Queens of the Stone Age is an alternative rock band from the California desert. Especially known for heavy sound and memorable guitar riffs, they have been a success since their 2000 breakout album, “Rated R.” In their next album, “Songs for the Deaf,” Queens of the Stone Age attained even more popularity and critical acclaim. However, after releasing their fifth album, “Era Vulgaris” in 2007, the band went dormant after some serious injuries to lead singer Josh Homme and side projects by guitarist Troy Van Leeuwan and bassist Michael Shuman. But with the release of 2013’s “… Like Clockwork,” Queens of the Stone Age was revived. The album contains the single “My God Is the Sun” and features former band members like bassist Nick Oliveri, drummer Dave Grohl, and vocalist Mark Lanegan – and even some backing performances by Elton John, Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys), and Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails).
The biggest success of “… Like Clockwork” is the fact that Queens of the Stone Age was able to draw from past albums while moving in a new direction. Unlike their former work, “… Like Clockwork” feels depressed and emotional yet offers the dark, heavy guitars and desert sound you expect from them.
The dropped tuning that helped create the band’s signature thick guitar sound is present in “Keep Your Eyes Peeled,” while the excellent drumming of Dave Grohl is reminiscent of “Songs for the Deaf.” The production on this album is outstanding and takes the band’s sound down a new path. The addition of Dean Fertita on backing keyboards and guitar adds depth and layers woven into each song. This is especially noticeable on “I Sat by the Ocean,” where three harmonizing guitars can be heard. While the album is more emotional, it offers impressive riffs and catchy hooks.
With a variety of moods, “… Like Clockwork” creates an emotional roller coaster for listeners, peaking with upbeat songs like “If I Had a Tail” and “Smooth Sailing” and plummeting to sad, lethargic tracks like “The Vampyre of Time and Memory” and “… Like Clockwork.” The use of slide guitar produces heart-wrenching melodies.
The band branched out in this album, using backing synthesizers and even string arrangements to create moving pieces. The lyrics reflect on singer Homme’s near-death experience in lines like “I play as though I’m all right” and “can one so lost be found?” The cohesion and emotion of this album bring it to excellence.
Despite its brilliance, a few flaws exist. The most noticeable is the slow pace. Yet, except for the monotonous bass in “Keep Your Eyes Peeled,” no song is too dull to bear. In addition, the album feels tame compared to its predecessors, since the departure of Nick Oliveri and his insane vocals.
The album will appeal to teens and adults alike as its emotional side is relatable to all. Heavy rock enthusiasts may be disappointed at the relative calm compared to previous albums, but will none the less enjoy the excellent riffs and desert-rock sound.
“… Like Clockwork” was critically acclaimed and nominated for Best Rock Album and Best Engineered Album in 2013. The Associated Press ranked it second on the list of best albums for that year, and it topped the charts upon its release. Drawing upon classic Queens of the Stone Age sounds while still moving in a new direction, “… Like Clockwork” is a stand-out album.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.