Sound — 8
Queens Of The Stone Age - Rated R. The second album from Josh and Co. On this cd we see some well knowen Queens songs. This album was a definte breakthrough for their career and its a fantastic sound. A wide variety of sounds from the relentless pounding of "Feel Good Hit Of The Summer" (which includes Judas Priests' Rob Halford on backing vocals) to the eastern sounding instrumental "Lightning Song".Below I've wrote a little on each track and in brackets I have included who wrote each track. 01."Feel Good Hit of the Summer" (Homme/Oliveri): starting off with a very distinctive single note rhythm from Oliveri on bass, then the drums move with the rhythm in perfect sync, then the guitar kicks in as does the vocals with the main hook "Nicotine,Valium,Vicodin,Marijuana,Esctacy and Alcohol". Of course not for getting the "C C C C C Cocaine" this then continues into some crazy interlude with screeching guitars, then the reminder of the song builds up into a drug fueled drum pounding finale. Great opening track. 02."The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret" (Homme/Oliveri): the biggest hit chart wise from this album was this song. Lyrically (as with most Queens songs I find) its either very obvious or completely vague. In this cause its quite vague although it sounds (to me anyway) about sex, and keeping a secret. Perhaps gossiping. It starts with where "Feel Good..."finished and it rolls into a rather haunting high song vocal perfomance from Josh with the line "Whatever you do/Don't tell anyone". Another great song, the touch of xylophone in the background makes it very atmospheric. 03."Leg of Lamb" (Homme/Oliveri): starting off with a drum fill and then a very odd guitar rhythm. It sounds almost alarm like. Complete with backing vocals from Mark Lanegan. I really can't say much about this song, it makes me feel very odd,it mentions walls caving so it sounds like a bad trip/paranoia to me.An unusual song but it works, not my favourite off the album but still a great song. 04."Auto Pilot" (Oliveri/Homme): first off,this is one of my favourites (if not the favourite) off this album. I very trippy vibe, repetitve (in a good way) drum pattern and some nice soaring lead work from Josh. Nick sings lead on this track. "We arrive in the middle of nowhere" is a lyric within the song that describes the song perfectly. I personally think its just about relaxing(with influence or not) and letting your mind wander. A great middle 8 breakdown with the guitar switching to acoustic, you also hear Mark again here doing backing vocals. It then goes back into the main chorus and slowly we come back down to earth. Fantastic track. 05."Better Living through Chemistry" (Homme/Oliveri): bongos,a distored guitar, distored vocals(ive also noticed the vocals are mostly heard in the left earphone in the beginning, with some noise in the other ear, I can only say the noise sounds like breathing) It then evens out with a long feedback passage, with some random bashes and almost horror film type sounds.Then the drums crash and the guitar picks up speed, with a haunting vocal "Ahhhh" flying above all this. A very odd song. Listening to it with the whole album is good but for standing itself this track doesn't do much for me. 06."Monsters in the Parasol" (Homme/Lalli): apprently wrote after an acid trip, this track first appeared on volume 4 of The Desert Sessions. Numerous QOTSA have came from these sessions so check these out if you haven't already. A repetitve hammer on the A, lyrically it seems to be about (you guessed it) monster and a pre - chorus of "She wont grow" with a very almost jazz like swing, then a build up into the chorus "You've got a monster in your parasol". The drumming is solid as is the guitar. Its very tight rhythmically and the lyrics again very vague and fun. Another high score for Queens here. 07."Quick and to the Pointless" (Oliveri/Homme): "I don't even know what I'm doin here". Spoken at the begginning and I ask the same thing. Start away it kicks in, a couple of handclaps and some very screamed vocals from Nick. This is definetly about sex, also includes females singing, "Im so old/Your so young" this pretty much describes the song. Its filthy fast rock. I love it.Every instrument on this track was recordin all at once, first take. 08."In the Fade" (Homme/Lanegan): again this is contender for my favourite track of the album. Mark Lanegan on lead vocals here.Lyrically this is one of my favourite songs ever, not just for QOTSA. "Live till you die". A very simple but effective chorus with great backing vocals. We even get a rainshaker on the "AND" beat of the 3rd beat. Great lead work,great lyrics,it picks you up,puts you down and then speeds into a reprise of "Feel Good Hit Of The Summer". This song for me is near enough perfection. 