Queens Of The Stone Age (Re-issue)
If the following QOTSA albums catapulted them into the public eye as messiahs of rock ‘n’ roll guitars and hard hitting drums, this more modest debut was a style guide signalling their intent as masters of the carefully constructed mind-infiltrating riff. This re-issue combines the original track listing with relevant bonus tracks from the same period slotted in, boosting an already brilliant album.
The original 11 tracks plus three bonus tracks is frontman and modern rock pioneer Josh Homme’s musical manifesto. It was the product of his attempt to create an instantly recognisable sound, something that he continued to do with engineer-like precision well into the next decade. As soon as you hear the opening four agitated guitar notes on this album you imagine the towering figure of Homme picking them.
The repetitive riffs introduced in opener Regular John and littering the entire album share the same monotony and neurotic demeanour as Krautrock, except Dusseldorph has now become a desert and guitars have descended from the skies. Homme is seemingly infatuated by his own melodic creations and milks them for all they are worth like a hungry wolf devouring an almost bare carcass. They become the axis for each track to spin around and often they contain no more than three notes or one chord. Accompanying these riffs are driving power chords that cut right through your body and give the songs a sense of urgency and direction. Occasional screeching guitar solos present on If Only and bonus track The Bronze are like trapped flys bouncing around a small glass, before giving way to the assured sound that is Homme’s vocal.
The one song that epitomizes 90s QOTSA is Walkin’ on the Sidewalks, a repetitive and punchy rock ‘n’ roll track that transforms into a two-and –a-half minute tunnel of panicky one note jabs. The taunting vocals of You Would Know tread purposefully into the second half of the album, which is bolstered by the additions of the precariously unpredictable These Aren’t The Droids You’re Looking For and the climatic stomp of Spiders and Vinegaroons.
If a commercially successful and critically acclaimed third album has ever got you into a band, tracing them back to their musical roots can often lead to the discovery of a band flirting with genres and finding a niche. QOTSA on the other hand are a band that started out with a clear vision of what they wanted to do. This neatly concocted album is clear proof of that, with signature QOTSA sounds from the off. It also originally came with a handwritten Josh Homme thesis of how he was going to take over the world, with references to an ex Nirvana drummer, a black, white and red rendered video and something about vultures. He’s good.