on 17 September 2003
Before Queens Of the Stone Age, Josh Homme and Nick Olivieri were in one of the most influential rock bands of the nineties. That band was Kyuss, and 'Sky Valley' is possibly the best of their albums - although 'Blues For The Red Sun' and '...And The Circus Leaves Town' are damn fine records too.
Criminally ignored by the mainstream music press (unlike QOTSA, who seem to be everyone journalist's band of the moment), Kyuss nevertheless gained a huge underground following, and it was a surprise when they split so suddenly whilst seemingly on the verge of greater success. Apparently, there were internal problems within the band - namely they all hated the singer!
Still, you'd never guess there was friction in the camp whilst listening to this huge slab of stoner metal. The opening track 'Gardenia' fuzzes into view with an immense, snaking riff, and doesn't relent for nearly six minutes before giving way to the spacey 'Asteroid' - which starts with a clean, quiet intro followed by another juggernaut of a riff.
An example of the sheer inventiveness that set Kyuss apart from their peers is heard when bizarre, atonal guitars pop in halfway through a song which has all but broken down into nothing ness. The song then gets faster and faster as it reaches its climax before cutting straight into the best track on the album, the amusingly-titled 'Supa Scoop And Mighty Scoop'.
This monster of a song possesses what must surely be the best metal riff written since Master Of Puppets. John Garcia screams over the top 'Don't try to take me away; Like I can't live without you' - it sounds cheesy but fits the song perfectly. Halfway through the song changes into another garganutan riff with a completely different feel, the rhythm changes on this album are fantastic. If you thought the end of the previous song was odd, just wait until you hear the end of this one!
The rest of the songs are equally impressive, with some variation on show. '100 Degrees', for instance, is a heads down speedburst clocking in at under two and a half minutes in length, whilst 'Space Cadet' is an acoustic song which manages to sound menacing (God know how they pulled that one off). 'Demon Cleaner' is extremely catchy and the majestic closing track 'Whitewater' is sheer class. In fact, the only thing that lets the album down is a rather stupid hidden track at the end which is nothing more than the band pissing about on a hammond organ for a minute and a half. Tedious.
Still, happily locked away at the end of the album you need not concern yourself with it at all. Simply ignore it and concern yourself only with the rest of what is one of the finest rock albums ever released.
on 2 March 2006
This album changed my life.
When I first heard Sky Valley in about 1996 - 97 It was a revelation. A perfect plend of dense, heavy music with melody & riffs that Black Sabbath would kill for. An unpretentious, progressive form of Rock music that swells with raw energy. Nothing else sounded like this at the time although many people have been influenced by the Kyuss sound since. Kyuss should have been huge but were hindered by the fact that they did not fit into the Seattle scene & did very few interviews, photo shoots etc.
The album starts with the monolithic intro riff to 'Gardenia' one of the finest songs Kyuss ever recorded. The album then ebbs & flows in a beautifully structured way, moving from the heavy rocking of tracks 3 & 4 to the gentle, qiuet 'Space Cadet' with ease. Next up - 'Demon Cleaner' a warm but bitter, heavy but ambient song which is the defining moment of the album. 'Odyssey' is an angrier track with a groovy breakdown section & the next 2 tracks round Sky Valley out perfectly. Finally we have ' Whitewater', an epic song which gives me goosebumps every time.
This easily makes it into my all-time top 5 albums. They were the Led Zeppelin of the 90's.
on 11 January 2016
This is one of my favourite albums of all time, so I was obviously very keen to get it on vinyl after recently purchasing a turntable.
Sadly this repressing from Rhino Records is terrible. It's poorly mastered which gives a flat, dull sound. There is lots of surface noise (despite being thoroughly cleaned repeatedly with Clear Groove vinyl cleaner) and even some very noticeable pops and clicks from the very first play. This is all made worse by the fact that it is a very quiet pressing because I have to turn the volume up much higher than normal, making all the noise more noticeable.
Very disappointing. Best to avoid unless you really must own it and can't get the original pressing or the 180g 2008 reissue which is supposed to be better quality.
EDIT: I emailed Rhino Records complaining about the unacceptable quality of this album. After about 3 weeks they replied and offered to send me another copy. Another 3 weeks later my replacement copy arrived.
