Sound — 8
For those of you who live on the Moon, Queens Of The Stone Age are the world's best hard rock band at the moment. Lullabies To Paralyze is the fourth Queens album, recorded with key personnel Josh Homme (guitars, vocals, bass), Troy Van Leeuwen (guitars, lap-steel, vocals), Alain Johannes (bass, guitars, vocals) and Joey Castillo (drums). There's contributions from ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons (guitar), Mark Lanegan (vocals on Lullaby), Brody Dalle and Shirley Manson (backing vocals) and Eagles Of Death Metal frontman Jesse "The Devil" Everett Hughes (apparently he plays the flute). As you can see, this is a whole lot of instruments, and as such the album sounds really polished and well-produced (by Joe Baressi). If you like more garage style music with minimalist production, you probably won't like the sound of this. Joey Castillo (ex. Danzig) is certainly a skilled drummer, and Troy (A Perfect Circle, Enemy) is an amazing guitarist as anyone who saw the 2003 QOTSA tour will agree. Alain Johannes does a good job on bass, but you'll still find Queens and Kyuss fans mourning the loss of Nick Oliveri. Ignore them. Josh's great guitar sound and vocals carry this album. A lot of the earlier tracks are very radio-friendly sounding, which may put some people off. However, this soon makes way for cracking songs like the epic Someone's In The Wolf which starts off with a cracking riff liek we expect from QOTSA and descends into some weird distortion and effects making this song really listenable. You will be singing In My Head all day when you buy this record, even if you heard it on the last Desert Sessions. The bonus tracks are amazing, so make sure you get them. At the end of the album is a reminder of the finale to Rated R: a full brass section ends the album rather than the three hornists on the second Queens record. This to me shows how Queens have changed since then - there's more instruments, everything is smoothed and polished to perfection now. I give it a four simply because I'd like something faster in the middle, with less of a perfect sound. We all know Nick could have provided it, but apart from that the record can't be faulted.
Lyrics — 8
A lot of the lyrics here are about sex. Skin On Skin almost makes you cringe with Josh repeatedly singing (falsetto) "I wanna lick you so much." There are other themes too; Medication is fairly self explanatory while Burn the Witch echos the fairytale theme of the packaging. Mark's opening Lullaby is delivered in his characteristic gruff tones (the man practically lived on heroin, cigarettes and whisky for a decade, and it shows) while Josh uses his full vocal range like he never has before. Maybe having a bit more of Mark would have made for some nice variety (but then I do have four Mark Lanegan albums so I can live without) but the songs aren't let down by Josh's voice and poetic words. While I miss Nick screaming "You're gonna f--ing die!", those tracks were never the highlights of the previous records.
Overall Impression — 10
If you like the other Queens Of The Stone Age records, you won't dislike this. It's not as heavy, thrashy or garage-like as some fans might be hoping, but go listen to Mondo Generator if you miss Nick! If you know Kyuss (Homme and Oliveri's former band) this record is like. And the Circus Leaves Town To Songs for the Deaf's Welcome To Sky Valley. It's calmer, more mature. I think most hard rock fans will embrace this record and other bands will view it as a standard to aim for. So what are you waiting for? Go buy!