On Songs for the Deaf
, core Queens of the Stone Age members Nick Oliveri and Josh Homme, with the help of like-minded consorts Dave Grohl
and Mark Lanegan
, balance pure guitar-induced carnage with more complex, though no less aggressive, speed rock that whips by so fast it creates its own breeze. The disc explodes with "You Think I Ain't Worth a Dollar, But I Feel Like a Millionaire", a toxic squall of power chords and now-classic Oliveri death howls. It's here the album's recurring concept/conceit is introduced, as a generic-sounding announcer from LA's "Clone" radio spits out some psychobabble reinforcing the tired if true cliché that commercial radio stinks. Similar mock broadcasts surface elsewhere, but they're easily forgivable, given the bounty on offer.
Homme-powered tracks dominate--the lurching, weirdly springy single "No One Knows" is a kind of "Monster Mash" for grown-ups; the vocal harmony-driven "The Sky Is Falling" is almost dreamy until a small army of guitars surge to the front lines to begin firing. And a lyrically winking hidden track, "Mosquito Song", is either an in-joke of ridiculous proportions or a declarative statement about the level of musicianship lurking just beneath the quaking veneer of the Queens' sound. Either way, genuine excitement comes early and often on Songs for the Deaf. It's a remarkable achievement--a hard rock record so good that it immediately evokes a conspiratorial fervour that makes you want to tell everyone you can about it. Er, job done. --Kim Hughes
Heavy? Yes, but in a clever, camp kind of way. Rock? Definitely.With Dave Grohl behind the drum kit and a bucket full of Sabbath style riffing, it certainly rocks.
2000's Rated R was one of the best post Nirvana american rock albums. It was an elusive, dark, slippery kind of record, a series of pastiches of rock styles past that seemed more real and cut deeper than the posturing of most grunge. Some of it sounded like Metallica, some of it like David Bowie circa The Man Who Sold the World. Lots of people voted it the best album of the year. But then as usual the ground shifted, along came The Strokes and "irony" and "bleak" became strictly last year.
The Queens have responded with typical perversity and produced a CD which is even bleaker than the last one. The shadow of death hangs firmly over its first 30 minutes. At times the wailing witches' chorus and unrelenting tales of hanging trees and murder gets a bit indigestible.
But there's still plenty of head shaking rock action. Nick Oliveri screams his head off in the groovy "Millionaire". Grohl's drum intro on "A Song For The Dead" is better than the rest of the song. "No One Knows" comes across like ZZ Top in a really, really bad mood. Slowly the mood doesn't exactly lighten but at least becomes less brutal, as the second half sets up a series of doomy love songs. "Do It Again" matches a Gary Glitter stomp with the best melody of the album while "Another Love Song" comes as a complete surprise, a perfect piece of gloomy late Sixties pop.
It all depends how you like your rock. If you like it with big airy spaces, lots of affirmation and a nice happy ending you should buy the Coldplay album. But if you like it tricky, claustrophobic but with plenty of swoons and thrills you should get to grips with this big, dense monster of a record.
(Since receiving your comments below, we have corrected the above review - Nick Oliveri screams in Millionaire, not Mark Lanegan - apologies, and thanks for your corrections! - ed)
Like This? Try These:
Foo Fighters - One By One
Vex Red - Start With A Strong And Persistant Desire --Nick Reynolds
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