It has slightly fewer pops and clicks, but the poor mastering, low volume and truly diabolical surface noise all remain :(
A limited coloured vinyl version is due to be released in August 2016, but I cannot find out if this is a new pressing or not.
on 10 November 2002
"Welocome to Sky Valley" is my second favourite album of all time. This may not seem like much of a recommendation at first, but it is worth bearing in mind that my favourite is "Blues for the Red Sun", also by Kyuss. Before you go tramping off in search of "Blues....", I really must recommend that you get this one first. Kyuss are not a famous band, and so they don't get much time on radio or t.v. Chances are that anyone who is reading this and doesn't own a Kyuss album already is coming to Kyuss through a more famous band, such as Queens of the Stone Age. Therefore, it is best to listen to the Kyuss album which is most friendly to newcomers, and this is it. "....Sky Valley" is the most highly produced Kyuss album, and is probably the smoothest on the ear. Songs such as Demon Cleaner and Space Cadet are incredibly listener friendly, and I have yet to find the person who doesn't like Supa Scoopa and Mighty Scoop. Probably the roughest songs on the album come towards the end, but the album finishes with one of the greatest, most liquid jams of all time, Whitewater. There's a joke track at the end called Lick Doo, and it is completely out of character for Kyuss. Gardenia possesses one of the greatest riffs ever, and N.O. one of the most screamable choruses.
Overall then, this album is a class act, and a superb introduction to a truly awesome band. With it in your collection, you will be ready to tackle the might of "Blues...".
Why are you still reading. Buy the album......NOW.
Don't make me come out there.....
This album is the essence of simple hard, riff-heavy rock, call it `stoner rock' if you will - whatever genre - this will raise the hairs on the back of your neck in a style only the rock gods in the olden days could. This was my first Kyuss album and remains my favourite after going through their discography (which, isn't really much of a feat, it is tragically small). The album's structure is of three pieces, each containing at least three songs, almost creating a medley. At first this structure frustrated me, it wasn't that accessible if I wanted to listen to a part of each long piece, but overall it creates a flow to the album, almost giving it three `movements' each representing different ideas and musically diverse.
The first piece kicks of with `Gardenia' through a powerful muddy, down-tuned riff which progresses through different variations until Garcia's vocals kick in. His voice is brutally raw yet melodic at the same time. I've read some reviewers complaining about his lack of variation, but to me his voice is just perfect, complementing the heavy old-school guitars. `Gardenia' is a mighty opening blow, full of crunching riffs that engulf the listener in a thick haze of distortion. `Asteroid' is a superb instrumental, something Kyuss like to throw into thei albums. It's somewhat progressive in style, built around a simple theme with some mighty crescendos thanks to Homme's advanced song structuring.
`Supa Scoopa and Mighty Scoopa' and `100 degrees' are typical Kyuss rockers, great riffs and melodies. `Space Cadet' then follows halfway through piece two, and what a tremendous surprise it is, an utterly beautiful moving ballad. The guitar playing is amongst the finest on the album and Garcia's vocals are, I would argue, diverse to the usual delivery - soft and tender. The piece washes over in its seven-minute entirety almost too quickly, fortunately though it leads into my other favourite of the album, the driving `Demon Cleaner'. On this one Garcia's vocals have a dreamy aspect to them, recalling the tripped out desert feel. Along with Homme's relentless riffing, this song is simply stunning.
Piece three is probably my least favourite out of the three, but is still a thundering tour-de-force of riffs and melodies. `Odyssey' is one of the most aggressive, confrontational pieces on the album, highlighted by Garcia's overwhelming delivery, launching himself into the lines `once you return from the belly of the beast/ you're never quite the same'. `Whitewater' is a fine way to close the album, a personal highlight for me. It slowly builds to a monumental riff.
