on September 11, 2003
Although the latest Queens Of The Stone Age release Songs For The Deaf seems to be getting all the press these days, the previous album Rated R, in my opinion, ranks as their best release. And I hold Songs For The Deaf in pretty high regard, so that's saying something.
This album is way more experimental than your run-of-the-mill stoner rock. Pianos, horns, and electronic effects are pulled out for effect while Josh Homme digs deep into his bag of guitar riffs and comes up with a memorable, headbangable one for each track. The lyrics are typical QOTSA--ironic, intelligent, funny, and drug-induced. Most of the songs are kept short and to the point, and never lose their punch.
And my, what diversity. Loud Olivieri screamers (Tension Head), straightahead yet left-of-center rock (Leg Of Lamb, Autopilot), a floaty little instrumental (Lightning Song), a brilliant number featuring Mark Lanegan on vocals (In The Fade), Sabbath-esque lumbering rock (I Think I Lost My Headache), and just all-out trippiness (Better Living Through Chemistry, Monsters In The Parasol), it's amazing what this band can do with just a 42-minute run time.
While there is one weak song (the aptly titled Quick And To The Pointless), it's not enough to keep me from giving Rated R 5 stars. Whether you're a QOTSA fan, a Kyuss fan, or just love alternative or stoner rock, this is one of the best-executed albums I've heard lately. Highly reccommended.
"Feel Good Hit of the Summer" leads off "Rated R" with a crazy, decadent vibe, but the album doesn't remain at such a chaotic pace. Queens of the Stone Age have everything in their songwriting repetoire: The band's music caters to the thinking man, the party goer, the rockers, people with a sense of quirkiness, and mainstream audiences who just like good, melodic rock and roll -- with a twist of weirdness thrown in.
"The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret" is instantly likable, and it's the song that got me into this awesome band. Many of the other tunes on "Rated R" share the same low-key, melodic vibe of "Lost Art...", which makes for a great listening experience. Vocals on this album are shared, giving it a more eclectic feel than the classic-rock sound of Queens of the Stone Age's debut album, another excellent CD. Also, unlike the darker first album, "Rated R" has a brighter sound, and in some cases a more pop/rock feel, which caters to a wider audience. Various musicians, including the great Mark Lanegan (see Whiskey for the Holy Ghost), contribute to "Rated R", and the results are great.
Perhaps "Rated R's" most interesting -- and best -- tune is "Better Living Through Chemistry." It begins foreboding enough, with Josh Homme's distant, echoey vocals and a dark guitar riff. Paranoid lyrics give way to a quiet lull, before a Zeppelin/Sabbath riff kicks in unexpectantly. The song is disjointed and a little strange, but perfectly sums up this band and its love of experimentation (on many levels!).
Many of these lyrics are obviously influenced by drugs, all of them very rock and roll in their intent. It sounds like the band had a good time making "Rated R." "In the Fade," sung by Mark Lanegan, is a tune that should have made its way straight to modern-rock radio playlists all over the country -- the song has "hit" written all over it. A slower, mellow tune with pleasantly vibrating guitars, "In the Fade" is another great musical moment for this band, and showcases its versatility as musicians and varying musical tastes. "Tension Head" is pure hard rock, with an aggressive riff and raging vocals by bassist Nick Oliveria. By contrast, "Lightning Song" is a pleasant guitar instrumental that just kind of floats for two minutes, making way for the last Sabbath-influenced song, "I Think I Lost My Headache."
Overall, "Rated R" is less straightforward than the first album, less ambitious than the third album (see Songs for the Deaf), and full of more interesting sounds and great tunes by one of the best bands ever.
on December 10, 2005
Yes, this is, without a doubt the best QOTSA album. Breaking away from the previous album which was quite boring ( almost every song sounds the same ) , Rated R has an unique appeal to it. Starting off with "Feel good hit of the summer" and it's simple but heart felt message (someone that spends 2m43s singing "Nicotine, valium, vicodin, marijuana, ecstasy and alcohol, c-c-c-c-c-cocaine" really likes it!!), passing through great songs like "Monsters in the parasol", "Leg of lamb", "Auto pilot" and so on, you get a sense that although the core of the band lies in Josh Homme and Nick Oliveri, QOTSA is nothing but a bunch of friends gathered around to play great music and share experiences and sensibilities. Unlike "Songs for the deaf" and it's visceral appeal, "Rated R" has more of hallucinogenic side to it and that makes it a great trip. Excellent record, worthy of every cent. A must have and a must hear, over and over. And then again.
on June 13, 2000
If you have any connections with the British music press like me, then you will have read in the New Musical Express that they thought that this album was the most important and anticipated underground rock album since "Nevermind" - can there possibly be any higher praise than that? The answer is yes and no. The reason for it not being 'entirely' correct is that you cannot rank anything made by the Queens of the Stone Age over Kyuss, but at the same time the statement is accurate in that Kyuss never got noticed, unlike the Queens are now, and since the Queens have risen from the ashes of Kyuss (although with a COMPLETELY different sound), then this IS probably the most anticipated underground rock album for many a year.
