ALBUM REVIEW: Queens of the Stone Age return ‘…Like Clockwork’

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First Posted: 6/3/2013

It has been six years since “Era Vulgaris,” the last Queens of the Stone Age album. But it’s not like frontman and co-founder Josh Homme has just been sitting around in the interim. He worked on Eagles of Death Metal’s third album in 2008, and he formed the supergroup Them Crooked Vultures with Dave Grohl and John Paul Jones. That band’s recording and touring schedule took up most of 2009 and 2010. Still, it’s been quite a while since we’ve heard from the Queens, and “…Like Clockwork” (ironic album title fully intended by the band) is a welcome return.
The album’s first single, “My God is the Sun,” continues the band’s tradition of releasing some of its hardest rocking tracks as singles. The song begins with a simple but distinctive riff, split between Homme and fellow guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen and accentuated at the end by Dave Grohl’s hard-hitting snare drum beats. After about 10 seconds of this, the guitars divide into harmonies and Grohl shifts to a driving beat and the song really takes off.
Yet nothing else on “…Like Clockwork” uses that same “full speed ahead” style. Album opener “Keep Your Eyes Peeled” is a slow, crunchy jam with a low, low end, squalling guitars, and wailing vocals.
The rest of “…Like Clockwork” comprises muscular hard rock songs that are right in the band’s wheelhouse. “If I Had a Tail” is a punchy track with a majorly heavy chorus and a hell of a backbeat, courtesy of Grohl. “Fairweather Friends” is Homme’s version of an all-star jam session, featuring not just Grohl on drums but Elton John on piano. Backing vocals come courtesy of John, Trent Reznor, frequent collaborator Mark Lanegan, and the band’s former bassist Nick Oliveri. Despite all the star power, though, the song is still dominated by Homme’s lead vocals and distinctive guitar work, which keeps it from being a glaring aberration on an otherwise cohesive album.
Queens of the Stone Age ‘…Like Clockwork’ Rating: W W W W