Edited by Brett Buchanan
Queens of the Stone Age recently made news when it was announced that they plan to return to the studio before the end of the year. For fans of the band and Josh Homme, this is certainly to be celebrated as Queens of the Stone Age have built a reputation as one of the strongest acts in rock. While fans eagerly await the highly anticipated follow up to 2013’s …Like Clockwork, Alternative Nation has decided to take a look back and see how the band’s first six albums stack up.
Era Vulgaris (2007)
For the band’s fifth album, there was a noticeable shift in musical direction. Frontman/mastermind Josh Homme took the band into new territory, incorporating elements of industrial and noise rock. While it certainly works at times on songs such as “Turning On The Screw” and the album’s lead single, “Sick, Sick, Sick,” it proved to be something of a mixed bag. It was the band’s last album to feature long time drummer Joey Castillo as a permanent member. The often clashing sounds, harsh vocals, and overall under produced sound take away from an otherwise strong collection of songs.
Key Track: “I’m Designer”
Queens of the Stone Age (1998)
Queens of the Stone Age rose like a Phoenix from the California dessert out of the ashes of main man Josh Homme’s former band, Kyuss. Where Kyuss excelled in stoner-rock, Homme took his new band in a more hard rock/alternative direction; while adding in some elements of his former band to keep things interesting. What came was an eclectic mix of rock that started Homme on this journey. The band’s eponymous debut may not be their most definitive album, but as far as debut albums go, you can’t deny that Homme was onto something.
Key Track: “Mexicola”
Rated R (2000)
For the band’s second album, Josh Homme enlisted the services of former Kyuss member Nick Oliveri on bass and vocals as well as former Screaming Trees lead vocalist Mark Lanegan. Rated R serves as almost the blueprint for all of the albums that follow it. Multiple contributors, multiple vocalists and a wide variety of music that one way or another all fits under the umbrella of the band. The album, the band’s most straight up alternative rock sounding, features some of the band’s most classic songs. Oliveri and Lanegan deliver the good on “Autopilot” and “In The Fade” respectively. Homme also showed strides in song-writing as well as a vocalist, proving that Queens of the Stone Age would be a musical force to be reckoned with.
Key Track: “Autopilot”
Lullabies To Paralyze (2005)
Queens of the Stone Age went through some changes before releasing their fourth album. Gone was longtime bassist/vocalist Nick Oliveri. Josh Homme, along with longtime guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen and drummer Joey Castillo, crafted perhaps the band’s darkest work. Dreary, moody and irritable, the album showcased a different, but no less exciting, side to the band. On-again-off-again vocalist Mark Lanegan, with his grainy, guttural beautiful voice, provides some of the album’s vocal highlights, while mostly serving as a backup vocalist. Even through the darkness, the album still shines with a guest spot from ZZ Top legend Billy Gibbons featured on “Burn The Witch,” as well lead single, “Little Sister” with its top notch guitar work and its fantastic use of the cowbell.
Key Track: “Burn The Witch”
…Like Clockwork (2013)
It’s worth noting when a band, fifteen years and six albums into their career, release an album that is so critically praised and commercially loved. That’s what Queens of the Stone Age did here. Where Lullabies To Paralyze is moody, this album is melancholy. There is a sort of wonderful sadness that permeates throughout each of the album’s ten tracks. There is a lot to celebrate with this album. The bulk of the drumming on the album is done courtesy of Foo Fighters main man Dave Grohl, as well as appearances from former bassist Nick Oliveri, Mark Lanegan, Trent Reznor and Sir Elton John. “I Sat By The Ocean” and “Smooth Sailing” show off the band’s fantastic musicianship as well as their ability to craft great pop songs hidden in the form of hard hitting rock. While other songs like “The Vampyre of Time and Memory” and “I Appear Missing” show the band at their most vulnerable. This album has something to offer to everyone, fan or not, which makes its success not surprising.
Key Track: “I Sat By The Ocean”
Songs For The Deaf (2002)
The Magnum Opus of Queens of the Stone Age. Start to finish, this album is a behemoth. From the songwriting to the musicianship to the lyrics and melodies, there was and is nothing more you can want from a Queens of the Stone Age album. Vocally, Mark Lanegan steals the show with his unreal performances on “God Is In The Radio” and “A Song For The Dead.” The album features three prominent vocalists, and the concept of the listener listening to someone switching throughout radio stations with fake DJ’s. Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl, returning to behind the drum kit, absolutely punishes the skins; to the point you really want him to leave his day job and be this band’s permanent drummer. The alternative rock classics, “No One Knows” and “Go With The Flow” add that nice touch of pop sensibilities over the top of some unbelievably strong songs throughout. It may never get better than this for Queens of The Stone Age. But it doesn’t really have to either.
Key Track: “A Song For The Dead”