Archive for November, 2013

Monster Magnet Dave Wyndorf talks to Ross Baker

Monster Magnet

Monster Magnet


Following 2012’s nostalgia trip that was the “Spine Of God” 25th anniversary tour, Dave Wyndorf appeared to be on a high. Yet new opus “Last Patrol” sees him in a contemplative, downright melancholy state, a far cry from the gonzo anthems of “Dinosaur Vacuum” and “Space Lord”. Itching to find out what had taken the good ship Monster Magnet on such a course, we caught up with Dave to discuss, government conspiracies, George Orwell, psycadelia and possibly the darkest Monster Magnet album ever written.  “Last Patrol” feels very dark and apocalyptic in tone. Why is that? “I wanted to look inwards on this album. Writers are always told to “write about what you know” so I wanted to make something which reflected my mood at the time. I looked back at our last record (2011’s “Mastermind”) and I asked myself what I liked and didn’t like about it. It was too long and I wanted to make something with more vibe and of a darker tone. As much as I love writing big rock songs, I wanted to focus on making a record that took you on a journey. “Last Patrol” is a midnight album an album for a lunar eclipse. It’s a risk as it’s not the most immediate album I have done but it was one I was willing to take!”

Reflective is not a term many fans would readily associate with Dave Wyndorf and company, yet “Last Patrol” sees Wyndorf in a more sombre mood with lyrics like “There’s no targets to aim for, no mountains to climb” on “” and disturbing closer “Stay Tuned” where he rasps about “The boys upstairs with the best and worst intentions” to whom is Dave referring? “Corporations, politicians, the man! People have more information than ever before available to them and they are choosing to ignore it! Instead of trying to develop real relationships with each other, they are wasting their time with Facebook! It’s not about having a thousand friends on social media; it’s about developing real relationships with people. People are so self-obsessed, always wanting attention. People say to be they don’t have time to read the newspapers and see what’s going on in the world but they spend all day on Facebook! Facebook is one big flirt; it’s flirting without getting fucked!”

Science fiction has long been a metaphor for Dave Wyndorf to vent his personal demons. While many fans will notice, the zany psycadelic party tunes the double “M” are famous for, they often miss the dark undercurrent of social commentary which comes from Wyndorf’s punk rock roots. “I don’t want to just write escapist fantasy. I have written about space and women and things like that but only an idiot could bury their head in the sand and not see what is going on in the world today. The situation in Syria is fucked! People say the president is doing a bad job but at the same time they have faith that this “culture of America” will see us through. They choose not to question authority. They’d rather ignore it sometimes. I think we are dangerously close to the rise of fascism in the world today. Fascists believe people want to be controlled and have their decisions made for them. We have to wake up before it is too late!”

Wise words indeed from a man whose parents lived through events like the great depression, Dave expresses the need for caution when it comes to the smokescreen of news, social media and celebrity gossip “We live in a world of constant distractions. While you are at home downloading porn, guys are working out new ways to take your freedoms away! These people don’t have your best interests at heart. It helps to be aware. When you read a story in the paper read between the lines and read your George Orwell.”

Despite all this talk of questioning authority and staying connected with humanity, Dave insists that “Last Patrol” was actually a fun record to make. “I had been looking to make a record like this for a long time. When we were touring “Mastermind” in Europe, I watched how our audiences reacted very positively to both the big rock songs and some of the more psycadelic moments. I wanted to make an album which reflected where I am in my life right now. I’m 56 now; I don’t want to jump up and down all the time. I have to be able to present these songs live too. I went with my heart and we left our producer (Matt Hyde) out of this one. Phil Caivano and I wanted to do something more D.I.Y. It was mainly Phil, me and our drummer Bob this time around. Phil came up with all these weird octaves. He really understands what I want when it comes to a certain sound. If I say, “I want to get that early Alice Cooper sound where the guitars sound like a kid playing through the radio” he know what I am talking about. The last album was very thick and used many Gibson guitars but on this record, we simplified things. There are a lot of single string riffs and acoustic parts on the record. I think “Paradise” has about one chord on it. There are some loud parts but we wrote some very intimate songs too.”

