after the genius of Powertrip would be an understatement of quite epic proportions.

So i approached Mastermind with more than a little trepidation. Are the returns diminishing? Has the Bull God snorted his last flame? No! No, no and a big freaking NO in atmosphere spanning neon letters that shoot flame and burn the universe to ash. This is the album i wanted after Powertrip!

From the opening down-tuned dirty chords of Hallucination Bomb to the slow and beautiful Time Machine this is the cosmic Space Lord on overdrive crashing out riffs and massive choruses. Dave's grown up too, and his lyrics, always a high point to the whole Monster Magnet thing, sparkle with wit, imagery and introspection. While many of the songs have a more personal theme ("It's all about me!") it doesn't make them any less enjoyable because Dave has take us on that journey, we were with him all the way and now he's brought us home.

The whole of Mastermind fuzzes with tension, bursts with adrenaline and rocks, pure and simple, in a way guaranteed to put a smile on the face all Magnet disciples. Josh Homme has wet dreams of being this good! Dave may be clean now, but this has hints of the best psychedelia from Spine Of God and Superjudge coupled with the attitude and clean rock from Powertrip. All apprehensions that Monster Magnet were becoming a caricature of themselves are blown away in a maelstrom of riffs and reverb. The whole atmosphere of Monster Magnet from Dopes to Infinity seems to be back.

"I don't want to rape the world today." Dave sings. And why would you when you have a universe to demolish!
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on 4 November 2010
i love monster magnet,i don't care if you ask me about superjudge or powertrip, tab or monolithic baby, i think it's all good and this album is no exception.

yes, this album is a lot better than 4 way diablo(which i thought was a pretty good album) for people who are worried that they've lost their touch and maybe one of the best albums they've ever done, it's that good. there's something here for all fans of this band.

i'm not gonna do a run down of every song as i think each song will mean different things to different people, just buy this album if you have any interest in this band, you will not be disappointed.
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on 26 March 2011
I was a bit disappointed when I first listened to this album, but I waited to form an opinion, maybe it would grow on me.

It didn't.

I love MM because of two reasons. Dave's lyrics make me smile and the fact that the really good MM songs evolve into a supernova hot orgasm of GUITAR mayhem, leaving me longing for more and more and more.

The lyrics on this album are OK but seldom really surprising.
The music is OK, but there is NO MAYHEM that leaves me breathless. So I need to return to good old "Space Lord Motherf***" to get some satisfaction.

Sorry guys but this no Powertrip (or Superjudge or God Says No or ...)
I don't regret buying it, but it will not get played much I'm afraid. The competition of those other MM albums is just to tough.
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on 7 June 2016
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