Friday, March 11, 2011


Eerily appropriate time to revisit this 1997 mainstay, as Kyuss have reformed without Josh Homme (what's the fucking point?) and Queens are busy rereleasing pretty much everything in their back catalogue since they're so "influential." This was a very cool split on the mighty Man's Ruin Records, whose releases i collected religiously (many of which i no longer have because of financial constraints at various times in my life after 1997) and whose releases i held in equally religious esteem. The coolest thing about this, as i remember, was that it was the last Kyuss material recorded before they broke up and the newest material available from Josh Homme's new-at-the-time project QOTSA. Back in 1997 the Kyuss material was flooring to me but reevaluating it now leads to me to describe it as lacking at best. I like that they covered "Into the Void" but their midsection is so fucking lame and Jack Johnson level mellow that it pretty much ruins the power of the original. If there's anyone who should have covered Sabbath it's Kyuss but to bastardize "Into the Void" to the point where it becomes "groovy" is just error on every conceivable level. The remaning two tracks fare a little better, a two part suite titled "Fatso Forgotso" boasting some traditional Kyuss style desert ambiance and distance alongside the roaring overload of Homme and Reeder's massively bass-heavy attack. On these tracks the wasteoid jamming works, conveying the feeling of drift and astral float that Kyuss got to at their best, turned into ultra-primal sandblasted aggression by piece's end. As usual John Garcia was in top form here, cementing his reputation as metal's most underrated and under-featured vocalist, seeming all the more shameful that his present day career has been reduced to singing for Kyuss wannabe acts and organizing glory day revivals minus the sound's true originator.
And this is where that sound first sprung to life. QOTSA here are little more than Kyuss light, three songs of experiment that were probably destined for inclusion on a Kyuss album at some point, but everyone has to start somewhere. Homme started remarkably close to home (ha ha!) with these three career sunrisers, previewing his band as asome sort of heavy but slightly off-kilter behemoth capable of all the rage Kyuss ever was but possessed of something slightly more reflective and coy, an answer to his former band's complete and total belligerence in the face of metal convention. There was absolutely nothing dangerous about QOTSA here, nothing even remotely menacing, and i believe Homme recognized this bland existence and began to temper accordingly, turning in future paeans to drugs and empty headed "deep desert thought" that would culminate in the monster recording "Songs for the Deaf" a few years later. Here, QOTSA flounder alongside their birthing unit, sounding totally outmatched and dwarfed by the raw (but cheesy) power Kyuss was shoveling out. Don't get me wrong- i still love Kyuss, and "Songs for the Deaf" is a still a near sacrosanct piece of headbanging drug-revering audial waste-it's simply the years have revealed how young i really was when i was buying into this shit and how much i've come to demand from artists. As documentary and nostalgia this is near priceless, almost as close to my heart as "In Utero", but as a record of its own merit it falls a little flat. Both bands have done much, much better.

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