Sound — 8
Roughly a year has passed since the members of Monster Magnet unveiled the latest creation, 2013's "Last Patrol," which not only stands as a formidable heavy metal outing but also as one of the band's finest studio albums in their catalog. The original pressing featured nine hard hitting compositions, which gallivanted such traditional headbanging anthems as "Mindless Ones" and the psychedelic closing number "Stay Tuned," however even the most dedicated fan couldn't have expected this veteran rock collective to pick back up with an alternative version of the entire studio effort. "Milking the Stars: a Re-Imagining of Last Patrol" features just this, and while mainman Dave Wyndorf is probably one of the only heavy metal artists who would take an already solid album and try and put an entirely different spin on it, there's no denying that the outcome is equally standout; arguably, even more so, as it doesn't sound like you're even listening to the same album twice.
Almost as though it represents a version of it's predecessor in an alternate dimension, "Milking the Stars" bears some common resemblance to "Last Patrol," however outside of the familiar song structures and a fresh take on the album artwork, we have an entirely different animal here. Thrown into the batch this time around are several new tracks, such as the seven minute groove rocker "Let the Circus Burn," the gritty blues-accented number "No Paradise for Me" (a heavier rendition of the original "Paradise" track from the first album), the otherworldly title track "Milking the Stars," and the wah-fueled "Goliath Returns." Also introduced are two live recordings of songs from the preceding effort, such as an extended eleven minute version of "Last Patrol" and a striking take on "Three Kingfishers," which validates Monster Magnet's reputation for their top notch stage performances.
"Mindless Ones '68," just as the title implies, embodies the psychedelic rock attitude which represented the late 1960s, with particular emphasis placed toward wah pedal guitar playing and far less ferocious percussion accompaniment. "Hallelujah (Fuzz and Swamp)" similarly embodies a character almost like what you would find on an old ZZ Top record, whereas "The Duke (Full on Drums and Wah)" reinforces the recurring theme of wah guitar and smashing drum arrangements. While the titles to these re-imagined numbers sort of give away their new identities, that doesn't make them any less inventive.
Lyrics — 8
Unless he had been chain smoking eight packs of cigarettes a day for the past twelve months, there's no reason to expect Dave Wyndorf would give a vocal performance on "Milking the Stars" that even differed slightly, if at all, then what we found on "Last Patrol" roughly a year ago. Not surprisingly, he gives as strong an effort here as he did previously, and just as an example, we find Wyndorf matching the grueling lyrical delivery of "Mindless Ones '68" with the same strength as on the "up-to-date" version we found on the original take.
Overall Impression — 8
Some artists may even consider it too big a risk to even attempt to put on a new spin on an already good record, but Monster Magnet managed to somehow pull it off on "Milking the Stars: a Re-Imagining of Last Patrol." Admittedly, the album does come pre-packaged with it's fair share of skepticism, however for those fans who admired their previous effort, "Milking the Stars" comes warmly recommended.