Villains - Qotsa - Review

Once   upon   a   time,   the   Queens   of   the   Stone   Age   were   the best   band   on   the   planet.   They   had   the   songs,   the attitude,   the   drive   to   make   albums   that   could   knock everybody   out   and   they   had   the   people:   Mark   Lanegan who   sounded   like   a   villain   from   a   Stephen   King   novel, Nick   Oliveri   the   unpredictable   agro-punker,   Josh   Homme the   captain   and   visionary   of   the   band,   Dave   Grohl, Troy   Van   Leeuwen,   Joey   Castillo,   Dave   Catching, Alfredo   Hernandez.   It   was   a   drug   fueled   machine   that left   audiences   across   the   globe   in   awe.   “Songs   for   the Deaf”   still   stands   one   of   the   greatest   rock   albums   of all   time   and   deservingly   so.
Then   things   started   to   shake   up.   Josh   Homme   sacked Oliveri   and   “Lullabies   to   Paralyse”   came   out:   an atmospheric,   dark   album   that   lacked   the   punch   that made   “Songs   for   the   Deaf”   so   irresistible.   Its follow-up   studio-album   “Era   Vulgaris”   was   despite   its qualities   pretty   forgettable   and   I   completely   ignored “Like   Clockwork”   after   hearing   the   rather   plain   “My God   is   the   Sun”.   Now   there   is   “Villains”   and   it   makes me   want   to   put   on   Kyuss’   “Blues   for   the   Red   Sun” again.
QotSA   have   never   released   a   truly   awful   album,   that much   is   true,   and   “Villains”   is   by   no   means   really   bad but   nothing   presented   here   really   makes   impact. Somewhere   in   my   notes,   I’ve   scribbled   “just   because   it sounds   interesting,   doesn’t   mean   it’s   good”   and   that pretty   much   sums   up   the   new   album.
The   album   kicks   off   very   promising   with   “Feet,   Don’t Feel   Me”   with   its   quirky   but   extremely   infectious groove.   Say   what   you   want   about   Homme   but   the   dude   can pen   a   groove   like   nobody   else.   “Fortress”   is   an adorable   indie   ballad   that   drags   on   just   a   tad   too

long.   “The   Way   You   Used   to   Do”   has   a   very   charming rockabilly   feel   and   also   an   annoying   handclap   that sounds   very   artificial   and   reeks   of   drum   computer (which   given   QotSA’s   history   with   excellent   drummers stupefies   me).
“Un-reborn   Again”   is   a   great   title   but   a   song   without any   substance.   “The   Evil   has   Landed”   could   have   used   a better   mix   and   a   grittier   tone   but   that   still   wouldn’t hide   the   fact   that   halfway   the   song   I   had   almost forgotten   about   the   track   before   it   was   even   over   and “Hideaway”   is   just   boring.
Closing   track   “Villains   of   Circumstance”   is   a   track that   should   have   been   sung   by   Lanegan.   Homme’s   voice is   not   demanding   enough   to   sing   such   a   brooding   dark track   and   this   is   somewhat   symptomatic   for   the   current version   of   Queens   of   the   Stone   Age.
During   the   “Rated   R”   and   “Songs   for   the   Deaf”   era, Queens   of   the   Stone   Age   was   not   a   homogeneous collective   but   a   mishmash   of   personalities   and   styles. That’s   not   all   too   strange   if   you’re   familiar   with   the now   defunct   Desert   Sessions,   the   recorded   results   of Josh   Homme   entering   the   studio   with   befriended musicians   and   making   music   together.   The   friends ranged   from   high   school   friends   and   nobodies   to superstars   like   Twiggy   Ramirez   and   PJ   Harvey   and everybody   in   between.   The   band   Queens   of   the   Stone   Age was   the   crystallised   version   of   those   Desert   Sessions. QotSA   in   2017   is   Josh   Homme   and   a   few   lackeys.   He   is the   boss,   he   calls   the   shots   and   he   IS   Queens   of   the Stone   Age.   There   are   no   real   contributors   anymore   but guest   musicians.   Despite   his   enormous   talent   as   a guitar   player,   he   has   his   limits   and   therefore   the

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