What do you get when you combine a group of super talented rappers probably completely high on weed with Wu-Tang Clan style production and an unhealthy obsession with horror films? You get one of the most sinister, menacing and probably dopest Hip Hop albums ever that’s what. In fact, I reckon Darth Vader could have played this to Luke Skywalker to convince him to join the Dark Side.
This album draws you into its shadowy world and will not let go. The theme of impending doom and horror throughout this album is such a refreshing contrast to some of the more clichéd Hip Hop out there. The aggressive rhymes tell morbid tales of death, the devil and ghoulish goings on with a strictly dark sense of humour. The production completely nails the eerie atmosphere and when combined with verses this good ensures almost every track is a classic.
So, give this a listen and indulge your dark side. Come now, we have cookies.
Personal Fave Track: “Diary Of A Madman”
When I say the words “dance music” followed by the words “dub” I imagine some of you will cringe as you imagine almost endless “wub wub wubs” in the form of dubstep battering down your ear drums. Some of you will no doubt smile in delight, as you imagine an intoxicated version of yourself waiting for the beat to drop (whatever that means, I’m no expert!) before exploding into a variety of dance moves.
Way back in 1995, Leftfield released this gem of an electronic album which combined the sounds of dance with dub and reggae. Whatever your feelings on dubstep, chuck all your preconceptions regarding this combination of genres out of the window. This is primarily an ambient electronic album, which subtly brings in elements from dub and reggae. This could be reggae vocalists, tribal sounding drumming or some very dubby sounding basslines. It’s all done so seamlessly.
It’s completely chilled out, yet makes for an enthralling listen. It flows effortlessly, with some more uptempo numbers thrown in for variety. It’s pure ear candy and is one of the albums you could really zone out to if you really wanted to. Highly recommended.
Personal Fave Track: “Inspection Check One”
Ahh, Queens Of The Stone Age. One of my favourite bands. Ever since I bought “Songs For The Deaf” I would never quite be the same. So, to say I was stoked about this album and any subsequent touring would be a severe understatement. My expectations for this album were fairly high, but I was realistic. I wasn’t expecting another Songs For The Deaf or even another Rated R, because both those albums were moments in time that have passed. Homme doesn’t quite seem like the crazed drug lunatic he was, but he’s such a good musician he doesn’t need to be.
I think this comes across in this album. This is the sound of a musician maturing and really focusing on the songwriting, over say a riff. There’s been some real thought gone in this album and it just feels like Homme & his band are doing what comes naturally. The album itself is almost indie-like, it’s filled with jangly guitars and catchy choruses. However, it has a dark and bleak underbelly which makes it sound completely unique. For every “rock” moment, there’s some strange breathing, odd keyboards or melancholic pianos which add atmosphere and depth. It has some of the rock swagger of some of QOTSA’s earlier works combined with slower, stranger touches. There’s quite a bit of melancholy on here as well, which really isn’t a bad thing at all.
All in all, Queens Of The Stone Age have created a rock album that sounds different and fresh in 2013, when the genre seems stuck in proverbial dead-end as most of it’s been done before. That to me is to be commended, and however you like your Queens, you should appreciate that they can still produce music that’s a little bit different.
Personal Fave Track: “I Appear Missing”
“Rock is dead” is one of those phrases that gets repeated quite often by people who never had any interest in rock music in the first place and/or people who will listen to only the sickest new Hip-Hop or electronic mix tape. They think the guitar is unfashionable and almost treat it with disdain.
Whilst hipster attitudes might make you think you’re ubercool, there’s a huge downside. You’re neglecting some brilliant guitar music that will most likely kick your arse. It doesn’t care if it’s cool, it just goes for the jugular.
So, here we are in 2013 with Clutch releasing an album that makes you stuff any “Rock is dead” comments right were they belong. This is 45 minutes of sheer unadulterated hard rock which is a joy to listen to. It’s not cliché, and sounds like more aggressive stoner rock with a huge dollop of the blues. It’s an album that feels like it’s going back to the roots of rock ‘n roll yet sounds completely fresh even today. There is simply not a bad track on here, even the slower songs absolutely nail it. There’s no irritating cheesy token ballad that the record company told them to write, it just all kills.
Another album I don’t feel like I can say a lot about, just listen to it. Everybody needs a little bit of top-notch rock in their life and that’s a fact.
Personal Fave Track: “Crucial Velocity”