Review Summary: Kyuss Streamlined
In the world of underground heavy metal, Kyuss was the definitive Stoner metal / Desert rock band, crafting two of the finest of the genre with "Blues for the Red Sun and Welcome to Sky Valley. "...And the Circus Leaves Town" was their 4th and final studio album, and one can kind of see why.
It was clear at this point that most of the songwriting had shifted considerably towards guitarist Josh Homme, as the co-writer, drummer and founder of the band, Brant Bjork, left after Welcome to Sky Valley. This changed the dynamics, as now the songs tended to gravitate more towards a straight-forward sound as opposed to the open, spacey jams of the previous albums. With this, Kyuss feels a bit gated on this album, a bit too tight. And while this works for songs like Hurrican or One Inch Man, it doesn't work for much of the rest of the album. Songs either build up to very little, or just feel like they need to stretch out a lot more. Most of the psychedelic influences are still there, but they're far more contained than before, and cause of this, the album never really soars, it just plugs along. Some songs have defiantly heavy grooves, and some of the songs work in their concise forms, but it just doesn't quite feel like Kyuss on this album. Even on the epic sized closer Spaceship Landing (their longest song even) doesn't really ebb and flow in different directions so much as just stomp along, heavy as the fattest man alive. It feels too segmental, too blocky in it's construction, and that's the real problem with the album; it simply doesn't flow organically like their previous albums.
But that doesn't make it a bad album. Kyuss are still the only band that really have this special sort of sound, and this album is still a very unique listen that is still very rewarding.