Review Summary: Nick Oliveri's near-solo album sounds much like one would expect, a fast upbeat album with disruptive rhythms and the singer's signature spastic vocals.
In 2002, Queens of the Stone Age released their quissessential hard rock masterpiece Songs For The Deaf. The record, as hailed by many, just flat out rocked. Altering between Joshua Homme's smooth vocals and grinding guitar and bassist Nick Oliveri's spastic vocals and on-stage nudity, the Queens were recongised as a fine balance between innovation and mainstream.
Almost five years later, and SFTD had given birth to two very different twins. The Queens' proceeding album, Lullabies to Paralyze, was more bluesy in sound and piloted almost exclusively by Homme, Oliveri having been ejected from the band. Some fans, however, were put off the by the lack of the hard rock edge that was signature to the bands sound. The softer tones and fairy-tale epics were not for everyone. For those wondering where the manic energy that Oliveri brought to the band wound up, they need look no further.
Nick Oliveri, past bass player for stoner rock giants Kyuss as well as QOTSA, takes on the central role for this album, providing the all of the main vocals and bass as well as guitar on all tracks. A multitude of other musicians appear to lend drums, guitar and backing vocals, including previous QOTSA members Dave Catching and Alfredo Hernandez.
The flaws of this album lie not in the ability of Oliveri as a musician, but as a songwritter or composer. While some tracks are standout rockers, others fall on their face. Like a Bomb
is a prime example of the latter. The would song sound a lot like the similarily titled Rage Against the Machine song if each member recieved a lobotomy prior to its recording. The guitar riffs are uncomfortable and jarring. The vocals alter between Daron Malakian-like croning and signature screaming. Thankfully, it is mostly uphill (or downhill" which ever one is better) from here. In fact the next track, All The Way Down
is possibly the best hard-driving rock song on the album. A driving tom-beat flows through the verses and Oliveri's voice is almost perfectly suited for the strained chorus.
Other highlights of the album include the title track, Sonic Slow Motion Trails
, with a fantastic beat on the drums and some of the most coherent lyrics on the album. So High
is a radio-ready number with a catchy guitar and a chorus that stays in your head for days. Lie Detector
is an oddity on the album. It's an edgy and moody track with rather cynical lyrics that explodes into each chorus. Oliveri doubles over his vocals, showing his diversity in vocal tones.
Some of the tracks have a much more punk-rock sound than anything previously done by Oliveri. Tracks like Life of Sin
and All Systems Go
feature blastbeats and standard,NOFX-like punk riffs. If you're a fan of that kind of music then this may be a welcome change. I, however, am not and found myself put off by these tracks, which unfortunately compose much of the later half of the album.
Two of the brightest gems on the album are, suprisingly, the slower songs. Take Me Away
has a repetition that is reminisent of QOTSA's Autopilot, and similar vocals by Nick as well. The track cruises at a medium pace with a clean guitar that has an almost Latino feel. The brief appearence of trumpets in the second chorus are a highlight, showing the quirkiness that Oliveri is capable of. The final listed track, Paper Thin
, drives like a standard rocker for the majority of the song. The only real difference is the softness and clarity of the vocals, and the speratic guitar soloing between the verses. After a few minutes of silence, the album finishes with a cover of the song Sam Hall
, which was last heard by the late great Johnny Cash. While a humourous listen for a little while, it really is an earsore and doens't amount to much more than a joke track, but so be it.
In closing, Nick Oliveri's debut isn't for everyone, not even for all fans of his previous projects. However, it is worth a listen and holds enough value to be worthy of a rock-fans CD rack, even if it stays at the back somewhere.
All The Way Down
Sonic Slow Motion Trails
Take Me Away