Monster Magnet‘s third album, 1995’s Dopes To Infinity was the New Jersey rock band’s first album to allow them to make some sort of mark on the charts. While their first two albums had buckets of raw attitude, they weren’t exactly commercial efforts and, although the band didn’t quite reach a wider success until much later, Dopes To Infinity was certainly a big step in the right direction.
What was it about this one that made people shut up and listen for once?
Let’s check it out.
The album opens with title track “Dopes To Infinity” which starts heavy and quickly establishes a thick beat. It’s a simple, sexy rhythm and the song sounds a bit like a cross between Creed and The Foo Fighters with a sprinkle of KISS. The chorus comes late, after a big build-up but it tops off the track really well.
The album’s big hit, “Negasonic Teenage Warhead” is next and it’s easy to see why this one did as well as it did. A slow, distorted opening is soon broken by a catchy riff which comes back throughout the song to keep it rocking. The chorus is very cool, catchy and infectious and the spacey video is gloriously 90’s and tons of fun.
Next up is “Look To Your Orb For The Warning”, a slower-paced but equally heavy track. It’s a long one but it’s got some great lyrics, terrific guitar solos and it’s pretty atmospheric as the band continues to embrace its “stoner rock” subgenre. “All Friends And Kingdom Come” is a more experimental track with further emphasis on the vocals. It’s a softer song which picks up here and there and its rhythm has a slight middle-eastern twang, funnily enough.
“Ego, The Living Planet” starts heavy again, this time with a long, instrumental intro. Had the track been a bit faster, it would have easily been full-on death metal. The odd scream or moan can be heard in the background giving the song an otherworldly feel. Song number 6, “Blow ‘Em Off”, kicks off with more of an acoustic vibe and yet again the lyrics are a priority. It builds up slowly, with a nifty melody that grows and grows, leading us to a solid chorus.
“Third Alternative” brings with it distorted, moody vocals and a Smashing Pumpkins-esque tone before the guitars kick in full blast almost two minutes in and the track proudly turns into a bluesy hymn of defiance. The eighth track, “I Control, I Fly”, brings the pace of the album back up thankfully with a fast rhythm, grungy vocals and a kickass chorus. It’s easily one of the best, most fun tracks on the album.
Then in comes “King Of Mars”, a track which, once again, opens with distorted sounds as a terrific melody promptly kicks in and helps makes sure the song lives up to its title in terms of epicness. Good mix of swagger and memorable hooks in this one. “Dead Christmas” is a very different track with a much more chilled (bongos’ll do that) beat. Full of playful mini-riffs, this is another very catchy tune The Red Hot Chili Peppers I’m sure would have loved to toy around with. The song develops through pretty melodic changes and there’s a fun 60’s vibe all the way.
The next track is entitled “Theme From Masterburner” and although it’s a really entertaining instrumental burst of energy, it seems misplaced in the album. Surely, it would have been a nice track to have in the middle of the album between a couple of slower tracks as a short pick up of sorts. Here, it acts more as a transition to “Vertigo”, a stoner-rific experimental final track steeped in 70’s trippiness which fades out into nothing then comes back much later with some feedback, ending the album on a red-eyed question mark.
So that’s Monster Magnet’s Dopes To Infinity and it’s definitely a departure from the band’s earlier efforts in that there’s a few more easily palatable tracks in there with (slightly) less of an emphasis on distortion and random sound effects. There’s still some creative funkiness in there but it’s all better balanced and, like a good drug, the album goes up and down with some great highs and some comfortably mellow lows.
Is it their best album? That’s debatable, but overall it’s cool and it works.
What more do you want?
That’s 4 Red Hot Chili Fellas out of 5 for those New Jersey devils.
Dopes? I think not.