2002 - Addicted to Sound: Songs for the Deaf Review
by David De Sola
Emerging from the ashes of Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age have taken traditional stoner rock and put their own sonic twist to it, incorporating elements of metal and punk. Bassist Nick Olivieri and guitarist Josh Homme are the creative core of Queens of the Stone Age, and alternate lead vocal duties. They have also tapped ex-Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan to record vocals on their last two albums, and he is now a full-fledged member. Ex-Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl sat behind the kit for most of the album and proceeded to put on a clinic in each song. This is easily the best drumming record of the year, one that every kid in a garage band should buy and play along to.

The first song "You Think I Ain't Worth a Dollar But I Feel Like a Millionaire" kicks off with a fast, catchy Grohl drumbeat, and is promptly joined in by Josh Homme who has recorded the most badass guitar riff in recent memory. A lot of the guitar melodies and solos have a mildly fuzzy tone, reminiscent of the sound of 70's bands like Blue Oyster Cult or Thin Lizzy, adding to the overall stoner rock vibe. The chorus lyric "Give me some more" takes on two completely different perspectives within a ten second time frame. The first time Olivieri passively moans it, you want to tell him to shut the hell up and quit whining. The second time, it sounds like he just climbed out of your stereo, seized you by the shoulders to pull you in close and is screaming it an inch away from your face, you want to give him whatever he wants if only he promises not to hurt you.

Grohl's drumming on the record is terrific. If there were ever any doubt, listen to Nirvana's Nevermind and then put this album on immediately after. In a lot of the songs, it is his precise and almost urgent beats which drive the songs. Listen to the rhythm section's intro to "First It Giveth" and it is as close to feeling the musical equivalent of an adrenaline rush that is usually only reserved for guitar riffs, although when Josh Homme jumps into the song, his guitar playing doesn't take over for the drums and bass, it builds on what they already started. Once the chorus kicks in, it's Homme's elegiac wail of "First it giveth then it taketh awaaaaaaaaaay" that becomes the focus of attention.

Queens aren't just distorted guitars and fast drums. Some of the standout cuts on this album are the much mellower "The Sky is Fallin'", "God is in the Radio", and "Song for the Deaf". Towards the end of "Song for the Deaf", Olivieri manages to throw in a few bars of the bassline to "Feel Good Hit of the Summer", from Queens' previous album Rated R. "Gonna Leave You" sounds like Queens attempting to make surf rock, and they pull it off convincingly. Try to imagine the Beach Boys, right down to the "ooooooooh" in the backing vocal harmonies, by way of the distorted guitars of Black Sabbath.

The lone drawback to the album is the radio DJ skits interspersed as filler between a few songs on the album. The first few times you listen to it, it is funny (pay attention to the names of the radio stations and the personalities of the DJs and think if they remind you of anyone you know) but after a few listens, they get boring. Perhaps Queens were taking a page out of the Who's playbook (who did the exact same thing on The Who Sell Out), perhaps they wanted to add to the Sergeant Pepper-style pseudo-concept vibe to the album even though none of the songs are really connected to each other.

In a time when bands like Linkin Park or The Strokes have inexplicably made their way to the forefront of rock in the eyes of mainstream radio and audiences, Queens of the Stone Age have injected new life in the classic distorted guitars, bass, drums, and vocal formula, creating a far more interesting and minimalist album production-wise than most of the bands who are undeservedly selling more records and getting more airplay. This is a prime candidate for best album of the year. Stop reading this article, run to your record store and buy a copy immediately.


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