The Queens Of The Stone Age have been away for too long. Six years to be precise. But of course that didn’t mean Josh Homme, the gargantuan leader of the eclectic heavy rockers, was sat in the Californian desert twiddling his thumbs.
Since their last record Era Vulgaris, Josh and his Palm Springs compadres have been keeping busy with a varied amount of projects. Homme has not only recorded and produced Arctic Monkeys’ Humbug in 2008, but also managed two albums with his other bands Eagles Of Death Metal and the immense super line up that is, Them Crooked Vultures.
Which brings me to their sixth record …Like clockwork released in June. From the way they approached this album it was clear this was not just a standard release; QOTSA brought an art movement with it. After littering snippets across the Internet with British artist Boneface, they created a video trail that built into a five-part story. Each day between May 14th/20th the band released a new dark and twisted animated video that eventually developed into a cryptic, short film. The feel of the album was certainly taking shape.
The main influence to contour the music was the darkest period in the band’s ongoing journey. Homme, forced into knee surgery in 2010 momentarily died on the operating table. This resulted in four months of bedridden anguish in the hospital, which subsequently dragged Homme down a spiral of depression and loathing. He quotes: ‘I was hoping that playing the first record would really inspire me to fall in love with music again. But I was just lost, looking for something in the dark. In the Dark I found …Like clockwork’.
The two main emotions of confusion and despair really make the album leap out of the speakers and immerse inside the listener. My personal stand out track ‘I Appear Missing’ is a six-minute rock masterpiece that opens up the world that had been suffered in. A calling to all coma’s.
“The chorus evolves and the lyrics ‘shock me awake, tear me apart, pinned like a note in a hospital gown’ seem to linger in the sub conscious”
In contrast the first single, ‘My God Is The Sun’ is a huge track. With more beef stocked up inside than a steroid filled burger being eaten by Stone Cold Steve Austin it’s an explosion from start to finish.
This track, a dispatch to every sun dwellers ears that forcefully plants it as their main hymn when praying to the big yellow chap in the sky. The album is given necessary breaks with ambient tracks like ‘Kalopsia’ and ‘The vampyre of time and memory’ and also comes to one of the finer climax’s I have heard with album titled track ‘…Like clockwork’.
Overall, it may be slightly unfair not to mention every track on the record, simply because there isn’t a poor or ‘half decent album track’ lurking in the midst of big singles and slow burners. It’s quite a godsend when that album comes along and there is no place for a skip in its 45:59 journey. With only 10 tracks residing it leaves the imagination thinking there is another huge trick up the desert rockers sleeve.
It always seemed obvious where the album would be projected; with its impressive cast of featuring musicians. Alex Turner, Dave Grohl, John Theodore and even old bassist Nick Oliveri gave hand; the main star though was Elton John who actually telephoned Homme to be part of the project.
It’s clear to see that with the mountain of a task that was set to the band, they have emerged as true champions with a potent message to everyone who believes in the same dream. I for one have been taken away and shaken with my beliefs. To what seemed a desolate industry in a struggle against good and evil, right and wrong I couldn’t have been looking further away.
It’s safe to say this is one of those spectacular albums I’ll be one day handing to a younger generation; with my catheter and pipe I’ll mutter those tragic but honest words ‘this is real music son’.