Review Summary: The split that presented a new sound to Alfredo Hernandez' and Joshua Homme's new band, while introducing a new band to the masses - the dutch stoner rock band, Beaver.
The years after the disbanding of Kyuss proved confusing times for the band's lead guitarist and main songwriter, Joshua Homme. As Kyuss was all he'd known, he toured as the second guitarist in the band Screaming Trees for less than a year.
Homme founded Queens of the Stone Age under the name 'Gamma Ray' in 1996, changing the name in 1997 after being threatened by lawsuit from the german band with the same name. Homme teamed up with former Kyuss drummer Alfredo Hernandez, some friends, most known from The Desert Sessions, and started recording songs for a demo. In 1997, Queens of the Stone Age released three songs in a split with Kyuss.
The split ep was released in 1998 on the record label Man's Ruin Records a few days before their eponymous debut album. This time, the band, consisting of the the two full time members got together with some old friends from Holland. The stoner band Beaver was not unknown to fans of Queens of the Stone Age and Kyuss, as they had toured with Kyuss before. Homme was also known for contributing to the song 'Green' for their album released in 1997, while the rythm section in Beaver joined in for '18 A.D'. Alfredo and Josh recorded their two songs on April Fool's Day between 12:00 and 12:17 pm at Monkey Studios in Palm Springs, while Beaver recorded their two songs at Via Ritmo Studios in Rotterdam, fall the same year. The name of Beaver's songs was switched on the album for some reason (on the CD at least).
'The Bronze' starts off with an hawaiian sound which remain during the whole song. The riff effictively collaborate with the sliding guitar, and with Josh's controlled and clear voice, creates a feeling of being a space cowboy. Alfredo's drumming really shows off his talent on this track as he is following the riff, marking a rhythm with the snare drum (for a better example, look up 'Thee ol' Boozeroony' by Kyuss). Using tension builders to keep up the interest, the song ends with Homme singing 'The more you've found,
the less you've been around' in such an oustanding end and musical greatness, that the words will follow you in your dreams for years to come.
The second song is a fine example of the band's definition of robot rock. 'These Aren't the Droids You're Looking For' is an instrumental pointing a finger directly to the band's debut album. Robot rock. The riff, going mechanically, like played in the Baroque period, is played scaling up and down, while the drums pound along the guitar and bass. The bass is a little too much in the backround sometimes, but is otherwise keeping a steady control of the song while the guitar keeps bursting licks and hitting chords which sometimes is reminding of flies buzzing around your head. The song is quite interesting, and is a great example of what robot rock really is. As the riff goes on, you may suddenly find yourself tapping your feet or fingers in a trance dreaming about robots.
Now it's Beaver's turn. The first song out is 'Morroco', which is one of Beaver's hit songs. A tension builder kick the listeners into a stoner wall consisting of the bass and guitar moving back and forth while Roel Schoenmakers' voice starts singing his lyrics of the universe and the journey of life. His voice fits perfect into the music, giving an original sound. The drummer, Eva Nahon (Yes, she is a girl) is very skillful, and may be compared to Alfredo on how she plays. After Roel is done singing, the song keeps on in a long jamming, which get to a point where it's too much. Other than that, it's a great song.
Last song, but not to forget: 'Absence Without Leave'. This song is the band's masterpiece. The guitars does most of the job on this song, playing chords in a magnificent mixture providing an unique atmosphere filled with longing like this was the band's final song on earth. The drums and bass are mostly in for the rhythm. Though the bass spices up the sound a bit, it follows the guitars most of the time. Roel's voice is just where he should be, giving the song just the very edge with his sad lyrics. 'Absence Without Leave' is stoner rock at it's most beautiful, and it is really an underestimated part of the genre.
Homme once stated that Beaver was his favourite euro-rock band, and there is no shame in that. Beaver has a personal sound that is easy to recognize and hard to copy. A few years later, Beaver disappeared alongside with Man's Ruin's closure. Even today, Beaver is still remembered, though mostly via the collaboration with Queens of the Stone Age and Homme. The split will always be standing as a milestone in stoner rock history, as the two bands fit perfectly together. If Beaver returns to the stage, further collaboration with Homme will be highly appreciated. While the band got a lot of international press, people started recognize Queens of the Stone Age as an independent band, not that much influented by Kyuss as their previously recorded songs. Homme did it again.