Queens of the Stone Age - Era Vulgaris
Paul Cook 13/06/2007
Heavier and frightfully more paranoid in soundscape, Era Vulgaris is one the one hand a shift in style and tone for QOTSA. On the other hand it is a complete disappointment. Their music takes a certain taste and mood to enjoy and unfortunately it must be said, from the start the new album is rather unoriginal and wholly monotonous.
Starting with the overly distorted shredder 'Turnin' on the Screw' QOTSA start promisingly as it's a quite enjoyable, solo-sweet track with enough floating vocals to get you in the mood instantly for the rest of the album. The only let down is the unimaginative drum beat that pounds away in the background, unchanging and annoying. Following this is The Foo Fighters' 'All My Life.' Oh no sorry, it's just the almost identical 'Sick Sick Sick.' Whether it's intentional by pure coincidence 'Sick Sick Sick' is so similar to The Foo Fighters' 2002 smash heavy-rock hit that the difference can only be told by the chorus, the QOTSA one being the less impressive. The tempo, tone, distortion and even the stresses and syllables of the vocals are hard to tell apart in the first 30 seconds and where 'All My Life' steps up a gear into a heavy, mesmerizing power chorus, 'Sick Sick Sick' dies away into a forgettable and lifeless track very unlike a QOTSA single.
The album favourite '3's and 7's' is an instantly likeable and catchy track with a soaring tempo and ripping guitar rhythm that's immediately recognisable as a Queens of the Stone Age track. The guitars do all the work here and don't disappoint. Again the drums feel a little pointless and underused but the vocals and melody carry this song to the top drawer of the album without question. Unfortunately not many of the other tracks match this standard. Many are deep and mysterious in tone which is acceptable the first few times but when you listen to six or seven of the same, the depression starts to set in.
'Run, Pig, Run' is heavy jackass of a song and really doesn't get going until your two minutes in and bored of the track already. 'Running Joke' follows and is a song of gentle, distant curiosity. The bass-line and drums conjure a brooding, foreboding creation. The album finishes on the title track 'Era Vulgaris' which is a bit shaky in it's pace and rhythm, constantly changing and never settling into a steady rocker or speedy heavy track. Aside from the interesting cover art and psychedelic colours 'Era Vulgaris' is yet another album thrown from the slippery downward slope of modern rock music.
All in all, a great shame that Queens of the Stone Age have not followed up their previously pleasing albums with another. 'Era Vulgaris' is a mixed bag of heavy, mysterious guitars and lack lustre drum bashing that results in a number of likeable tracks but nothing that make them stand out from some of today's very average bands.