Clearly, Dave has been working on these ideas for a long time considering just after “Mastermind” was released he was talking about using pianos and strings in the future. “I still plan to do that but maybe on a solo album. I want to keep working with new songs and keep it fresh for me. I need to be the cook in the kitchen tasting all the new dishes! This album is 99% about me personally. I have always tried to write about what I know, using metaphors to make it more exciting. Instead of saying, “I’m horny”, I’d sing about gallons of lava spilling from a volcano! That was always the way I kept to my punk rock roots and explored my psycadelic influences at the same time!” At this point Wyndorf lets out his familiar infectious laughter. It is comforting to know this sly old fox still maintains his sardonic wits about him. “I don’t want to seem all depressed and paranoid as I’m not but I had some things to say on this record. Whether the next record sounds like this, I don’t know. It will be all about the vibe at that moment. I feel privileged to be of an age where I grew up without technology. It makes me appreciate more what we have now. I still don’t understand it when bands want to make something so sanitised and cleaned up. It’s not rock n’ roll. I love some pop music. That song “Stay” by Rhianna is great. Some of that is great for light relief but too much metal is the same. I did this interview with a guy from some metal publication who was all “Have you heard the new Avenged Sevenfold? Do you know how many records those guys are selling?” and I’m like, I don’t fucking care! Probably because I’m not 14 and don’t have tits but whatever!” Dave cackled mischievously. I love how sensitive some of those guys are when you say you don’t listen to every metal band out there right now.”

Metal purists be damned! Dave Wyndorf has been blazing his own trail for over a quarter of a century. One creative pursuit Monster Magnet took on was working on an alternative version of their classic “Superjudge” which they released on vinyl under their own Studio 13 imprint. Could we expect any more of these releases to come to light? “Well we are working on a sister record to this album right now! It’s a reimagining of “Last Patrol” which will come out next summer. It’s going to be out on Napalm but it’s the same kind of thing as that vinyl release. There will be a lot of 60s style organ on the record. It’s going to be a trip.”

Able to indulge his appetite for cosmic rock in any way he pleases, Dave will shortly be embarking on Monster Magnet’s biggest U.S. tour for over a decade. Considering his comfort in the studio, what makes the veteran frontman still heed the call of the road? “It’s about human interaction. When I am singing and I see people singing our songs I still get a kick out of it. I still enjoy the romance of touring. Who wouldn’t want to wake up at 6am and see the Alps out of the of the tour bus window?”  So despite exploring the darker recesses of his mind on “Last Patrol” Dave Wyndorf remains ever youthful in spirit, with U.K. shows booked for January this is one mothership whose journey is far from over.

Monster Magnet’s “Last Patrol” is out 15th of October on Napalm Records



One event I am looking forward to next y

One event I am looking forward to next year is Hellfest 2014! Here’s my report for Ghost Cult on HF 2013!

In Solitude “Sister”

In Solitude

In Solitude

Genre: Heavy/ Doom Metal
Label: Metal Blade Records

Satanic heavy metallers In Solitude gained much praise for their sophomore effort “The World, The Flesh, The Devil”, a blend of Merciful Fate riffs, twin guitar majesty and early Danzig drama. “Sister” takes all those aspects into darker territory with further atmospherics and gothic influences making for a rich and compelling release.

“He Comes” is a fantastic acoustic number, as foreboding as it is restrained, with Pelle Åhman’s wounded howl evoking dark spirits and desolate lands and “Pallid Hands” combines melodic fretwork with a power that would make Beelzebub proud.Indeed this release is littered with subtle touches, which enrich the songs within it. The eerie glockenspiel outro on “A Buried Sun” and subtle vocal effects and acoustics bring to mind Bauhaus or the Sisters Of Mercy covering early Maiden only they have been kidnapped and locked in a Swedish barn in the middle of nowhere with only whisky for company.

There is no denying the accessibility of songs like “Lavender” with the twin guitars of Niklas Lindström and Henrik Palm almost hypnotic at times. The change the band has undergone between their last record and this is quite remarkable. The gothic paranoia is omnipresent yet so are some infectious melodies that should see In Solitude outgrow their “cult” status in a hurry.

Witchery and wickedness with a more seductive voice than most “Sister” is a dish worth savouring.


ROSS BAKER Nile Live: Nile Nile Live: Nile, Svårt Crown And Ex Deo Live

Originally posted on…

Upcoming Features

Update 7-11-2013

Monday the 11th of November will be an extremely busy day for me. It appears I will be interviewing both Ghost and Ex Guns ‘N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan for Ghost Cult and Powerplay Rock and Metal Magazine!

