There is something incredibly cool and special about what Monster Magnet was doing in the 1990s that lives on in the hearts of those who absorbed it all as it was happening. I was only thirteen years old when I first discovered Monster Magnet, barely old enough to understand even the least nuanced subjects of their music like ‘humping volcanoes’ and ‘talking to planets,’ but even then I noticed that this band was not like anything else that was filtering through mainstream radio. In 1998 when “Powertrip” and “Space Lord” found rotation on the radio up in my neck of the woods, Monster Magnet steamrolled right over my senses. Powertrip steamrolled over a lot of senses, if the reception and success of the album indicates anything. Somehow despite not being a pop, hip hop, or nu-metal act, Monster Magnet shot up the US Top Heatseekers chart and landed within the US Billboard Top 100.
Monster Magnet brought the fun back to rock & roll at a time where it had been mostly angst ridden for nearly a decade. When nu-metal broke into the mainstream due to KoRn’s Freak On a Leash album, it seemed definite that was where metal and hard rock would be going into the next decade, also. Of course that is exactly the direction that it would go commercially in an almost ubiquitous sense, but the fact that these weirdos from New Jersey led by a 41 year old man would somehow get thrown into that mix doing their own thing without stereotypes attached, that’s something that I really don’t recall happening much in popular music at that time. On top of being different, they were paying homage to old school styles like psychedelic and garage rock with no apologies.
The success of their videos deserves a lot of respect as well, because it gave the band a way to reach out to millions of people tuned into MTV’s most popular television show at the time. MTV’s Total Request Live is unforgettable for anyone who grew up during those years. Even if you didn’t watch it, you knew the impact it had on our culture; here we had Carson Daly introducing a bunch of young millennials to a stoner rock band, and then Powertrip was certified gold.
Nowadays you may see a lot more people shift attention to Kyuss or Sleep as the torch bearers of the 90s stoner rock scene, and you couldn’t say that is wrong because neither one of those two bands fail to meet the expectation of a torch bearer in terms of what they represent later down the line, but you can’t say Monster Magnet wasn’t up there as it was happening. They took the deal that A&M gave them and ran with it to the rings of Saturn. This is a stoner rock band that isn’t one of the 70s classics who have somehow managed to get their songs into huge major motion pictures and a WWE PPV, which should speak volumes. Christ, someone over at Marvel decided to name a character after a Monster Magnet song and now millions of Deadpool fans are impacted by the band without even knowing it.
It was a matter of David Wyndorf’s personal belief that rock & roll was a hyped up sex type thing which could still be lived out and realized in the presence of so many opposing mentalities. With Powertrip, one could not help but feel that they were dipping into some kind of mana that was not of this world, as Wyndorf invited us into his kaleidoscopic musical world of self inspection, astral travel, hedonism, and worldly escape. Despite whatever opportunities or pressures they may have had to sell out, Monster Magnet never went down that dirty route. Twenty years later Powertrip stands the test of time for several reasons, and one of them is an example to new generations of stoner metal bands that you can in fact make it into chart topping territory without leasing your souls — or if you do lease them, lease them to the true gods.