I remember seeing MONSTER MAGNET at the State Theater in Detroit, Michigan sometime around 1991. The quartet opened a bill that featured SOUNDGARDEN with SWERVEDRIVER as direct support, and I'll never forget Dave Wyndorf entering stage left carrying a long neck bottle of Budweiser in one hand with a wild-eyed look about him. And out exploded several tunes from the newly released (or soon-to-be-released...shit, I can't remember) "Spine of God" that blew my freakin' mind. Fuzzed out, distorted, angry, and swimming in psychedelic colors, "Spine of God" and KYUSS' 1992 release, "Blues for the Red Sun" stood (and continue to stand) as stoner rock masterpieces.
Quite honestly, if you already own the original version of "Spine of God", there is little reason to purchase this re-release, unless you really want the demo version of "Ozium", which is not simply a rougher version of the final track. It is a slightly darker and edgier version that features two drummers. And if you don't already own "Spine of God", then what are you waiting for? On to the review.
According to the new (and way too brief) liner notes, Germany's Glitterhouse Records gave New Jersey's MONSTER MAGNET $3,000 to record "Spine of God". The result is an absolute classic work of heavy, chemically altered, metal that reeks of bong resin and swirls about the room like a million tiny helicopters. As much as I enjoyed the albums that followed, (especially the even heavier "Superjudge", the breakthrough "Dopes to Infinity", and "Power Trip"), the musical honesty and trippy brilliance of "Spine of God" will never be matched. It is not so much that "Spine of God" boasts better songwriting than those albums; it is mostly a matter of the vibe created.
The opening riff 'n' drift of "Pill Shovel" sets the tone with an intergalactic float that even smells sweet, while the following track, "Medicine", kicks hard and fast with a killer high (and snarling) register backing shout. Beginning with the sound of an echoing toke, the seven-minute "Nod Scene" mesmerizes with many memorable lines ("copping on a string ray, pussy scratch 'n' sniff in a Playboy," etc.) sung over an airy/clean guitar part that ultimately bursts into a stop-start SABBATH riff/rhythm that is pure bliss. Many more moments of jammy, '70s-inspired drone, guitar buzz, freak outs, and out-your-head bass meandering and guitar soloing is heard on songs like the eight-minute "Black Mastermind", as well as the slow builds and monster crush of the title track ("I just smoke what I like…from what's already there"). The balls-out stomp of "Snake Dance" hits with much the same force as "Medicine". The laid-back and truly psychedelic sounds of "Zodiac Lung" and "Ozium", the former more ominous and mainly consisting of clean strumming guitar and a buzzing second-guitar whine, accented with bongos toward the end, the latter far more 60s-inspired in an LSD sunburst kind of way. A cover of GRAND FUNK RAILROAD's blues-n-boogie "Sin's a Good Man's Brother" is well-suited to the band's style, just like the cover of "Evil (Is Going On)" from the "Superjudge" album.
I recall being marginally turned off by the rough production values when the album first came out, but now I cannot imagine the disc sounding any other way. In fact, it is part of what makes it so special. A spacey aura that'll turn straightedgers into stoners and songwriting that is awfully damn addictive make "Spine of God" a legendary long player.