Since the demise of Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age have been stoner-rock standard-bearers, the lit Beatles to everyone else's dim Dave Clark Five. On its 1998 full-length debut, QOTSA demonstrated Josh Homme's desire to move beyond Kyuss' lengthy song cycles and craft heavy but hooky rock that at times sounded like ZZ Top stepping on its beards. By the band's second album, Rated R, QOTSA had become something of a heavy-rock space camp, with Screaming Trees' Mark Lanegan and Barrett Martin and members of the Dwarves filling out the band quota. By album three, last year's Songs for the Deaf, Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl and Ween's resident Dean had hopped on board for grunt work, with Grohl touring as drummer.
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Notwithstanding the controversial "The Feel Good Hit of the Summer," which rattled off a few of QOTSA's favorite things in the medicine cabinet, Rated R came off as more arranged than agro. Those fears were unfounded Songs for the Deaf returns Homme to his gloomier roots (check out "The Sky Is Falling" for its demonic drones and Cream-y falsettos), and the group's eclecticism this time out is reliant on changing the setting on the fuzz box every song.