This album is quite simply powerful, `listen without distraction' it says in the liner notes, I wouldn't worry about that, this is truly engulfing stuff. For fans of old school rock and metal, and fans of metal in general, try this band immediately.
on 15 January 2003
Any self respecting rock fan needs to have a Kyuss album or 4! I heard this Album in 1995 and eventually tracked down a copy to buy. (Not before I had many puzzled looks from the staff at HMV) They were from then on my favourite band of all time, and I still hope that they might re-form one day. But until then I will have to content myself and listen to demon cleaner and dream. Why do I like them and why should you buy this album? Well I promise you, you are in for a treat. Many bands that have made it to stardom these days do not sound half as good. Kyuss are timeless even now this album will put a shiver down your spine and a big silly grin on your face. It is a Classic in that it is exquisite and perfect, a groundbreaking album and it should defiantly be on your list of to own albums...
on 29 August 2011
Kyuss(*) is invariably listened to by me on scorching hot days where it seems like all other music's power is drained away. Thinking back to long rides on buses through the desert in Inner Mongolia for hours upon hours in the sweltering heat now only conjure up memories of 'Gardenia', 'Asteroid', 'Whitewater' and 'Supa Scoopa and Mighty Scoop'. Kyuss and their three main albums 'Welcome to Sky Valley', '...And the Circus Leaves Town' and 'Blues for the Red Sun' are very much products of their environment. Indeed, it is seemingly impossible to envision these stoner-rock pioneers being based anywhere else but the dusty desert town of Palm Desert. Kyuss' down-tuned, sludgy, sledgehammer riffs lead a sonic assault so dominated by the bass that the vocals, though obviously sung/screamed extremely loudly, are almost entirely submerged in the mix. The vocals on Kyuss are the weakest link, but when listening to such sludgy, heavy riffing it hardly even matters. Likewise, lyrically the album consists of the semi-coherent musings of a stoner...at best. However, I do not fault the album at all for this: Just listening to the steadily accelerating final riff of 'Asteroid' or the 'Planet Caravan (Black Sabbath)'-like 'Space Cadet' is enough to understand that in this album the vocals serve as just another auxiliary instrument: less of a focus than the guitar, bass and drums. It should be noted that 'Whitewater' has one of the greatest riffs in metal, stunning in its simplicity but ever more heavy in spite of (or perhaps due to) it. Although somehow I doubt that stoner rock will be experienced quite the same way in the UK, I do believe that some part of it doesn't change: After all, 'The Sword' and 'Orange Goblin' both fly the 'Stoner Rock' flag in the UK, and their music is no less heavy and no less powerful.
*Kyuss, of course, featured the future singer/guitarist and leader of 'Queens of the Stone Age' - Josh Homme on the guitar, and by listening to this album we can see how much 'Rated-R' and 'Songs for the Deaf'-era Queens of the Stone Age are influenced by this group. The slightly robotic, repetitive riffs of Queens of the Stone Age songs can also be found here, except that here they are transposed several tones down and are much heavier, however the gargantuan riffs remain. For instance, the main guitar line of 'Gonna Leave You' or 'Do It Again' from 'Songs for the Deaf' would not be out of place here. Kyuss have recently re-united under the moniker 'Kyuss Lives!', which features the entire line-up of the band minus Josh Homme, which is a bit of a pity as I would really love to see them live in their original lineup.
on 28 April 2005
This album is nothing short of a unique and epic album. You'll understand as soon as you listen to the two opening tracks. The heavy(in both senses of the word) guitar riffs combine really well with Garcia's vocals throughout. Especially if you're a fan of QOTSA this is a must have album - you will NOT regret a single penny. Just a shame that Kyuss aren't more well known.
on 5 February 2004
Amazing,molten,chilling,grooving.These are just some words to describe this album but there are so many superlatives i could use. If you like QOTSA then buy this. If you like rock music then buy this.Imagine if Black Sabbath had grown up in the californian desert instead of Birmingham and you'll get an idea of what this band is about.Forget Nu-Metal,the only reason the kids don't listen to kyuss is because no one has introduced them to it yet.My ambition is to go to the desert to listen to this as i'm sure it sounds a whole lot better in a car stereo drivin' down the freeway through the mojave.To sum up,please buy this 'cause it RULES!
on 4 March 2004
Sky Valley can be seen as Kyuss' best album. For anyone just getting into Kyuss and considering buying an album, start here. Kyuss can play heavy sludge rock that seers through your temprement like Gardenia, but can create a calming almost mystical feeling with songs like Space Cadet. Produced by Chris Goss, whose ability to manipulate Kyuss' mixed temprement conjurs up imagery of the desert, drugs and sun-kissed grooves upon the listener. The raw talent of Homme's songwriting is apparent in tracks like Demon Cleaner, and prove that Kyuss are more than just a heavy tempered rock band.