Sound — 9
You can only guess where a talented person can get his inspiration from! Working on the fifth album of Queens Of The Stone Age, frontman Josh Homme was inspired by his daily drive through Hollywood. As a result of his observations of life, the record got the name of Era Vulgaris that refers to the Latin term for Common Era.
One thing is clear from the very beginning -- this time the things are darker and louder as the band goes for a dirty sound, avoiding any polishing. Of course when it comes to powerful guitar riffs, Josh Homme and Co exceed your expectations. The CD is full of sensational riffs, most of which repeat endlessly through the song. Like in the opener Turning On The Screw that give you a very good idea of what the album is about.
Though the band is doing pretty good by itself, there's still a place for guest appearences -- Sick, Sick, Sick features Julian Casablancas from The Strokes on synth guitar and vocals. Among aggressive tracks of the album, there's chilling and seductive Make It Wit Chu. It's a groovy cut with a shrilling bluesy guitar solo that varies the sound of the CD. Even though the song has previously appeared on live albums, here it sounds unexpected and really different.
There was an evident change in the sound of QOTSA that started with their previous album Lullabies To Paralyze. The new record is again different from everything you've heard before. The only reminiscent track is Into The Hollow. Talking about the sound of the record, Homme describes it as a construction worker. Which is quite true -- the guys couldn't avoid so popular now noise and electronic components of sound, adding more garage feel to the music. At times it even seems like QOTSA are doing everything to make you shiver -- even adding a metal rasp to Battery Acid.
Lyrics — 9
As usually QOTSA could be anything but ordinary in poetry. Homme declares I'm one of a kind/ I'm a designer and comes up with such lines as My generation's for sale/ Beats a steady job in I'm A Designer -- a song that describes all his disgust to the current state of things in the society.
When it comes to the vocals, Homme is professional as ever. His singing is not just the vocal part living by itself. It sounds organic with the music, always fitting the mood of the song and completing it. Depending on what he's singing about, Homme is mellow, ironic, gritty, skeptical or angry.
Overall Impression — 9
Queens Of The Stone Age are avoiding any stamps on principle. As Homme claims himself, he likes combinations that no one would expect. And here's a good example -- while all common bands put the title track in the first part of the album and release it as a single, QOTSA first record it with a guest vocalist Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and then make it a bonus track, free for download on the internet!
It would be weird to talk about the maturing of the band or improved songwriting after Lullabies To Paralyze. I think QOTSA has already taken it's place among the greatest rock bands, now the only question is how long they'll keep up the interest to the band. So far they are doing a great job!