So, with a huge sigh of relief and joy, I can kindly inform all of you that this album is majestic. On my first listen, the record just about reduced me to tears at how great it was. There's the irresistible punk infused drug anthem "Feel Good Hit of the Summer", the dark and twisted psychedelic pop tunes "The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret", "Monsters in the Parasol" - a brilliant reworking of a desert sessions track -and the weird and quirky "Leg of Lamb". Then there is the quite franky sublime guest appearance by Mark Lanegan of the great Screaming Trees on the heart-melting "In the Fade" which has one of the best guitar chorus lines I've ever heard. Or how about the hallucinogenic and timeless beauty of "Auto Pilot", "Better Living Through Chemistry" and "I Think I Lost my Headache". "Auto Pilot" actually has a very David Bowie ring about it, showing how far this band is willing to push their boundaries.
The Queens don't stop there, though. No, sir. "Quick and to the Pointless" and "Tension Head" are two of the maddest and most inspired punk rock songs I've ever heard. The former includes a riot girl chant that goes "Yeah!Yeah!Yeah!" - with handclaps. The latter being a driving, trashy b*&ch of a song about the morning after the night before. Both are mental, and both are genius.
Indeed, this whole album doesn't have anything that can be compared to it. Their debut album indicated their musical vision i.e. Josh Homme's vision and the product of many years of hard work by one of the greatest guitarists of our generation and his co-conspirators is this. One of the most perfectly realised rock albums ever made.
on February 10, 2002
Eclectic, creative, and addictive, "Rated R" sees Queens of the Stone Age expanding on the riff-driven stoner rock found on their classic self-titled debut. Whereas their prior album found the band using grinding, repetitive riffs for the most part, with "Rated R" the band uses a much greater variety of sounds and song structures. "Feel Good Hit of the Summer" is fast and catchy ode to drug use, while the single "The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret" places Josh Homme's laid-back wail over a driving guitar riff. Other highlights include the trippy "Leg of Lamb," the slow and atmosperic "Auto Pilot" and "In the Fade," and the propulsive "Monsters in the Parasol" (how much pot did Homme smoke before he came up with that lyric?). The use of multiple singers is a plus, as Nick Oliveri's gritty voice powers "Auto Pilot" and Mark Lanegan lends "In the Fade" its relaxed air. Throughout the album, QOTSA maintain the garage edge that characterizes stoner rock, without it sounding like it was tape-recorded in a garage. Like its predecessor, "Rated R" is a great album for cruising around with the windows open and the stereo blasting, or just sitting around mellowing out.
on April 26, 2005
I have to admit, I found out about Queens of the Stone Age after Songs for the Deaf was released so I naturally went for the latest release. With the new album coming up (review coming soon!), I decided to go back to Queens' Rated R album. While different from Songs for the Deaf, this album still has the epic nature of its successor.
The album starts off with "Feel Good Hit of the Summer" with pulsating bass and drums and crunchy guitars that are the background of Homme's voice repeating intoxicants. The occasional guitar solos and background voices make this song one of the best Queens songs; a good way to start the album.
Next comes "Lost Art of Keeping a Secret." With a more mysterious yet upbeat tone, this song is very catchy. Homme's souring voice flouts over Oliveri's jumpy riffs. With the crunchy distorted guitars in the chorus makes this song great and original.
"Leg of Lamb" comes with a repeated guitar riff that changes during the chorus. Overall, a decent song but not able to compete with the first two hits.
"Auto Pilot" has souring (pardon the pun) guitars and Oliveri's voice is calm and soothing. A relaxing rock song. Some would consider it a first. Great song that's very catchy.
"Better Living Through Chemistry" is back to mysterious guitar riffs. Homme smooth singing tells some stuff that seems like Matrix movie references in the lyrics. With occasional pauses, humming voices, and guitar solos keep you on your feet and enables to pay attention to the whole song. A great song and matches it up with the first two songs to become a hit.