Also I am in the process of working on interviews with Avatarium, Monster Truck and a big feature on Damnation Festival! Stay tuned for more!



Kvelertak – Meir Album Review

Kvelertak – Meir


Originally posted on Ghost Cult Magazine’s website on 26/03/2013

Norse trailblazers Kvelertak split open the metal scene with their incendiary self titled debut not to mention a fierce reputation on the live front. A mash up of furious punk rock, searing black metal and rock n’ roll swagger the first record was indeed something very special. Having returned to Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou and God City studios for this sophomore effort Meir contains all the characteristic of what made Kvelertak such a shot in the arm.

Frantic tremolo picking and lush melodies of ‘Spring Fra Livet’ kicks the party off and the rousing ‘Bruane Brenn’ is classic Kvelertak not to mention the best reason to stage dive you may get this year. Erlend Hjelvik’s vocals are still as corrosively intense but the rapturous sing-along’s are also in great abundance.While the band remains blessed with fantastic rock n’ roll hooks regrettably yet there are a couple of tracks which could have been given greater attention.Åpenbaring’ has a gorgeous build up riff but finishes to quickly after the vocals have kicked in and the solo in ‘Månelyst’ could happy be extended by a few bars such is the magnetism of its gigantic hooks.

‘Nekrokosmos’ moves away from the garage punk aspects with an almost stoner rock middle section and ‘Undertro’ mixes frostbitten aggression with an almost Thin Lizzy vibe to the guitars.Great musicianship and the seamless melding of musical genres are aspects one expects of Kvelertak by now and while there are some great songs present here just a couple of tracks don’t maintain the lofty standards set by the first album. To follow-up such a groundbreaking debut has clearly been tricky but aside from a couple of half-baked ideas the album is a classy and well rendered affair.

It is a shame to see a couple of small disappointments here and there but when the bar is set so high that can be expected. While Meir may not have the impact its predecessor has had it still contains some fantastic music which may make more sense in the live concert environment. Meir is still a fantastically well written album but this is a tricky transitional record from an undeniably fantastic group.


Ross Baker

Ghost – Infestissumam Album Review

Ghost – Infestissumam


Originally posted on Ghost Cult Magazine’s website on 20/04/2013

Since their Opus Eponymous debut dropped three years ago the nameless ghouls have enticed the greats of rock into their diabolical trap with a combination of a lavish stage show and the catchiest tunes Old Nick has given us in years. Yet by 2013 surely we’ve all gone back to our King Diamond and Blue Öyster Cult albums and cooled off. Not likely!

Beginning in triumphant fashion with their dark choir underpinned by lush classic rock riffing Papa Emeritus II and company have risen to deliver a sermon bolder and more dramatic than the first. ‘Per Aspera Ad Inferi’ stomps along with an almost military drumbeat leading to a triumphant expansive chorus. ‘Infestissumam’ see’s the Swedes expanding their horizons and further incorporate church organ, choral vocals and occasionally eastern melodies while remaining resolutely satanic.

Eschewing the more pop orientated song structures of the debut was a bold approach, certainly while this may be their major label debut the band have pushed themselves into bold new territory delivering an album full of quirks and killer melodies. The psychotic waltz of ‘Secular Haze’ is not the only stylistic departure with ‘Ghuleh/Zombie Queen’ beginning with stark piano and Papa’s chilling “From the darkness/ comes a succubus” refrain before the sinister organ builds the song to a powerful crescendo. The presence of big name producer Nick Raskulinecz has only encouraged the band to unfurl their greater potential, gleefully incorporating classic rock hooks with their blasphemous agenda in even more theatrical and bombastic fashion than before.

Having won fans such as Phil Anselmo and Dave Grohl (The later appearing behind the drumkit drumming on their cover of ABBA’s “I’m A Marionette”) it’s clear that Satan’s minions have the tunes to match their exquisite presentation. The finale of ‘Monstrance Clock’ with its infectious “Come together” refrain will haunt you insidiously for hours after its last airing.

Infestissumam may be Latin for “Most hostile” but this is a graceful and grandiose affair which further pushes their esoteric agenda together with sweeping and timeless melodies. A deliciously tuneful black-hearted affair this sophomore effort shall see Ghost welcome many new parishioners to join their faithful congregation.


Ross Baker