An epic ‘American Spring’ from the panoramic imagination of Josh Homme
Formed from the rubble of stoner-rockers Kyuss at the end of the last millenium, Queens Of The Stone Age first crossover statements ‘Feelgood Hit Of The Summer’ (a list of the contents of frontman Josh Homme’s system after a three-day binge) and insanely compulsive ‘The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret‘ announced a mature songwriting force, supported by a dynamic, muscular band. Homme kept his obvious adoration of beguiling melody hidden beneath the more saleable preoccupations with sex, violence, and narcotic consumption.
‘No One Knows’ became an indie-rock staple, effortlessly making a sweaty room bounce wherever played, while JH’s relationship with The Distillers‘ Brody Dalle kept the alternative press entertained. But the music was growing itself, through the albums ‘Lullabies To Paralyse’ and ‘Era Vulgaris’. Original influences Black Sabbath and other sludge rock types were being challenged by Tool, Lightning Bolt, and Radiohead. Thom Yorke‘s gang peek with great interest from behind the curtain of ‘…Like Clockwork’.
The accompanying animated videos to the tracks of the album tell of a very bleak, desperate vision of 21st century America, blood-stained and gnarled bodies inescapably encountering challenge after challenge. This is mirrored in the cliff-edge music, Homme’s ghostly, barren howl insisting on the hope of hedonistic, nihilist narcicissim as a dignified answer to international capitalism and the abuse of power.
Musically, ‘…Like Clockwork’ Itself references Radiohead‘s ‘Paranoid Android’ in it’s stately/pained march backward/forward, while an over-raching feeling of Guns n’ Roses with a political consciousness or any sense of time, place, or cultural context permeates through others. QOTSA and Gold Blade both bring out an incredibly dirty, powerful bass tone on simultaneous work, while the recent releases of The Flaming Lips, The Strokes, Nick Cave or David Bowie’s ‘The Next Day’ are only matched by the sheer ire of Bowie’s title track in consistent intent of purpose.
In the same way that Siouxsie and the Banshees emitted a desperate howl of directed pain and pointlessness in the mid-eighties, Queens Of The Stone Age have levelled their stare for this decade. Josh Homme sat by the ocean, on the edge of a cliff, while deciding that the bullshit we had to pretend to stomach was too much to keep down. ‘…Like Clockwork’ wakes you up, raises the bar, then punches you in the face.