Sept. 8, 2000 - Play Louder: Rated R Review
by Neil Kulkarni
Hard to live down a famous band when you try and move on: even harder to make people forget an infamous one. Josh Homme used to be in Kyuss, a band everyone swears they were into but probably never heard; when they split in '95 after pioneering that vague mix of Sabbath-abstraction and dustbowl-psychedelia now called "stoner", many thought Homme would leave the music business for good. QOTSA reunited him with some of his old Kyuss buddies and their '98 eponymous debut for Roadrunner put enough distance between Homme and his past to suggest he'd found a way out of his hugely influential beginnings. 'Rated R' snips the umbilicus with a brute glee that's total.

It's whatever you want it to be: pretty much a squeezebox of metal, boogie, alt- rock eccentricity and full-on power-punk that works not by dint of discipline but through a ruthlessly wayward hunger to keep fucking with your expectations. Opener 'Feel Good Hit Of The Summer' immediately detonates all druggy-innuendo by simply laying 'Rated R''s pharmaceutical diet on the table: the chorus of "C-c-c-c- COCAINNNE!!" jokey enough to stomach, insanely propelled enough to convince.

From then on it's bedlam: 'Leg Of Lamb''s unashamed blooze-funk, 'Auto Pilot''s motorik thrum, 'Monsters In The Parasol' diving deep into pure Beefheart ziggurats and 'In The Fade' building to implosion more beautifully than anything since Hurl or Shudder To Think. 'I Lost My Headache' gently draws you through eight-plus minutes of widescreen shadows and you're left hitting repeat, sinking deeper into the roach-twitching fug and crucially not where you were when you started. Sad to say how rare that is: in US rock 'Rated R' has that depressingly rare commodity of imagination, unaffiliated, untethered, and spinning out of its tiny mind. Get bent.

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