Queens of the Stone Age: Era Vulgaris

By: Chris Pacifico

I'm following the words of Dr. Leo Marvin from What About Bob? when I say that I'm not wrong often but when I am, I need to admit it. Back in 2005, when I reviewed Queens of the Stone Age's previous release, Lullabies to Paralyze, I proclaimed that it could be the last good album they have in them since the departure of co-founding member Nick Oliveri. Simply put, I was wrong.

Era Vulgaris (Interscope) seems set in a skuzzy watering hole on a parched, barren California highway, a joint that reeks of oily rags, where the liquor license is long expired, peep shows happen in the back near a men's room - which has a communal drying cloth instead of paper towels - and the barkeep serves batches of moonshine from a four generation old recipe that can also be used to strip the paint off of a cruise liner. It lives up to the all night ragers thrown in the desert by singer-bandleader Josh Homme's former band Kyuss, where everybody is caked in sand soot and seeping into a coasting private world thanks to peyote buttons.

Homme's falsetto is as unnerving as ever, and the Queens' need-for-speed instinct tosses in a revving barnburner ("Sick, Sick, Sick") while Troy Van Leeuwen's offers sliding twang on "Into the Hollow," which conjures a more sinister version of Cream's Disraeli Gears. Leeuwen makes "3's & 7's" the ghastly love child of metal-billy and a morose piano ballad.

Prior to this release, word spread about guest spots from Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor and ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, but neither actually appears on Era Vulgaris. But, with every QOTSA release it nice to know that Mark Lanegan comes out of whatever cave that he's sleeping upside down in. His always craggy voice is the clamorous cloud that looms over "River In The Road."

With Era, Queens of the Stone Age has slipped into hot, sticky, dense pop crannies with a gritty stoner rock aesthetic that falls into a black hole that lands between the years of Golden Earring's "Radar Love" and Red Rider's "Lunatic Fringe" - a bit of good ol' fashioned rock 'n' roll with track marks streaked up and down its arms.

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[Published on: 7/1/07]

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GrantedProductions starstarstarstarstar Tue 7/3/2007 08:08AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


prob one of the sickest rock albums of the year... no one had any expectations and no one saw it coming! weeeeerd!

Justin Gillett Wed 7/4/2007 04:22PM
Show -4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
deftone984 Sun 7/8/2007 12:57PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


i wanna make it wit chu.

sleewell starstarstarstarstar Tue 7/10/2007 04:38PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


this is a sick album and deserves all the accolades it receives. kings of leon's album is good too, but it is not in the same class of music imo. the opening track is freaking sweet, and i like the radio song a lot too. these guys are one of the best bands in hard rock and i cant wait to see them 7/22 in costa mesa. bring it!!

DaKracken Tue 7/31/2007 10:03PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Consistently great, always original this is just a great band. I wish Mark Lanegon would just step up and take over all vocals. Lanegon has one of the best voices in rock (Screaming trees were one of my favorite bands) and still has that mystic quality because he avoids the trappings of fame. Can't wait to see them live again