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.
JamBase | Rock City
Go See Live Music!