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Queens of the Stone Age - Massively Rated
, 8 Aug. 2010
This review is from: Rated Rx (Audio CD)
Queens of the Stone Age arose in the 1990s out of desert storm created by the ashes of metal gods Kyuss, a band who featured both the dynamic presence of lead singer/guitarist Josh Homme and the wizard bearded bass fiend Nick Oliveri (if you have never heard "Gardenia" seek it out now). The special thing about QOTSA is that they are a unpredictable, super intelligent hard rock band who defy hard rock clichés. Homme maybe riff obsessed but they are classic riffs with interesting twists and turns, even on something as basic as the greatest steal of German "ommpah" music ever on the brilliant "No one knows". What other band could generate a debate currently raging on the Amazon music forum at the moment whether "Josh Homme is the sexiest musician alive"? Frankly I am rather agnostic about the point but its further proof that QOTSA have a cool credibility and remain the US's most vibrant heavy rock band not least of all in the ability to attract stellar "side musicians" like Dave Grohl and Mark Lanagan.
What a treat then to have their best album released (it was of course voted as the NME writers' album of the year in 2000) in this deluxe edition containing in addition a blistering performance from the Reading festival in 2000 and some wonderful curiosities including a sort of a cover of Carly Simon's "Your so vain" and a nice version of Romeo Void's new wave classic, "Never Say Never". It is the Rated Rx however that is the star of the show. In the ten years since its release it has aged wonderfully. Is there a better album opener on any stoner record than the stuttering "Feel good hit of the summer"? "In "Lost art of Keeping a secret" the band possess one of the funkiest rock songs ever recorded with Homme's scintillating vocal exclaiming "Leap of faith, do you doubt/Cut you in, I just cut you out" before the anthem like chorus explodes and a tight guitar solo follows. Then we have two songs that vie for the title "best song on the album" firstly the volcanic grower "In the fade" sung by Lanagan which reminds you of his scintillating work on Screaming Trees classic "Dust" album and the huge eight minute plus scuzz riff juggernaut "I think I lost my headache". The latter Sabbath like behemoth just steals it not least because of its one of the most epic songs to ever end with a 3 minute insidious avant garde horns infused solo. At a wider level the loud Olivieri punk rock screamer "Tension Head" is all controlled fury; then there is the trippy pop metal of "Monsters in your Parasol"; while finally the bongo driven and riff heavy "Better living through chemistry" is wonderfully sinister although some respite can be found in the gentle instrumental "Lightning song".
Homme and Oliveri were of course to bitterly part at a later stage when the bassist was fired prior to the recording of "Lullabies to Paralyze". Yet Rated R along with "Songs for the deaf" represents their finest work. Overall the extended Rated Rx is hugely welcome visitor to our shores, it is incredibly focused, exhilarating and one of the most storming albums committed to vinyl. Thus please feel free to join me in the reprise. Altogether now "Nicotine, valium, vicodin, marijuana, ecstasy, and alcohol....".
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