Sometimes, even from just the first listen of an album, you know it’s a stroke of pure genius and imagination. It’s just perfection in every which way, it seriously owns face to put it simply, and nothing like it can hold a candle to it. It’s incredibly mindful, weary and honest, non-pretentious, and incredibly easy to get into. Josh Homme created this kind of master piece on Rated R. Perfectly accessible and excuted without fail, Rated R nails the mainstream rock platform to a T, without the usual pitfalls of many of these bands. AS well with that, it includes Joshua Homme’s and Nick Olveri’s songwriting duet at their absolute best, with an incredibly wide range of songs and ideas, matched together in perfect harmony and flow. None of the albums that followed Rated R could compare to it in sheer amazingness. Songs for the Deaf is like this album in many ways, but suffers from the pitfall of filler and just a lack of change from Rated R. Lullabies to Paralyze and Era Vulgaris? Don’t make me laugh, those albums just sounds like jumbled, half-inspired always-too-radio-ready hard rock in comparison to this. Even the album before this, Queens of the Stone Age, just felt inexperienced and unready. The fact of the matter is, Rated R is just the goddamn best of Josh Homme and friends.
The album starts off the anthemic hard rocker “Feel Good Hit of the Summer”. It’s nothing instrumentally amazing, or even too great in any sense of the instrumentation, but it delivers god damn well that you don’t need the most complicated instrumental work to have a great damn song. Full of energy life, “Feel Good Hit of the Summer” gives you everything you need to know in a few simple words ”Nicotine, Valium, Vicodin, Marijuana, Ecstasy and Alcohol”
. After this feel good hit, we start getting serious. “The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret” is hooky, straight-forward and humorous, pretty much everything you could want from a Qotsa song. Straight up hard rock riffs dominate the song, while sludgy, crunchy riffs rule in the closer, transcending into the experimental “Leg of Lamb”. “Leg of Lamb” is somewhat comparable to a song in the bands later discography, “I’m Designer” off Era Vulgaris. The major difference between the two songs is, however, the simple fact that “Leg of Lamb” is just that much more inspired sounding. As good as “I’m Designer” sounds at times, it feels too mechanical, and relies too much on the dark production of Era Vulgaris, whereas “Leg of Lamb” thrives simply off songwriting, and nothing else, with a swaying pull-on pull-off riff and the witty lyrics of Joshua Homme.
The album just gets even better from there. From the constantly building “Better Living through A Chemistry”, starting with an ambient introduction that leads to Joshua Homme’s emotional vocals. It’s done in a somewhat droning tone yes, but it works off of that, and gives the song a certain subdued feeling. “Monster in the Parasol” is a halt back to the heavier riffing of the beginning, but Joshua Homme pulls a rabbit out of his hat and gives us an absolutely mesmerizing and hypnotic riff in the pre-chorus and pulls some strings for a back up vocalist to gives a creepy back-up vocal in the chorus, with this monstrous whisper coming from the background. After “Quick and to the Pointless”, a track laid out for the always wacky and frantic Nick Olveri, we get to “In The Fade”, the first and only real ballad on the album. Heartfelt and beautiful, it transcends from quiet riffing and monotone vocals to what could be the greatest rock ballad climax of the twenty-first century, with crippled bluesy singing and stoner the usual stoner riffing from Homme, but with a certain touch that gives it an emotional feel. “In The Fade” comes out as one of the albums better songs easily.
After another short crazy Nick Oliveri interlude, with the better of the duo “Tension Head”, if only because it lacks the cheer-leader vocals in the chorus of “Quick and to the Pointless”, it shows Nick at his most angry and rage-filled. His mid-pitched, cocaine screams calculate with Homme’s crunchy riffing style and create a distorted pit of anger. It’s better than I make it sound, really. It’s the one song that you need to listen to if you’re ***ing pissed off (if you lost your Converge album). After a pointless interlude that resembles Opeth’s “Atonement”, multi-textural and dreamy, yet dreary and dull at nearly two minutes. Luckily, the song doesn’t overstay its welcome too much, and the wave of good luck continues on “I Think I Lost My Headache”. Trudging and slow in its beginning, it pushes along with steel drums in the background, while fittingly muddy riffs slowly push along. Again, like with “Run Pig Run” of Era Vulgaris, this song builds to a climax , with riffs being sped up to the point of incredibly fast riffs run wild in chaos as a pseudo-drum solo occurs, as opposed to the reverse climax of “Run Pig Run”, which has merely a slow, twenty second doom solo. This all halts and the album ends on a noisy tumpet solo which ultimately makes the album feel finished.
Does this album have any flaws? Unless you count a two minute interlude enough of a ‘flaw’ to down grade the album from a 5 to 4.5, not really. Is this Queens of The Stone Age’s best album? Absolutely! The songs are, as a whole, better and less grading than anything Homme has done and less self-indulgent than of his later works as well. Does this album just click in one listen? I’d think so, it’s catches you like a fishing hook to your ear, and it also lasts long, which probably answers the next question. Is it a classic? If you’ve read the review to this point, you will know that it is of course worth of the five star rating according to me. Just to finished the review on a threatening note, much like the noisy yet fitting solo of “I Think I Lost My Head Ache” , if you haven’t already listened to it, or if you have and think it is below a 4, you have no soul.