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.
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.
Queens of the Stone Age smash and roar through some of the best, most influential hard rock out there, even with a lineup that never seems to be the same twice.
And while their latest, "Era Vulgaris," starts off with a whimper, it quickly works itself up into a bang that can be heard right through the end. Their music here is grimy, rough and raw, but it tries out some new sounds and quirkier edges, without losing the grimy, brooding feeling.
It opens rather limply -- "Turning on the Screw," a jumbled tangle of clashing cymbals, drums and almost mute basslines, which just sort of meanders around in circles. Josh Homme sings mournfully that "You got a question?/Please don't ask it/It puts the lotion in the basket."
Fortunately things perk up in the next song -- dark, rapid riffs and twisting melodies are all over "Sick Sick Sick," a creepily rapid song that gets more tantalizing as it continues. And it leads in to more good music of various types -- the sinuous desert-rock, "Misfit Love's" weirdly plaintive lament, creepy industral grinds, tightly-woven rock'n'roll with a catchy edge, fuzzy blasts of muscular metal, and finally the shifting, layered finale "Run Pig Run."
"Era Vulgaris" is something of a contradiction -- it's a very polished album, but it also has grime, sweat and rough edges. That is to say, the band is expert at spinning some really tight songs with few weaknesses, but it's got the raw power you usually associate with young bands. Bless their dark little hearts.
Homme's rapid, nimble guitar goes overtime with fast, sharp riffs. And that guitar is woven with some dark murky bass, rapid drums, darkly curling keyboard and occasionally some samples (a rattlesnake?), all played with rapid-fire energy. The music twists itself either into a hard-rock rope, or a thunderstorm of brooding, shifting musical layers. And they're not afraid to throw in something quirky and weird, like "Misfit Love."
Homme's jagged lyrics all center on his life near Hollywood -- selling out ("How many times must I sell myself before my pieces are gone?"), sex, taking risks and leaving the past behind all come into play. Homme sings them in a rough, enthusiastic voice, although he also gets to roar and groan some spoken lines -- and even gets accompanied by the smooth-voiced Mark Lanegan and mournful Julian Casablancas.
Hollywood never seemed so alarming and enticing as in "Era Vulgaris," which starts rather weakly, but soon blossoms into a dark, dirty little gem. Vibrant.
Over the course of more than a decade, Queens Of The Stone Age has rarely been content with repeating itself. And "Era Vulgaris" finds the band experimenting with new sounds and rhythms. While it may not be one of their classic albums, it includes its share of strong, interesting tracks:
"Sick, Sick, Sick" hammers away with machine-like precision — built on drums that sound tight, compressed, almost industrial and echoing guitars and vocals that rise and fall back into the mix. "I'm Designer" alternates between a jarring, discordant riff and a seductive chorus in its critique of identity in modern society. "Into The Hollow" would easily find a home on either of the band's previous two albums, with its almost hypnotic rhythm, ethereal vocals and beautiful slide guitar throughout. "Make It With You" is a mid-tempo anthem to physical attraction that's become a QOTSA concert staple. One of the album's best. "3's & 7's" is filled with energy, movement and great guitar fills. "Suture Up Your Future" is another mesmerizing song, almost minimalist at times, melodic at others with fantastic harmony vocals. "River in the Road" continues what "Sick, Sick, Sick" started, creating incredible tension with its insistent rhythm.
The UK version of the album includes two bonus tracks: "Running Joke" (a simple, contemplative dirge) and "Era Vulgaris" (a spooky, medium-tempo groove). Both are worth seeking out if you're a QOTSA fan.
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.
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.
The 'weakest link' on this album is the vocals. It lacks the variety of previous albums, when you had lead vocals by Nick Oliveri & Mark Lanegan, even PJ Harvey, not just Josh Homme on vocals. The Amazon review states that 'Sick Sick Sick' has 'The Strokes' singer on lead vocals, but I never noticed. Mark Lanegan's presence is not very noticeable on this album either. Many of the vocals by Josh Homme sound too quiet, low in the mix, or lost in the sludgy sound. There are exceptions, such as on the ballad 'Running Joke' or '3s & 7s' (the only song which sounds like 'single' material).
Then there are the songs. Most of them are not very memorable. Although 'Make It Wit Tu' is one of the better moments, why was it recorded for a second time? I prefer the 2003 original with PJ Harvey on the 'Desert Sessions 9 & 10' CD. The best tracks? (as well as the latter) '3s & 7s' & 'Into The Hollow'. After those, maybe 'I'm Designer' & 'Suture Up Your Future'. If 'Sick Sick Sick' was a single, it was one of the weaker ones. The worst track? possibly the noisy & incoherent 'Run Pig Run'.
Probably worth 3.5 stars. Come back Nick Oliveri, all is forgiven.
FOOTNOTE: Having recently bought a 'made in the USA' copy (as well), I can report that it has much better sound, which brings new life to the track 'River In The Road', for example, along with other previously dull, stodgy tracks. This 11 track US CD has 2 less songs than the UK edition, with a more digestible playing time. The missing songs are 'Running Joke' & 'Era Vulgaris'. I would therefore recommend the US CD as the best one to buy, if you can find a copy.
I never used to be more than a casual fan of this band, but this album has changed all that. The rhythms are complex and pounding, lyrics intelligent and razor sharp, and when they slow down for tracks such as "Make it Wit Chu" they display their diversity and cool.
Buy this if you are sick, sick, sick of the bland music-by numbers that fills the charts. This is QOTSA's most consistently brilliant album yet.