Released: March 22nd, 2005 (Regular and Special Edition with DVD available)
Josh Homme – Vocals, Guitar, Bass Guitar
Dan Druff – Bass Guitar, Guitar, Backup Vocals
Troy Van Leeuwen – Guitar, Lap-Steel Guitar, Backup Vocals
Joey Castillo – Drums and Percussion
Mark Lanegan – Vocals (“This Lullaby"), Backup Vocals (“Burn the Witch")
Billy Gibbons – Lead Guitar (“Burn the Witch")
Brody Dalle – “Sultry" Backup Vocal (“You’ve Got a Killer Scene")
Shirley Manson - “Sultry" Backup Vocal (“You’ve Got a Killer Scene")
Something old, something new.
The fourth Album from Alternative icons Queens of the Stone Age was held to a high standard the moment the buzz around it began. Following 2002’s “Song’s For the Deaf" was no easy task, considering the mainstream breakthrough album for the band was also considered one of the best Alternative albums in recent memory.
“Lullabies to Paralyze" is a mixed bag of tricks. With Bass Player and long time cohort Nick Oliveri gone, limited appearances from fan favorite Mark Lanegan and Dave Grohl permanently replaced by Joey Castillo, things have changed, and yet some have stayed the same or gone in reverse. So with that, the question that remained was whether or not Josh Homme could effectively take the reigns on his own. He did so quite well. “Lullabies to Paralyze" draws on the Queens’ style from their “Self-Titled" album, which was that of chunky, straightforward riffage and hypnotizing vocals. What’s new is their heavier, punkier influence, which becomes more prevalent now. Also new is their experiment with Blues (“Burn The Witch"), which is pulled off extremely well, and some slightly progressive elements (“Someone’s In The Wolf").
Track by Track Review:
This Lullaby – (1:21)
Mark Lanegan starts the album off on a haunting down-note in this short, sweet, and enjoyable vocal/guitar number. Lanegan does what he does best (besides growling): sounding poetic and subtly frightening at the same time.
Medication – (1:53)
In traditional Queens fashion, this track is a complete opposite to the one before it. Homme takes Vocals again, and rips right into a punky, straightforward song reminiscent of tracks such as “Regular John" from the S/T album. The song is a little repetitive, but is short enough that it won’t bother you. It’s a fun, catchy track and sets the stage for one of the albums many faces.
Everybody Knows That You’re Insane – (4:14)
This song starts off with a fluid, half-time feeling and a traditional QotSA guitar “solo." Fans will know exactly what this means. The song flows for about a minute, before launching into another fast paced, riff-driven track, speeding up considerably. The lyrics are quite good, painting a picture of an isolated, hopeless insane person. Once again the riff, combined with Homme’s unique vocal style, makes it catchy and fun, but the track still maintains a tough edge.
Tangled Up In Plaid – (4:12)
A more abstract number, drawing on “No One Knows" in a sort of way, “Tangled Up In Plaid" starts with some Wind Chimes and moves into a chunky verse at a moderate tempo. The track sounds promising in the first couple of minutes, but gets a little repetitive. However, in the last minute the band catches you again with a good Guitar Solo and lovely bridge topped off by an appropriately abrupt finish.
Burn The Witch – (3:33)
Without a doubt the best track on the album, unless you absolutely despise any Blues influence. Lanegan backs up on vocals, and Troy Van Leeuwen plays Lap Steel Guitar. Billy Gibbons guest stars on Lead Guitar. The song is a period piece in a way, describing hypothetical events and emotions during the Witch Hunts. It quickly launches into a bluesy, shuffle riff, accompanied by great lyrics and Vocals from Homme and Lanegan. After two chorus,’ the band launches into a solo section, allowing Troy and Billy to show off a bit; fades to Black with Billy playing over the main riff. “Burn The Witch" is an addictive, well-written and great song.
In My Head – (3:59)
Another S/T influenced song, with a crisp, brand-new feeling. A straightforward, enjoyable riff, augmented by closely-following yet well-done leads sets this song on its course from opening to end. Homme’s lyrics and vocals are top notch again, singing a song about radio and the addictiveness of popular music. A commentary on the politics of the music world? Who knows? Good song nonetheless.
Little Sister – (2:53)
The first single off the album, “Little Sister" is a gritty, fast-paced, punk-influenced track.. The lyrics are a little vague, and I truly hope Homme isn’t singing about his real sister, but they are catchy nonetheless. Solid riffage augmented by traditionally QotSA leads is good, and the Bass makes an impression with a fuzzed, chorus-based sound. The song flows through this, and ends with a decent Solo.
I Never Came – (4:46)
Starting off almost like a generic rock song you’d hear on the radio, this track almost seems as such. It’s better than that, however, and has the bands trademark style in there. It’s more of a departure from their usual alternative fare, and dives into some mainstream clichés, but not without payoff. What results is a cool, solid track that functions as humour within a story of tragedy; a quick break from the scenario.
Someone’s In The Wolf – (7:13)
A slightly progressive track, “Wolf" sounds very promising at the start. A gritty, hard riff and some nice Vocal work get you into quite quick. However, this doesn’t change much, and gets repetitive very quickly. Sometimes it even gets boring hearing it again and again. However, credit is given to Homme for the effort, and the great Vocal work and great riffs. Were this song shorter or a carrier of more variety it would be one of the album’s best.
Blood is Love – (6:36)
“Blood is Love" starts with a carousel sort of riff, before launching into a dark, rough riff after about a minute. Worried by the result of “Someone’s In the Wolf," I was surprised at how well this track was pulled off. Probably the darkest song on the album, “Love" goes through a chorus, verse, chorus formula holding your attention snugly, before launching into a wicked, haunting bridge and solo in the last two minutes. Great vocal work once again, and a wonderful track.
Skin on Skin – (3:41)
Another abstract riff begins, and the song starts. Distorted, rough Vocals carry the song across another dark landscape, and the result is pleasing. The song carries this out to the mid-section, where a floppy, but interesting solo occurs, and then goes back to its main cliché’s to round it off. A decent track overall.
Broken Box – (2:59)
Finally returning to a more upbeat note, this track starts with an, oddly enough, boxy sort of riff. Fuzzy and catchy, the guitars drive the song into a nonchalant and catchy verse-chorus-verse format which is welcome after “Skin on Skin." In the second half the song gets a little deeper and the riffs better. The bridge and endpoint top off what is a surprisingly great song.
You’ve Got a Killer Scene There, Man… - (4:56)
Feeling like a walk through an ecstasy-fueled, smoky and exotic bar, “Killer Scene" is pulled off very well. Shirley Manson and current girlfriend of Homme, Brody Dalle, sing back up Vocals. This number is quite catchy, driven by Vocal work once again, with Homme singing on more of a down-note than usual, almost trying to sound like Mark Lanegan. He retains his own style, and does what Lanegan does well on top of it. Bluesy interjections are made by the Lead Guitar, and the track rounds out on a cool note.
Long Slow Goodbye – (6:48)
Starting on the same kind of tone as “I Never Came," “Long Slow Goodbye" starts out calm and almost generic, retaining what it is as a song, but slowly morphing into a more Queens styled track as it progresses. It’s a nice effort, cutting off around the four minute point, and slipping in some completely unrelated music towards the end, almost as a “secret track." A good finish to a great album.
A few blunders here and there fail to make this as great an album as 2002’s “Songs for the Deaf," but what comes out is a very good album which is perfect for regular fans, great for prospects and a well-written, well-done follow-up to the aforementioned album. “Lullabies to Paralyze" is more up than down, and is a must-have for any Alternative or Queens aficionado.
Overall rating: 4/5