Welcome to Throwback Thursday! This is the place where we get to indulge in nostalgia and wax poetic about excellent metal of years past. For this, the 58th edition of this series, we're wrapping up this month's theme of 'warm fuzz' in protest of the of the polar vortex that has basically shut down the entirety of the Midwest.
Now, I recognize that 'Fuzz February' would have had a better ring to it, but January has called upon the gods of psychedelic hot-boxing to fight the frigidness of winter's icy bones. To fight the freeze this week, we're warming up up with a early album from Monster Magnet's discography, Superjudge. An oft over-looked addition to the world of 'stoner metal', Superjudge helped forge a sound that crafted a band and a genre.
MONSTER MAGNET'S SUPERJUDGE
Release Date: April 1993
Record Label: A&M
With a decidedly more rock'n roll angle to it, I don't get the same kind of intensity from Superjudge and metal proprietors Monster Magnet as I do from brother bands Kyuss or Sleep. In Superjudge, songs dip into slow and mid tempos and retro riff sensibilities blend with a clean, bright album mix. The effect-heavy Superjudge leads with unapologetic psychedelia that hints at an apathetic attitude of a person who doesn't mind flickin' the match and walking away. While many tracks have the attention commanding presence found in the singer-songwriter genre, the end of title track "Superjudge" rips and rolls with the an energy that reminds me of the end of "Freebird":
Monster Magnet is the baby of founding member Dave Wyndorf. In a 2011 interview with The Void with Christina, Wyndorf remembers the beginnings of Monster Magnet, "It started out like kind of like a, as a weird, freakish hobby – ya know, I never thought anybody would like it. So, it was done in the basement, in New Jersey, uhm – making cassette tapes. And we brought it out. We opened up for Jane's Addiction at one time and people actually thought it was music so we just jumped on that. We've been grinding ever since."
The band goes on to quip, "We're metal. Stoner rock is a really good word to label people as lazy." Frankly, that's always been my issue with the connotation of the 'stoner rock' label as well. Superjudge, like other hugely influential albums from bands like Sleep and Kyuss, isn't a lazy album. Songs like "Cage Around the Sun" surge with all the lyric-focused expression and somberness of cohorts Alice in Chains and Jane's Addiction.
Superjudge is the first album for the band to come out on a major record label. Despite A&M backing the album, Superjudge didn't fare well commercially. It is also the first album from Monster Magnet to feature guitarist Ed Mundell (who went on to Atomic Bitchwax. That's another band you neeeeeeed to check out if you are a Monster Magnet fan). With Superjudge, the lyrics manage to be free-spirited and direct. In our 2018 interview, Wyndorf quips [in relation to the state of media, Americans, and music], "I don’t know where I fit in this world, I just try to pretend that I can live in my own fourth dimension universe." I think that 'third-eye', far-out, space-rock mentality has been a driving force for Monster Magnet.
As with so, so, so, SO many albums that have come to pass here on TBT, I feel that Superjudge is another hugely under appreciated album (especially as a contribution to the discography of Monster Magnet's career). Superjudge is a great "Monster Magnet For Beginners" album. It sets a precedent not only for the rest of their lengthy career, but also establishes sound that is synonymous with a rockstar-laden drive through a Las Vegas-kissed acid trip. Superjudge is part spiritual, part emotional, part story-teller and all rock'n'roll.
If seeing these guys sounds like a good idea to you, you can catch them on tour this summer.