Remember Kyuss guys? I know little about them at the time of writing and not a huge amount about Queens Of The Stone Age compared to certain other bands I could be reviewing. I’ve never really paid them much attention and from listening to this debut set, I think I know why. Oh, they have their plus points, ‘No One Knows’ being just one of them. Plus points like? Well, without mentioning individual tunes for a little bit here, they sound great. They sound genuinely impressive, especially turned up loud. Question one, strip away the layers of magnificent fuzz and what are we left with? Second good point, they can play. Josh Homme does a few neat little guitar solos, although I always yearn for them to be longer. The band as whole have a great fuzzy thing going on and clearly are good enough players for us to assume they have ‘chops’. Although they do it in such a way they don’t go overboard. For all the 70s rock influences carefully hidden underneath, they aren’t about to blow it by releasing an album long composition for piano and orchestra. I find myself losing interest during the 2nd half of the album, not because it’s a huge amount worse than the 1st half, rather the lack of variety. For all that impresses, I have a nagging suspicion the songs came very easily to Josh Homme and co, too easily. A natural evolution from Kyuss and post Kyuss activities perhaps, but I’ve heard better rock debuts.
I’ll mention a few individual tunes now, ‘Regular John’ is awesome, a stupendous driving riff powers a tune that’s also got just enough vocals to please. Josh Homme isn’t a shouter, his voice sort of just sits in the middle of the overall sound, which is always how a good vocalist in a band should be. ‘Walkin On The Sidewalks’ contains a very dirty sounding guitar riff and sounds so good turned up loud it almost blows away my theory that hard rock albums should also sound reasonably decent listened to quietly. The slightly strange closing tune ‘I Was A Teenage Hand Model’ makes me yearn that Queens Of The Stone Age had thrown in a semi-acoustic ballad, or just something different, somewhere earlier in the albums tracklisting. ‘I Was A Teenage Hand Model’ is very throwaway yet works as one of the few different things here. Oh, the very beginning of ‘Hispanic Impressions’ always makes me think that a Deep Purple song is about to begin. Does anybody else get that? The six minute long ‘You Can’t Quit Me Baby’ is a nod to Led Zeppelin and also something a little more interesting in terms of song-arrangement. A solid debut album overall, rather than an astonishing one, although there is enough within the highlights to suggest that Queens Of The Stone Age can be very good indeed when everything falls in the correct places. Indeed, ‘Regular John’ is so good I could almost claim it’s one of the greatest hard-rock songs ever.