on 23 December 2007
It's a bit of a funny one, this... Almost a statement of intent rather than just another album:
As has already been stated numerous times, this is certainly one album that takes a bit of getting used to. If you're just discovering QOTSA this probably isn't a great starting point and even if you're already a bit of a fan it probably won't grab you straight away.
For one thing, you'll have to get your head around the way it's been mixed - On first listen certain high frequencies you'd expect to hear in a music recording simply aren't there, meaning that the album sits in a slightly uncomfortable, not-quite-low-fi sounding grey area... And if you're anything like me (ie. already concerned that you listen to far too much loud music) it might cause you to panic temporarily in the belief that you've gone fifty per cent deaf overnight. Repeated listens however, will reveal that the album is actually quite cleverly mixed and although it may not sound particularly conventional, somehow it helps the album to feel that little bit more twisted and awkward and a bit, well, seedy really.
Once you've gotten used to the mix you then have to contend with the hugely raw, angular nature of the songs. Genuine use of melody is pretty sparse but therein lies the secret of this album - The more you listen to it, the more little hooks and catchy lyrics start to leap out at you seemingly from nowhere, and that's when the cleverness of it all dawns on you. It's almost as if the songs in their entirety aren't really the focal point of the album at all but are merely Generation Game style conveyor belts laiden with lots of cool stuff and the occaisional grand prize; a means of keeping everything moving along until you see something you really like.
This is a daring album in the sense that it will cause even the biggest of QOTSA fans to abandon their preconceptions of where the band is (or isn't) headed, and to once again face the music with a completely open mind, and in that sense it's actually quite refreshing.
on 4 July 2007
Seriously, i cant believe anyone would give this album such a low score. I can only assume these people heard "No-one Knows", and thought all QOTSA was from the same mould. This is, in my opinion, the best and most consistent QOTSA album. Every tune has the weird, grungey, dirty feel which i so love about there music. It is almost unclassifiable, and all the better for it. This is'nt Bon Jovi, this is a challenging ride which is a very rewarding experience. Listen to it a few times and the subtle groove which cuts through the entire album comes to the fore. Stand out tracks are "Sick, sick, sick" and "Make it Witchu", but every track is a gem. Buy it and make your own mind up.
on 13 June 2015
As I recall this was hailed as a return to form and then after it so was TCV .. Class is permanent & from Kyuss thru Screaming Trees and all points inbetween Josh has exhibited it in abundance .. occasionally drawing negative criticism where it is neither wanted nor deserved .. I got 3's & 7's on Vinyl 7" no less back in the Day & have sat with this one ever since as it accrues meaning, gravity & it's place in the QOTSA Cannon .. for me they are hard to separate objectively as although common ground exists in all of them each Platter has a unique Sound .. I have found that in the Modern era, so since 2000, they have proved a most consistent, enjoyable, original, committed, uplifting, Life affirming Band and if you happen upon this one 1st then buy it .. and buy all the others too .. no Real music Fan would ever be dissapointed .. So let 3's & 7's plus River in the Road lead in the right direction ..
on 5 October 2015
Weakest of their albums. A bit dull at times to be honest and, although all the group's albums have moments of self-indulgence, this whole album seems to suffer from that particular flaw. Has interesting moments but not a patch on their other albums.
on 13 June 2007
As a major fan, upon first listen I was immensely intrigued by this release, but not immediately hooked. This is an album that begs you to play it over and over so that you can unearth something new every time you put it on. And it certainly delivers on that lingering promise.
Any new Queens album now suffers as a result of automatically being held up against the now-classic Songs for the Deaf, but doing this is a huge mistake on two levels. Firstly, not many albums can come close to matching the perfection of that record - it was one of those magic one-offs, a moment in time you could get lost in. Secondly, one should consider the two excellent albums that pre-dated SFTD - their excellent self-titled debut and, still my personal favourite, the gloriously hedonistic Rated R. Viewed in relation to their entire back catalogue, the progression to Era Vulgaris starts to make much more sense.
While their two previous albums have seen the revolving door in full-swing, they've certainly to me had the feel of Josh Homme solo projects. Certainly, Lullabies suffered as a result of, first and foremost directly following SFTD, but also being the first post-Nick Oliveri album. In addition, poor old Joey Castillo had the amazingly hard feat of following Dave Grohl's breathtaking guest turn on the third record.
Not that Lullabies was a bad record by any stretch - it was at times daring, always dark and moody and threw up some classic tracks - The Blood Is Love, Someone's In The Wolf, I Never Came and Burn the Witch among others have all gone down as classics already. The album's only downfall was it's timing, and possibly being a little over-long.
And so we come to Era Vulgaris. After two albums of Homme plus whoever feels like dropping by, this is the once again the sound of a band binding together. That's why on first listen it most instantly draws comparison to Rated R - more direct, tighter, shorter tracks. However, it is also the least commercial release since their debut, but I don't think this hinders it. The classic Queens blueprint is instantly recognisable - heavy riffing and the great hooks are still there. You just have to give them more time to ingrain themselves into your psyche...which they inevitably do.
Homme has mentioned how Joey Castillo and Troy van Leeuwen have had considerable input into this record, and the majority of this album has unusually grown organically in a more conventional band/studio process, and hence the reason this sounds more like a "band" record rather than a bunch of random musicians all chipping in.
But what of the most important aspect - the songs? Many people will have heard the Julian Casablancas-assisted Sick, Sick, Sick, as well as the first single 3s & 7s. While the former signals a slight departure in sound, it's relentless and building fuzzed-up hook is irresistible. The latter is one of the more interesting songs on the record - it's like 3 great tracks fused into one giant monster of a tune. Listen to it over and over and you'll never get bored.
