|TROY VAN LEEUWEN|
FROM: PALM DESERT, CALIFORNIA
SOUND: ALTERNATIVE/HARD ROCK
With a revolving door of musicians and collaborators, the Queens emerged brandishing their own take on heavy, riff-based rock that would give birth to a highly esteemed catalogue and one the most influential records in modern music.
The first full-length release under the QOTSA name was recorded almost entirely by Homme, who performs every instrument on the album. Droning guitars dominate the record, which Homme considers an exercise in "robot rock", referring the repetitive, low tones and insistent riffing. While the band's sound would progress over subsequent releases, the carefully focused monotony of their debut remains fundamentally present in their songwriting.
'Rated R' (2000)
'Rated R' marked the beginning of Homme's collaboration with notorious bassist Nick Oliveri (who served as touring musician in the band's early years) and Mark Lanegan (the gravel-throated vocalist of the Screaming Trees). The addition of Oliveri saw the band moving in a more passionate, melodic direction that layered strong grooves onto the existing formula to successful crossover effect. Bongos ('Better Living Through Chemistry') and acoustic guitars rub shoulders with even larger riffs to create a record intent on expanding the sonic pallet that Homme established on the debut. Live favourite 'Feel Good Hit of the Summer' has remained a setlist staple for over a decade with its chugging guitars and comprehensive list of illicit substances.
'Songs For The Deaf' (2002)
The big one. The magnum opus (so far) of their recorded output, topped lists for 2002's album of the year and produced a slew of successful singles ('No One Knows', 'Go With The Flow', 'First It Giveth') and ferocious Queens classics ('Millionaire' and 'Song For The Dead'). The record is universally praised as an alternative metal masterpiece through its fusion of hulking riffs, blistering drumming (Dave Grohl manned the skins) and catchy pop hooks. This was an essential era for the band and 'Songs For The Deaf' remains an essential album for the genre.
'Lullabies To Paralyse' (2005)
The band forayed into psychedelic rock with their 2005 effort, experimenting with a fresh array of tones and moods. Following a haunting lullaby from Lanegan, the record begins with the same pace as its predecessors before changing direction midway and opening out into a series of expansive jams. Homme indulges a love of baby-making music, crooning his way through the album's back half and refining the falsetto harmonies flirted with on earlier releases. Tracks like 'Little Sister' and 'Burn The Witch' keep the intensity ticking and serve as a reminder of the band's capability of producing original singles on their own terms.
'Era Vulgaris' (2007)
Dark and sexually charged, 'Era Vulgaris' is a heavy record that stomps along in a strangely playful fashion that belies the foreboding tones of its instrumentation. Sarcastic, mocking lyrics dominate the content, punctuated by the kitsch porn groove of the aptly titled 'Make It Wit Chu' that sits in the middle of the record between the monstrous krautrock blasts of 'Misfit Love' and the frenetic squeals of single '3s & 7s'. 'Era Vulagris' may seem difficult to penetrate for listeners who are new to the band but presents itself as a noteworthy addition to the more accessible work released years earlier.
But what next? Their first record in five years is slated for release at the end of the month and, based on the few tracks that have been made available, it appears that the band are sticking to their guns and refusing to sell out. Homme has often advocated the mantra of "never repeating another and never repeating oneself", so we can be sure that there's plenty to look forward to from one of the biggest, baddest rock bands in music today.
'...Like Clockwork' is out via Matador Records on 31st May 2013.