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Queens of the Stone Age-In Times New Roman
Queens of the Stone Age-In Times New Roman
Queens of the Stone Age-In Times New Roman

Album Review: Queens of the Stone Age Return to Their Sludge Coated Origins with “In Times New Roman”

Joshua Homme will always surface after the tides subside. This is a man known for so many musical expeditions, it’s surprising there isn’t a recording device named after him. After Kyuss dissolved, Josh leaned to making Queens of the Stone Age, which has been the bar for post grunge, desert/stoner rock. He was whisked away by Dave Grohl and legendary Zeppelin bassist for a successful supergroup-Them Crooked Vultures. He had a side project called Eagles of Death Metal with Jesse Hughes. It is Midas’ Touch that he has, except it exudes sludge and riffery. Now, he processes grief, pain and separation through the latest release of his mainstay. This is In Times New Roman, the eighth full length studio effort by QOTSA. 

After battling a hellish split from Brody Dalle and custody battles, embroiled with restraining orders-this became just one of his few problems. Josh Homme also revealed that he battled cancer, while telling Revolver magazine that these were “the worst few years of his life”. It shows, nay, is emblazoned on this album how he has processed all this pain through his music. 

Josh Homme rounds the revellers

Queens of the Stone Age are known for a certain kind of groovy riff tailoring that serves as a decent patch of LSD at a Phish concert. The layers are to be heard separately, and that is what happens on the opening track, Obscenery. The bass and guitars tango, a sound that you might have not heard since 2007 in their acclaimed Era Vulgaris. Homme’s love for phasing guitars and falsetto vocals is crisp, distinct and a huge step away from the dance rock album they released last. Though Villains required Mark Ronson to kick it to dance club vibes, Mark Rankin turns the keys a bit here. It leads to a deeper, heavier sound-which fans may even liken to Rated R. 

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Almost a direct aim at the ex, Paper Machete brings that effective rhythm making QOTSA are famous for. Garage rock was their forte, The White Stripes and this band always brought a “yeah, I guess I can play this” air to their music. You think you’re brave? All the plans you made, Behind my back and from far away?, Truth is, face to face, you’re a coward, Sharp as a paper machete. Homme keeps the rabbit punches a bit literal, as he sees fit here. It leads to one of the catchiest, danci-est tracks on the whole album. When it debuted, Negative Space was the funk groove you wanted to be. Boston Calling 2023 seemed to enjoy it, and it’s your standard hot chocolate fudge on the album.

It’s rock, but there’s the rage as well

Time and Place has a signal tricking, time-signature play that makes you wait for the whole rhythm. It has one of my favourite bass lines applied, the Micheal Shuman effect is on full display. You’ll hear some cool effects, and it just shows Matador Records are happy to have the desert rock legend on board. Queens of the Stone Age give you a memorable hook with Made to Parade-ironing out their approach to licks and Homme’s very public split. As we approach Carnavoyeur, a memorable YouTube comment comes to mind. An anonymous persona wrote, “Brody Dalle is the best thing to happen to QOTSA”. Listening to these lyrics, that might be true. “There’s no reason to cry, Just fade away, like love, Clutching, hanging by a nail in this life, Desperate always, always looks that way…” Josh Homme utilises the ghostly synth echoes to make one of the darkest moments of his life come to the creative aid. 

What The Peephole Say is like the reaction to the wordplay. A quick, upbeat track-but tends to sound like filler after a heavy song like Carnavoyeur. You could dance to it, maybe if another dance track played before its bluesy core. The one-two between Troy and Josh is a highlight, however. Queens of the Stone Age make something groovy like the stomp that is Sicily. The falsetto guides you through the droning bass and scratching background. When the cinematic riff comes, it is for your horror-thriller trailer. In this case, that would be what Homme has processed into this album. 

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If it pains, better press it on vinyl

Like he mentioned to NME, it isn’t that you decide to make a record as time comes. What you’re going through inevitably becomes what you’re thinking about. Given the circumstances, these musicians seemed to have churned out enough content worth applause while battling sorrow after sorrow. Whether you were a fan of But Here We Are by Foo Fighters, you must recognise the turmoil massive bands like these must be going through. But hey, you chose the stage-so better plaster a smile, Homme. 

The first single release from the album, Emotion Sickness, comes next. Easily, the two strongest songs on the album close a record to remember, along with hopefully a shitty chapter in Josh Homme’s life. The riffs, the lyrics, the effects and memories are all a bit much to revisit every time-and maybe heavier in a single flow. Though some misses exist, Homme fires up Queens of the Stone Age out of a six-year slumber to some of their best, heaviest work in a decade. Straight Jacket Fitting uses the excess treble and crashes for a sludgy, blues parade. The 9 minute epic ends with an acoustic shift that counters the energy of the rage, to something that lets it all go. 

Maybe Josh wasn’t ready for some of the lowballs that hit him, but nobody is. He still gathers the twigs to craft a crown only he can look good wearing. Heavy is the head that wears the crown. Be glad the dapper desert debonair wears it.

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Self professed metalhead, moderately well read. If the music has soul, it's whole to me. The fact that my bio could have ended on a rhyme and doesn't should tell you a lot about my personality.

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