The years since QOTSA’s previous album, 2007’s ‘Era Vulgaris’, have been a less-than-easy time for the band. But founding frontman Josh Homme’s approach to it was: “I can run away from this, or I can run into it.” Thankfully he opted for the latter.
A breakdown and shake-up in the Californian crew has been at the root of the trauma, although Homme has always been the focal point. As such, studio album number six doesn’t veer too far away from Queens’ proven formula.
Dave Grohl sits on the drum stool again for the most part, providing a solid base to the band’s sound – although the prominence of new bassist, Michael Shuman, should equally be underscored.
Homme’s guitar work remains proficient and is clearly the thrust behind both the band and its arrangements. Still flaunting in the grunge realm, the overall result is tough, yet accessible, including some deeper moments. Homme’s vocal style shifts well into the slower numbers, very reminiscent of the aforementioned drummer.
Elsewhere there’s a determined drive, and a drift towards stoner-rock. The end product is born out of some sterling songwriting, as ever.
A number of significant others pop up to assist proceedings, including Trent Reznor, Alex Turner, Mark Lanegan and the volunteered services of a certain Sir Elton John. All provide shades of grey in a colourful venture that bears the QOTSA’s trademark throughout and keeps them at the top of their game.
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