Queens are Back From the Stone Age…Like Clockwork

like clockwork

Photo Courtesy of Last.fm

… Like Clockwork is Queens Of The Stone Age’s sixth studio album and a big comeback for the band.  Six years have passed since the previous album, Era Vulgaris, which is a long time for such a successful rock n’ roll band of today. But according to the press and Josh Homme’s personal confession, … Like Clockwork was close to being not recorded at all. Homme, the band’s frontman, singer and guitarist, had a what-was-supposed-to-be routine knee surgery which got complicated to the point that he barely got out off the operating table alive.

Being hospitalized for 13 days and bed-ridden for the next four months, Josh descended into a deep depression. He had no drive or will to make a new record, but the guys in the band forced him to. So that makes … Like Clockwork a rather personal record.  And it shows.

Joey Castillo, the band’s drummer for the past 10 years was cast out of the band, so it seemed like a nice opportunity for Josh to call his long-time friend, Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters, ex-Nirvana for those among you that don’t know…shame on you) to fill in. Grohl already played on Songs For The Deaf (2002), which was Queens Of The Stone Age’s most successful record which launched them to rock n’ roll stardom. There were some other guests on the album as well, like Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, Mark Lanegan and, um, Sir Elton John.

The most important question is, were those guests brought in to make a dull record become better – maybe as an advertisement or gimmick? No way! They made a great record even better. The most fascinating thing about … Like Clockwork is that the songs are so good. Arrangement-wise, everything is in its place and nothing sounds rushed. The record sounds a bit laid-back, but in a good way. There’s no wasted second on the album – it is somewhat busy sounding with all the details but not super-busy, you know?  Homme is such a good songwriter (he always was) it’s almost heartbreaking to hear him sing on the self-titled track that closes the album. Funny that the final track is not the one with Sir Elton John playing the piano behind Homme – Sir Elton plays on the track Fairweather Friends.

Like Clockwork

Photo Courtesy of Tumblr.com

Josh Homme is kind of a guitar hero. He played in Kyuss, the-mother-of-all-stoner bands that gained popularity only after the band broke up. He continued with his distinct guitar playing (a little bit of Sabbath, a little bit of Hendrix, a little bit of Billy Gibbons…according to him) with the Queens and made some stellar riffs.  I’m sure everybody who reads this knows the famous riffs that defined Go With The Flow, No One Knows or Little Sister.  But with … Like Clockwork, all that guitar wizardry is kinda left to the background because the songs needed a more lyrical approach.

My God Is The Sun is by far the heaviest track on the album, showing everything we love about the Queens. Thundering drums, heavy riffing, and the distinct vocal style of Josh.   Kalopsia is a laid back track with an epic chorus and the robotic riffs only Josh and the guys can make. The Vampyre Of Time And Memory is another piano driven ballad that’s not far from some Portishead songs, while Fairweather Friends might be the most captivating track on the album referring to friends past and present, guitar driven (just listen to the fuzzed out solo), and with those famous guests (well, friends) doing backing vocals. I Appear Missing is about the knee operation and Josh not being there for some time – the whole concept of the album is about the clock ticking, time passing and all of us getting older and perhaps a little bit wiser.

What’s also fascinating about … Like Clockwork is that Homme payed for all the studio expenses and recordings by himself. It’s a huge risk to take, but when the songs are this convincing, intimate and honest, you just can’t fail. And all the peeps across the globe can sense it. Go to see Queens Of The Stone Age live if you can, one of the last real rock n’ roll bands of today.

Listen to the full album of … Like Clockwork on YouTube! (Or you could just buy it at Amazon.com)

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