Nick Oliveri and the Mondo Generator – Dead Planet
Record Label – Suburban Noize
Release Date – 17 July 2007
Balls out rock n’ roll. Pardon the pun, but you really can’t expect anything else from a man who was once arrested for playing naked on stage. That of course happened in Brazil in 2001, and it says all you need to know about one of rock’s most unpredictable and industrious guys, Nick Oliveri.
Also occasionally known as Rex Everything and Pierre Pressure, Oliveri has at various times been a member of the influential stoner rock collective Kyuss, nihilistic punk rockers The Dwarves, and, most famously, was an integral part of Queens of the Stone Age for two of their most successful albums. While his split from the Queens has been described as both acrimonious and amenable, no one can deny the impact he had on the group, and the split left many fans wondering what Oliveri’s next move would be.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Oliveri has turned his full attention to his longtime side project, Mondo Generator. As the man himself puts it, “Mondo Generator is not a side project anymore… my mistress has become my wife.” The group’s first album under the new moniker, Nick Oliveri and the Mondo Generator -- Dead Planet -- was released in Europe last year. Gussied up with new artwork and an updated track list for American listeners, Dead Planet is finally coming to kick some stateside ass.
Oliveri leaves little to the imagination as far as expectations go with the opening track, “Like A Bomb.” “I’ll leave you in pieces,” he sings over wailing chords. His vocal style is brash as always (see the Queens’ “You Think I Ain’t Worth A Dollar But I Feel Like A Millionaire” and you’ll know what I mean), and the stripped instrumentation only emphasizes this. The result is an edgy track that stops just short of being abrasive, and sets an ominous tone for the ride ahead.
And a wild ride it is. The album utilizes both longer, denser tracks (“Lie Detector”, “Sonicslowmotiontrails”, “Take Me Away”) and the kind of two-minute shitkickers you’d expect from ex-Dwarf Rex Anything (“Basket Case”, “Mental Hell”, “I Never Sleep”). One minute you’ll be riding the spacey riffs and relatively mellow vocals of “Sonicslowmotiontrails” (which was the album’s European subtitle) and the next you’re being pounded by the unrelentingly fierce licks and barking vocals of “Basket Case.”
But the incongruity works here – Oliveri has a penchant for both melody and mayhem, and both are on full display on Dead Planet. The first single, “Lie Detector” is a perfect example of this – driving rhythms and restrained vocals on the verses lead into a furious chorus full of screams and crashing percussion (and a kickass guitar solo towards the end).
It should be noted, however, that the album is more trenchant than tranquil. While there are enough lengthier, gloomier tracks to keep Queens fans happy, the album is dominated by fervent riffs and acerbic vocals, including a brisk, raucous cover of folk standard “Sam Hall” (perhaps most famously done by Johnny Cash on his American IV album) as the album’s hidden track.
As you might expect, Oliveri doesn’t offer much in the way of lyrical depth – but he makes it work here. The songs are riddled with seething anger – “I’ll fucking kill you!” on “Basket Case” – and unrepentant lust – “I wanna fuck you” on “She Only Owns You”. Musically, the guys generally stick to metallic crunches and punkish riffs, but, as mentioned, the occasional melodic flourish does show up, getting downright atmospheric at times, and they even manage to sneak an acoustic guitar into the mix on “Take Me Away.” Oliveri’s vocals are perfectly crude, all snarls and growls – exactly how they should be.
All in all, Dead Planet is not for the faint of heart. From the get-go, Oliveri puts his boot to your neck and barely lets up to give you time to breathe. Fans of, say, Sam Beam or Sufjan Stevens should steer clear of this three-chorded orgy of sex and violence. But if you want to receive an aural ass-kicking of the highest order, Dead Planet is the album for you. Even better, you can catch the guys live (albeit clothed – mostly) on this summer’s Ozzfest tour (where else?). Either way, it’s an experience your eardrums won’t soon forget.