Nov. 27 2000 - Q: Rated R review
by Paul Elliott
In the early '90s, a band of pot-smokers based in a small town in the California desert cooked up a powerful and strangely beautiful new stratum of rock. Evoking the doomy riffage of Black Sabbath and the psychedelic groove of Cream, Kyuss's stoner rock found a devoted audience among rock fans bored by grunge and scornful of superstar behemoths such as Guns N' Roses and Metallica. Kyuss broke up in 1995 after three albums - band leader Josh Homme credited the split to the band's "weird philosophy" - but their spirit lives on in Queens Of The Stone Age. Homme brands his new music "robot rock" in reference to the quintet's hypnotic use of repetitive rhythm, but his label belies the soul power at the heart of this mighty record. Feel Good Hit Of The Summer is a riotous start. Comparable to the fucked-up rock'n'roll thunder of Monster Magnet, it barrels along for an exhilarating 2 mins 43 secs in which Homme and a guest-star choir featuring ex-Judas Priest screamer Rob Halford chant a wicked mantra of "Nicotine, valium, Vicodin, marijuana, ecstasy and alcohol!". To which Homme gleefully and not unexpectedly adds: "C-c-c-c-c-cocaine!" Cheekily, each song carries a joke "parental advisory" warning. Feel Good Hit Of The Summer promises "adult situations", "consumption" and "illegal substances", and delivers. Quick & To The Pointless sees Queens Of The Stone Age approach the dementia of Iggy's Stooges, a favourite of Homme's, but the real insanity comes at the finish with an untitled eight-minute robot rock dirge which degenerates into maddened jazz convulsions. R is produced by Chris Goss, erstwhile leader of retro-rock freaks Masters Of Reality, who once counted miserable Cream drummer Ginger Baker in their ranks. Echoes of Goss's former band are heard on In The Fade, the most melodic of R's dozen tracks save for the wryly titled acoustic number I Think I Lost My Headache. Both feature ex-Screaming Trees singer Mark Lanegan. R is labeled "Restricted: To Everyone, Everywhere, All The Time". The irony is that Queens Of The Stone Age may well have a sleeper hit on their hands.

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