09."Tension Head" (Oliveri/Homme): first appearing under the name "13th Floor" on Cocaine Rodeo (Nick Oliveri and The Mondo Generator, Nicks side project at the time). Nick on lead vocals, its very crazy,hectic,fast and heavy.It's not a bad song, but its not my favourite. 10."Lightning Song" (Catching): inspired by Bjork (apprently) this really threw me off, incredibly random. A very eastern sound, very laid back and also very short, this to me is preparing you for whats to come. A nice mellow instrumental track. Writen by Dave Catching who has (and still does at points I believe) toured with QOTSA and The Eagles Of Death Metal. 11."I Think I Lost My Headache" (Homme/Oliveri): well, if your head wasn't screwed up it will be now. A whole 8 minutes and 40 seconds of offbeat headache mayhem. With eerie sliding guitars, Joshs' vocal performance seems distored to me (although with everything else going it could just be me). This track is about paranoia and is apprently Josh Hommes own personal favourite from the album. This really is a hard song to write about,it's very offbeat at times with a heavy riff which I can only describe as doom. It then turns into some crazy horn section which reminds me of something Frank Zappa would do. Its not my favourite on the album but its definetly a great way to finish. A variety of different instruments,suprise reprises,easter influences on "Lightning Song",pounding drums,sometimes obscene vocal performances and a horn cadenza. What more do you need?
Lyrics — 8
With 3 different lead vocal performances were given quite a few different sounds, which in my opinion betters the record. Josh would have to be the high, eerie type sound which lingers around the earphones. Nicks vocals are usually crazy with him surely taking steriods before he peforms. Mark only does lead vocal on one track and backing on about 4 others. Marks voice is just perfection in my opinion, call me a fanboy but you can't a pleasing baritone. Lyrically it all goes well with the music, again as I've said before to me it's either really obvious or near impossible to figure out what the songs are about. Leaving the listener to make his/her own mind up, so I guess it's better. It's far to say "Nicotine, Valium, Vicodin, Marjuana, Esctacy and Alcohol" as a song line won't have Bob Dylan goin "dam why didn't I think of that" but it's catchy and will get in your head. As I've said before the simplicity of Marks line "Live till you die" really is a great lyric to me. To really make up your mind though, it's best to listen yourself so you can hear the context of the lyrics within the sound.
Overall Impression — 8
Now of course we've all heard 3 albums since this song. All of which bring something new and different to the table, but still somehow keep a familar sound. This album is where we see Queens really begginning to find their sound which they would be defined by. To me this album is easily up there with the likes of "Songs For The Deaf" and "Lullabies to Paralyze". Although to be fair, I recommend listening to them all one after the other, it's almost like a series. For me the most impressive songs are "Feel Good Hit Of The Summer", "Auto Pilot","Monsters In The Parasol","Quick and To The Pointless" and "In The Fade". I loved all these tracks amensly and the way the album flows from song to song is superb, it's something the Queens seem to have nailed, whereas some bands ruin good albums, purely because of song order. "Better Living In Chemistry","Tension Head" and "I Think I Lost My Headache" to me are the weakest tracks. That being said they are nowhere near bad, it's just my personal opinion. I think the said songs drag on a little but if I'm listening to the album all the way through, it doesn't usually bother me as much. If I lost this album I would be really sad, I got it for 5 quid when I just turned 16 and have had it for nearly 2 years now. I'd highly recommend this album as well as any other QOTSA album. I'd also say checking out "Desert Sessions","Eagles Of Death Metal" and "Nick Oliveri and The Mondo Generator" and of course "Kyuss" would be a good idea aswell if you want more Queens-esque sounds.