9/25/2011

Queens of the Stone Age - 'Rated R'


Title: Rated R
Artist: Queens of the Stone Age
Date: 2000
Genre: Hard Rock, Stoner Rock

Total length: 42 minutes / 11 tracks
Download link (mp3, CBR @ 160 kbps)


Main Personnel:
Josh Homme - Vocals, guitar
Nick Oliveri - Vocals (4, 7, 9), backing vocals
Dave Catching - Piano, guitar
Nick Lucero - Drums
Gene Trautmann - Drums
Many more artists have played a minor role. See wiki article for more info.

Rating: 7/10 - Very Good

It's a pretty good album, but not really my taste. I'm actually doing this review because a friend asked me to. It was a long time since I listened to QOTSA, but I was happy to give them another try. I redownloaded their discography (in FLAC, mochiron) and listened to them for a couple hours. My main interest was focused on Rated R and Songs For the Deaf, since they were supposedly their best.



The album cover and title: The cover is pretty dull, but I like the idea. Certainly not the worst cover I've ever seen, but I usually like it more when there it's a bit more dynamic. It's pretty much a matter of personal preference though.
The title is interesting, and I like it very much. For those that don't know (I didn't either before looking it up) - Rated R in terms of movies means that it's rated for 17+. This means it has heavy adult or drugs related content, which indeed does seem the case for this album.

Sound quality: Surprisingly good. I'm not that big a fan of the heavy use of distorted instruments, but it's done fairly well in this particular album. No distortion 0n the cymbals, and no added spacial effects. The latter is not bad per se since it can sound OK with speakers, it's just that it sounds absolutely horrible with headphones.
There are many albums within the genre that do not achieve this high standard of sound quality.

01 - Feel Good Hit of the Summer: In this track we are suddenly warned what the title of the album is all about. This song is basically Homme shouting out the names of various drugs with a nice rhythmic distorted guitar on the background creating a very catchy rythm.
There are drums and less distorted guitar on the background too, but they are slightly drowned out by the vocals and rhytmic guitar.
The chorus is Homme blurting out 'C-c-c-c-c-cocain' several times. The whole ensemble suddenly becomes more lively during the chorus.
After the first chorus the distorted guitar plays a sweet and short solo. Although the distortion becomes a bit too much when played likes this, in my opinion.
The rest of the song is pretty much repeating it self all over, adding backing vocals along the way.

02 - The Lost Art of Keeping A Secret: In my opinion this song is pretty much of a filler; it just sounds so generic to my ears. Sure - they have nice thing going with the piano during the verses, and the lyrics are not bad, but the chorus is just plain boring. The chorus simply lacks energy you'd expect it to have, and repeating it thrice might not be the best thing ever. Many other parts are simply too noisy with the distorted instruments that the vocals are drowned out in the noise. I'm not really a fan of such high level of distortions.
It's not all bad though, for example the guitar solo at 2:30 is fairly nice. Furthermore the less noisy parts (i.e. the verses) are satisfactory.

03 - Leg of Lamb: The guitar chords here are very nice but a bit too repetitive. I think Homme did an excellent job on the vocals. The lyrics are so-so. I do like the line "You're a truth freak with a lie".
Once again the chorus is disappointing and just sounds too generic.
The sudden silence of all the musical instruments on the last line gives of a very nice effect.

04 - Auto Pilot: Too poppy for me. I don't know why, but it just feels so terrible generic.
The lyrics are quite good, again apart from the chorus. What is it with these guys, why do they mess up the chorus every single time?
I love the high pitched guitar, it adds a slice of emotion to this otherwise dry piece. The rhythm on the other hand is fairly boring.

05 - Better Living Through Chemistry: Nice percussions at the beginning. The guitar that follows with it is sweet too. They do a really nice job with the building op of sonic complexity in the first part of this song. The chorus is a bit boring again, although maybe I should stop bashing them so much; some people must be liking them, right?
After the first chorus there is a slight silence giving of a very nice effect. The instrumental parts of this song really are quite great, and they make excellent use of mastering techniques to provide the listener with appetizing sound effects. I wish the entire album was like this.
The lyrics are very nice, and maybe the best on the album. I think this could easily be one of the best songs on the album overall.

06 - Monster In The Parasol: Love this song. It starts out very energetic, and it tries to keep up this energy during the song. The cymbals give a very nice rhythm to the track, so good nice that I just can't stop bobbing my head during this song.
Together with track 05 I think this is the best song on the album.

07 - Quick And To the Pointless: Nice song title. Again nice rythm and energy in this song.
The high pitched male vocals and hand claps remind me of Mindless Self Indulgence.
A bit short, but very nice overall.

08 - In The Fade: Promising instrumental opening, but overall the song has let me down a bit. It again sounds a bit generic to me. Maybe this is partly caused by the poppy lyrics and over distorted guitars eating away every breath of emotion this track could have.
The verses of this song are not bad, and a job especially well done by the drums and bass.
The reprise of track 01 at the end of this song is peculiar, and I don't know whether it's good or bad. I do not like the fade out at the end of the reprise, but I do like the instrumental opening.

09 - Tension Head: Again a pretty sweet instrumental opening. The aggressive vocals and guitar make a nice effect, but I can't say I'm a fan of it. My feeling to this song overall are fairly neutral; it's a nice change of pace but maybe a bit outside their scope of talent.

10 - Lightning Song: A 2 minute long instrumental piece. A nice breather after the rather aggressive 9th track. Not too much special going on, but overall very nice. Especially the percussions are good on this track.

11 - I Think I Lost My Headache: This song is a bit prog rock like, especially the horns at the end. The chorus is a bit boring, but that really does seem the case in every song. The verses are not bad, but I especially like the instrumental parts of this song.
Luckily about two thirds of this song is instrumental, and made a very nice surprise to someone like me (i.e. a King Crimson fan). If only they focused more on compositions such as this, since they do have the talent. Maybe there is simply no demand for music like this in this day and age. :'(

The verdict. My feelings about this album are mixed. It contains both good and bad parts. The major con of this album are its horrible choruses, but the main good thing about it are the lovely instrumental parts.
I wish these guys were active in the sixties instead of now - they would have made prog rock instead of stoner rock.


Word count: ~1400.

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