I'm Designer carries a more minimalist, almost robotic sound reminiscent of Rated R's Leg of Lamb. Although this feels like a return to Rated R-era Queens, sonically, it's much more experimental than the first two albums - fusing elements of Industrial and New Wave into their classic desert rock sound.
Mark Lanegan only leads one track on the record this time, for the galloping wail of River in the Road, while Josh Homme does his best Lanegan impression on the outstanding Into the Hollow. I was stunned to learn in a recent interview with Homme that it isn't actually Lanegan singing on this track. Anyway, this tune is right up there. Mid-paced, brooding and intense, the song burns a hole right into your soul. It's like a more pumped-up version of the beautiful I Never Came. Not surprising seeing as this track came together directly after Lullabies. This one gets better ever time I hear it.
Another of the more interesting songs is Suture Up Your Future. With its unsettling yet beguiling vibe, this is a song that slithers its way into your head and doesn't leave for weeks. This also wouldn't have been out of place on Lullabies.
Make It Wit Chu is still a beauty of a tune, and definitely stands up to the original Desert Session version - although I'm sure many would disagree with me on that! Misfit Love grinds and pounds like Terminator on steroids and is simply meant to be played very very LOUD.
This is a 4/5 album for me as it contains one definite filler - Battery Acid goes nowhere and you feel was written by Josh in his sleep. It's QOTSA by numbers. Also, album opener Turning On The Screw sounds like a good idea, but half-finished.
Otherwise, this is a superb album. Like I said, don't expect another Songs for the Deaf. That ain't going to happen. Just marvel at a band who never rest on their laurels, always deliver, and on this evidence, look like they may continue to take their pulsating heavy-riffing magic in a new and interesting, but always compelling direction every time they converge in the studio.
No other band around right now does what they do. Ambitious, innovative and I can't stop listening to it. Highly recommended.
on 15 April 2014
I've read so many negative reviews of this album, and i'm ashamed to say that it delayed me buying it for some time.
QOTST came to my attention with the release of Songs for the Deaf. A great album, and one I seriously overplayed. Now owning all of the QOTSA albums, I can say that every one of them has a place in my heart. All of then differ from each other, apart from the most important thing of all, Josh Homme.
For me, Mr Homme's is the most talented, charismatic and consistent songwriter about. I've been listening to a diverse range of musiv from the moment my ears were able, and I have to say, there aren't many who compare.
To the album then.
On first listening,I was quite suprised at how unpolished it was in comparision to SFTD. It has an almost industrial sound to some tracks, Guitars more abrupt, short riffs and an almost under produced sound.
But you know what? The songs are still there. Turnin' On The Screw is a great opener, all fidgety riffing, impudent vocals and really to the point. There's always a real confidence to Homme's songs, his imprint unmistakeable.
I'm Designer has some real knowing lyrics - a nod to Homme's view on fame no doubt.
Misfit Love just oozes coolness. Other bands try, but with these guys it just comes natural. Almost incidental to the music.
I love that Make it Wit Chu is resurrected from the Dessert Sessions. It deserves to be heard!! I'm choosing this one for the first dance of my yet to be announced wedding. Also have to find a bride first . . .
I really mean it when I say that this album just gets better after every listen.
Is there that many bands who have such a consistantly strong back catelogue? Not in my experience.
on 23 June 2007
People keep saying that this one will grow on you after a few listens but its still not doing anything for me. Im sure everyone has their own reasons for loving this band and hears different things that appeal to them. For me this is completely lacking in the depth, atmosphere and drama of their previous releases. All their albums are different and tend to have a distinctive vibe that runs all the way through - with Era I can certainly hear what Homme et al were trying with this when he said about it having a kind of trashy LA Hollywood feel. They seem to have captured the vibe but its let down by an almost complete lack of memorable tunes / hooks this time around. The jams are all pretty repetetive and indistinctive. I generally feel its a lower standard of songwriting. Queens have always had melodies / riffs that bend my ear in unexpected ways and for me, they're just not present on Era. I also felt that the kind of robotic, electronic-y production didn't sit well with a lot of the tunes. Whilst that was clearly a deliberate artistic choice by the band, i really wasn't feeling it - didn't sound like a rock band playing as a band to me. Just generally a bit disappointed really. Never mind, im sure they can write another brilliant album in time! Anyway, by the look of the other mainly positive reviews here plenty of people are getting their kicks out of it, so its cool.
on 3 August 2013
I bought this at the same time Like Clockwork came out and I find im listening to both equally.
Thing is all Queens albums are different but theres always a hook a line or a vibe if you like that tells you this is the Queens.
To be honest I admit my favourite tracks are Make it Wit chu and suture up your future.
If your a queens fan and you haven't got this take the plunge its maybe not as accessible as some of their others but I like it for that very reason.
on 19 December 2015
I really don't get it when people give an album a low score, and complain that they don't like it because it's different to the band's earlier releases.
Well, that's the point of releasing new albums isn't it? Because the songs are different to the ones that preceeded it?!
Not every QOTSA album is going to have a 'No One Knows' on it.
The one star reviews on here are utterly unfounded. This album is loose and dirty at times. It has moments of tight aggression and laid back lounge cool, and the song craft, as always from Homme and Co, its smart, catchy and polished.
Stylistically, I would say it's closer to Rated R than the two releases that directly preceeded it.
Although, unfortunately Era Vulgaris will probably always be overshadowed by other QOTSA records, I think it is at least as good as anything else they have released.
on 26 September 2013
I was hopeful it was going to be something special as it was very pricey compared to say the CD version now. but its beautifully presented the fold out looks fantastic, the 10" vinyls are really cool. and it sounds fantastic. very happy with it.