Looking over piles of older Queens Of The Stone Age press, one thing remained consistent in their interviews: the first album was their official break from Kyuss, their second album established them and their third album would be their mother lode. They've done it. Songs For The Deaf is easily one of the best rock/metal albums I've heard in years, surpassing R and their self-titled debut (in some aspects, though those albums are fairly well classic in their own right). The bottom line of this disc is that it makes you move; emotionally, it fires you up, physically it makes you rage about. No shoddy teen angst shite, this is fully realized rock & roll on the metal end of the open-for-interpretation curve.
Sabbath-esque bottom end grooves are laced with guitars that keep your head moving in overdrive. This go-round seems to be more of a contemplative late night desert drive than a week of excessive drugs. Maybe it's the come down week that follows. Various middle of the desert sounding radio stations that serve as sequeways between tracks sing the praises of the Queens. As a good band should do from time to time, they tout their own worth in this desolate desert that's been our landscape the past few years.
Though there's a solid argument for listening to this band while slightly altered, straight or late-night QOTSA rarely let ya down. I don't pore over their lyrics - it's much more guttural for me. Their music grabs my insides and throws me around. Consisting of only two actual members, Nick Oliveri and Josh Homme, QOTSA again bring in various outsiders to augment their dynamic sound. Returning is former Screaming Trees singer Mark Lanegan to add another layer of diversity. Honestly, I get all mixed up who's singing which songs, but I don't care: it all elicits the same response. That said, one name is worth mentioning, Dave Grohl; he handles most of the drums and takes the music to a higher and more unified level. Air drums haven't been this fun since early '80s Rush, with finesse being replaced by fury.
Referencing the between song radio interludes, one female jock hits the nail on the head as she forcibly purrs "here is something to drop to your knees for and worship". Welcome hard rock's new royalty for these troubled times.
MATT SURRENA (Beyond Music)