"Monsters in the Parasol" starts off promising with a crunchy guitar riff and upbeat drums. However, the guitar and Homme's voice in the chorus crashes and burns and sounds like music that would be on the background of a circus.
"Quick and to the Pointless" is exactly what the title says. It's a Oliveri scream session. There's some German (?) in the lyrics that makes is slightly more interesting. The kids' screaming "Yeah yeah yeah yeah" and the guitar riffs are catchy and you can't help but randomly start singing the song in conversations.
"In The Fade" begins to start like another mysterious song but turns out to be...should I say...happy? The bass and guitar riffs seem one that would be used a mainstream love song. The most mainstream-like on this album, its not bad and its catchy but it doesn't seem like the same Queens. However, at the very end it seems that the band felt nostalgic and gave us about a 30 second clip of "Feel Good Hit of the Summer" which gives off a meaning to their audience: Don't do drugs, kids!!
"Tension Head" gives a mainstream-like guitar riff that accompanies another Oliveri scream session. Like "Quick" its still a good song and fits into the flow of the CD.
As if to make up for the loud guitar riffs that blow off your ears, "Lightning Song" is an instrumental song that has a piano, soothing acoustic guitars, and a nice beat that makes you think of hot girls on the beach. Great song! It's going on my calm music playlist.
To go out with a bang "I Think I Lost My Headache" sounds like "Better Living" but with a slightly syncopated beat in the beginning and Homme's voice is not filtered. This over-eight-minute-long epic is a great way to end the song. Curiosly enough, it even has a brass section to the song where trumpets and French horns take on the guitar riff. Along with that is a trumpet solo in which you can't help but smile.
Better than Song for the Deaf? Hard to say. Less poppy and more pure rock, "R" is one of the best albums around. How do they do it? I guess it doesn't matter, as long as they keep doing it. So I highly suggest this CD. Well that's the end of the review. And remember kids, don't do drugs.
on March 9, 2002
There seems to be a definite hunger among rock fans/listeners for reference points and comparisons when one seeks to capture the sound (and feel) of a given band. Before even hearing Queens of the Stone Age, I culled, from divergent sources, the following musical comparisons: Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer, The Cult, Danzig, Cream, Soundgarden, Motorhead, Pink Floyd, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Radio Head, The Stooges, Ozzy, Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Monster Magnet, Corrosion of Conformity, Marilyn Manson. Their music was alternately labelled "cocaine pop", "stoner metal", "stoner rock", "tripadelic metal", and "desert metal". Given the breadth of these descriptions of the QOTS sound and genre, and the fact I love many of the aforementioned bands, I was definitely intrigued and expected Rated R to wow me.
IT DIDN'T DISAPPOINT. I was however, taken aback at first. Expecting to hear the saturnine, grinding and repetitive Iommiesque guitar riffs on every track, it took me about 6 listens to fully appreciate Rated R. The album simply defies pithy categorization, with nearly each song demonstrating a different genre. Rated R features:
(1) PUNKish jams in 'Feel Good Hit of the Summer' - the lyrics to which you can't help but smile knowlingly; and 'Quick and to the Pointless' - a Ballroom Blitz-type number complete with handclaps and a "yeah yeah yeah" cheerleader chorus);
2) trippy, PSYCHADELIC offerings 'Auto Pilot' - perhaps the album's only low-point, and 'Better Living Through chemistry' - an interesting track with fuzz guitar, excellent bass work and timeless percussion;
(3) POP. Yes, that's right. "The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret" is damn near a top-40 single. The song harkens back to Cream, features excellent vocals and a very catchy chorus. There's even a vibraphone thrown in which lends crispness to the overall sound; and "In the Fade", an excellent track featuring the Screaming Trees frontman on the vocals;
(4) ROCK. "Leg of Lamb" doesn't really fit any of the genres. It features a quirky guitar hook with a strident, minimalist solo which I think actually works. (some reviewers have described it as an aural equivalent to fingernails-on-chalkboard. To each his/her own I guess); "Monsters in the Parasol" - simple (yet effective) straight-forward rocker about hallucinations with humorous lyrics.
