2000 - The Daily Page: Rated R review
by Tom Laskin
The roughest, most brutal rock acts rarely get their due until way after they've disintegrated in a crapulous maelstrom of bad drugs, free alcohol and predictable management rip-offs. And maybe that's as it should be. Did anyone really want to see the Stooges grinding away in front of polite stadium crowds? Or Blue Cheer toning it down for a hippy-dippy unplugged session? Don't think so. Hell, just look at what fans of the once wholly anti-establishment Metallica have to say about their lame attempt to meld their sagging metal riffs with a string section.

Queens of the Stone Age may be headed for the stardom that eluded heavy-duty predecessors like Joshua Homme's desert riff machine, Kyuss, and Kurt Cobain's beloved Melvins, but I doubt it. Like both of those bands, they've been labeled "stoner rock," a commercial kiss of death in the DEA's zero-tolerance version of America. Plus, since they move from lock-step grooves to ascending, raga-inflected progressions that touch on the Doors and Cream, their basic, muscular sound probably won't score many points with the beat-addicted rap-rock contingent.

But that's not a knock on their new CD, R. Former international finance major Homme copped some credit in heaven when he signed on ex-Judas Priest singer Rob Halford as a special guest, and he cashed in when he decided to go with a woozy acid-rock production that would please the most conservative Hendrix fan. Like the Melvins, Homme may worship at the feet of Black Sabbath circa "Paranoid," but he sure isn't out to please the ordinary mosh crowd. Nope, the real audience for repetitive, tripped-out tunes like the forever climaxing "Monsters in the Parasol" and the curt, Stooges-inspired screamer "Quick and to the Pointless" are the same folks who helped the Screaming Trees trundle along their merry, psychedelicized way while the rest of Seattle's reformed punks and metalheads were getting rich.

Maybe there aren't enough of those discerning heads to make Homme and company the ultimate power-rock band of the new century. But does it matter? Dudes, who cares about fame and fortune when the rawk is as a pure and potent as this? To paraphrase the Residents, buy or die, young rebel.

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