Songs for the Deaf- Queens of the Stone Age

Release Year: 2002

Rating: 8/10

Queens of the Stone Age already had two previous albums before this 2002 release, but it’s this record that would put them in the public eye. The staples of a QOTSA album are all here: sick guitar riffs, Homme’s smooth voice, and awesome songs. There are great songs here including some of their best known songs, but there are a couple of little things that bring this album down. Either way, it’s still a kick ass album that will leave you in awe.

“You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar, but I Feel Like a Millionaire” opens the album with a lot of fierce energy. It should be noted that on this track the vocals are provided by Nick Oliveri, not Josh Homme. Because of Oliveri’s unchained screaming vocals the song definitely has a lot of attitude, but not being a huge fan of yelling, screeching vocals it gets old after a while. His style fits nicely with the song, but after a while all the screaming can really get to you, especially because the band is so talented they don’t these types of vocals to get by.

The next track is the well known “No One Knows.” It begins with the instantly recognizable guitar riff. It’s the type of riff that makes you break out the air guitar. Here Homme makes his first vocal appearance on the album. The way he’s singing during the chorus sounds like he’s performing an incantation or some sort of spell. Not only is the guitar great, the drumming is awesome too for one good reason: Dave Grohl. Grohl is the guest drummer on this album and his drumming is brutal and harsh on this track. He really gives it his all on the entire album. His bigger than life drumming brings a lot of attitude and volume to the record.

Another great track is “Song for the Dead.” Mark Lanegan of Screaming Trees fame sings on this track and his gruff, dirty vocals are perfect for the grimy tune. Homme provides the ethereal “ahhs” that occur in the background of the song and it adds a dark edge to it. The guitar here is also great. It does a mini- sliding riff after the drums and it adds an undeniable groove to the song. Every element from the vocals to the music gives off this grungy, dirty feeling to the song. One of the best tracks found here.

Some of the songs even play with dark imagery and subjects. The last two tracks “Song for the Deaf” and the hidden “Mosquito Song” both have disturbing imagery and are probably the darkest songs on the album. The first song has a sinister tone to it, especially when a gruff, hardened voice comes on and says “The blind can go get fucked/Lie beside the ditch/This halo round my neck/Has torn out every stitch.” The music of the latter song sounds like a lullaby, but when the singing begins this idea goes out the window. The song is really somber and Homme reinforces this idea with his soft, low singing. There’s even a pretty piano solo that gives the song a haunting tone. Though the songs differ from the others, they are still awesome tracks.

While all the songs are great there is one thing about them that gets tiring. Fake radio djs will often act as an interlude between some of the songs and they really get annoying after the first time you run into it. It seems really pointless and doesn’t add much to the album. Maybe it would be different if they added these interludes as their own separate tracks, but they are attached at the end of songs, so it makes it a bit more difficult to avoid them. The album stands well on its own without the radio interludes. They are funny at times, but otherwise they come across as weird.

What does make the songs so awesome are the vocals. Here, three different vocalist share the spotlight. I already mentioned Oliveri’s screaming style. The other two are Josh Homme and Mark Lanegan. Out of all three Homme is my favorite. His voice is a mixture of the sweet, the seductive and the sinister. He always sound so smooth on the songs he sings and his voice is infectious. It’s one of the reasons QOTSA are one of my favorite bands. It sounds like he’s trying to bed you while singing about really dark things. He also sounds great when he sings flasetto. Lanegan’s vocals aren’t bad either when they fit the song, but his vocals don’t seem to fit on the track “Another Love Song.”

The riff on this song is kick ass. It almost hypnotizes you, but Lanegan’s vocals fall flat here. He doesn’t really add anything to the song. They’re just sort of plain and easy to tune out. I think this song would’ve been better if Homme took over the vocals on this one. The different vocalists aren’t a bad idea and they add some flavor to the album, but I wonder if sticking with just one would’ve made the record tighter. But it’s interesting how it allows them to bounce around different styles of music on one album.

Just as with the other QOTSA albums, the guitar work on here is exceptional. There are exotic, Spanish influenced riffs and solos that go round and round until you get dizzy. It really shows off how talented Homme is with a guitar. If anything he should be recognized more for his unbelievable playing. The guitar playing sometimes feels like it was ripped from another era, mainly the 60’s and 70’s. And sometimes there’s a hint of blues tossed in like on the track “God is in the Radio.” The guitar playing is part of what makes these songs so epic.

Overall, I give this album 8/10. The songs are great and some of the band’s best known work is found here, but the weird radio interludes and constantly switching the vocalists really brings this album down. The music is great (as always) and will either have your head banging or leave you sitting in a trance. For anyone who hasn’t heard this album or doesn’t understand why the band is so popular you need to hear this record. Though the album is not perfect it still has some of their best work. This band really knows how to keep the listener entertained.

What’s your favorite track on the album? Do  you think the interludes are cool? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

 

 

 

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