(5) ACOUSTIC/easy listening. Despite its evocative title, "Lightning Song" is an acoustic instrumental in the mold of a Zeppelin album filler - a kind of comic relief that's not very funny. This is the second disappointment on the album; and
(6) (you knew this was coming) METAL. I have found THE RIFF. When the UK rag NME called "Tension Head" one of the greatest rock songs ever "realised", I dismissed it as pure rhetorical hyperbole; Well, its not. This song begins with a biting, low-string guitar intro reminiscent of an accellerated "Into the Void" and morphs into an all-out speed metal assault in which the band's unsavory 'habits' ("hustlin' little girls", "I feel so...sick - on the bathroom floor") are chronicled in a breakneck race to the bottom. The riff on 'Tension Head's is so good, so huge, so.......PERFECT for the type of song and its message, I think it ranks as one of the all-time best guitar songs despite a lack of an actual guitar solo.
Rated R's other hight point is the album's final track. "I Think I Lost My Headache" begins with a clean, haunting riff reminiscent of Soundgarden/Sabbath and picks up steam with brilliant use of steel drums, in which the percussionist displays an incredible ability to hit the "off notes" - something that I always marvelled at because so few people can do it. It takes incredible coordination and a near-perfect ear for music. Think Neil Peart. "I Think I Lost My Headache" is probably my second favorite track, next to "Tension Head" (in case you couldn't tell). The only disappointment is that the last few minutes of the song degenerate into a monotonous horn section which plays the riff over and over and which definitely detracts from a song that has all the makings of a magnum opus. I would have preferred if Mr. Homme and crew would have continued the song's guitar wizardry and flawless drumming through the end. So there you have it. 11 Songs with nearly as many genres. And 9 of the 11 are excellent songs. You must listen to this one several times before forming an opinion, however. Josh Homme cements his status a top-notch axeman despite Rated R's ironic dearth of actual soloing.
on March 14, 2004
I prefer Kyuss to Queens Of The Stone Age. They are heavier, have killer riffs, and had one of the best singers ever, John Garcia. This album, though, is just a plain good hard rock album. There are some experimental songs however, but for the most part, it's rocking. Feel Good Hit Of The Summer has the simplest riff known to man, and The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret is a good drug-induced rocker. Leg Of Lamb is a weird one, but it manages to be catchy. Auto Pilot could be the pop single if not for the lead guitar breaks. Better Living Through Chemistry is the one that sticks out against the rest. Pschyadelic stoner rock is the best way to describe it. It starts out with tribal drums, then an interesting riff played by Josh Homme, then it completly stops for a completely different riff. Quite interesting. Monsters In The Parasol is a quirky rocker about..I don't know what it's about. Quick And To The Pointless has the almighty Nick Oliveri screaming his lungs out to a paranoid punk song. In The Fade reminds me of Screaming Trees. Probably because Mark Lanegan is singing on it. There's another Oliveri scream-punk song before the calmest song on the album, Mountain Song, kicks in. Then there is the absoulte weirdest song on the Cd, I Think I Lost My Headache. A cross between Monster Magnet, Fu Manchu, and John Coltrane. Seriously. A good album, not up to par with Kyuss, but still quite interesting.
on August 17, 2000
Before picking up this CD I really had no idea who these guys were. The only reason I knew the name was from seeing it under "People that purchased this title also bought. . ." while surfing through Amazon. I found it on a listening station under staff picks in a record store one day and gave it a listen. It blew me away. This is not a band that is afraid to experiment and use creativity in their music. "Autopilot" sounds like a song straight out of the 60s or 70s, I just wish I could think of the song that it reminds me of. "The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret" is my favorite track on the album, which may have been released as a single, I did hear it on the radio one time. I also really like "Better Living Through Chemistry." Everythink on this album is great. The differing beats keep you in the songs, and interested in them, even in the eight minute plus "I Think I Lost My Headache." The best thing about this album is the variety of musical styles and intruments, everything from bari sax to steel drums. After this welcome surprise of an alumb I will likely be looking into their first studio album, as well as EPs and Kyuss's four studio albums. There is no other group to compare these guys to. They have a refreshing originality not often found anymore.
on July 7, 2000
I have listened to Rated R repeatedly just hoping I could learn to love it as much as the first one. But, I'm left with mixed feelings about this album. Most of the album I just can't get enough of. It's a very good album. The band is very experimental in nature. That is one of the things that makes this band great. But, I think there's just a little too much of that on this album. Sure, it's interesting the first time but it quickly turns monotonous and irritating. Half of the album is excellent and definitely worth buying. That's not my major gripe though. If you are a stoner rock fan or a Kyuss fan, you may find a major flaw in the album - it doesn't rock. It has it's moments, but if you compare this to Kyuss, Unida, or the first QOTSA, it sounds like stoner pop.