|Review by: Tony Clayton-Lea/Irish Times
For quite some time prior to the release of their 2000 album Rated R, Queens Of The Stone Age didn't exactly help matters by engaging in fairly puerile public nudity (off-putting and thoroughly unnecessary, I'm sure you'll agree) and writing songs that boasted the indisputably silly but rather catchy stoner chorus of "Ecstasy, heroin, cocaine, marijuana".
That was before this year's Songs For The Deaf, the Southern California band's third record, and one that is infused with a disconcerting, sombre tone (QOTSA members Josh Homme and Nick Oliveri had both been through divorces and family bereavements) and precision-tooled instrumentation.
The band took to the stage amid a swirl of pupil-popping lights and lighting effects, and proceeded to pummel the life out of the venue and the capacity audience. Vocal duties were shared between Homme, Oliveri and regular collaborator, former Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan; while the former two sandblasted their way through new and old material, it was the latter who occupied the gig's most severely dolorous nooks and crannies.
Lanegan's presence on the hard rocking, downright weird lullaby, Hangin' Tree, and Songs For The Deaf's twisted'n'gnarled Middle Eastern metal was more than a relief from his friends' eye-bulging screeches - it focused the material as a whole and gave it even more substance. In between and around this were the onslaught of hard rock dynamics and tattooed, metronomic beats.
Occasionally, the lengthy metal jams wore on, but they were underpinned with such exacting force (think Husker Dü arm-in-arm with Black Sabbath) that it was difficult to disengage.
We certainly don't think so, but if QOTSA have set out to make the much-maligned genre of hard rock (which can so easily be strained, banal and vacuous) strange and accessible again, it looks like they've succeeded.