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By James Cerche
31st May 2013

After six years, some internal friction, another lineup change and one reported death on the operating table, Josh Homme and his Queens of the Stone Age are back with a new record; the cryptically titled '...Like Clockwork'. A formidable cover design from UK artist Boneface and a series of stunning promotional videos by Liam Brazier pre-empt the album's dark, seductive preoccupations with striking vampiric imagery. What becomes immediately apparent is that this is a songwriter's record built around atmosphere and lyrics rather than riffs. It's psychedelic, heavy and rumbles with tortured energy. Written during a period of post-operative recovery, during which Homme claims to have "died" for a few moments during a surgery, the songs swim and swirl through traumatic dream states that show a vulnerability that has never been explored as fearlessly on any previous QOTSA releases.


Beginning with a crescendo of shattering glass, 'Keep Your Eyes Peeled' grinds along sensually with drums and bass underscoring a vocal and piano line that instantly recalls the band's 2005 sound circa 'Lullabies To Paralyse'. Sharp punctuations of distortion keep the track dangerous amidst the haunting, sometimes childlike melodies. Whilst the piano has featured on most of QOTSA records, it steps into a position of prominence throughout much of '...Like Clockwork', creating a wider range of tones within the tracks. Both 'The Vampyre of Time and Memory' and the title track use the instrument to flaunt Homme's songwriting prowess and emphasise the storytelling. The latter impressively evokes images of a man (likely Homme himself) who has come to terms with his own mortality after a life of excess.

This is a songwriter's record built around atmosphere and lyrics rather than riffs.

Fans of the band's early work will not be wholly disgruntled by the new direction, and although they never truly thunder with the ferocity of their 2002 classic 'Songs For The Deaf', there are enough moments with edge to get heads banging. Fiery lead single 'My God Is The Sun' offers some slamming riffs amongst the ominous dread. Back end track, 'I Appear Missing', offers itself as a standout track and a personal highlight with its tumbling phrasing and sprawling riffs. "Shock me awake, tear me apart," pleads Homme as we follow him down the rabbit hole into a dark, dirty, falsetto-ridden dream.

'...Like Clockwork' is a complex slow-burner that rewards with multiple listens and will, no doubt, be continually mined to exciting result in the coming months. There is a nuance in the playing (featuring several esteemed Queens alumni including Dave Grohl, Nick Oliveri and Mark Lanegan as well as Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor), and the production is well honed and transportive. Homme has taken bold new steps with his band and yielded exciting things. Investigate and take your time.

BAND: Queens Of The Stone Age
MEMBERS: Joshua Homme
Troy Van Leeuwen
Dean Fertita
Michael Shuman
Jon Theodore
FORMED: 1996
FROM: Palm Desert, California
SOUND: Alternative/hard Rock
TWITTER: @qotsa
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