Queens of the Stone Age: Era Vulgaris
Stoner rock is back, and this time ingenious to the core. ‘Era Vulgaris’ has hints of reference to our era termed as crude, rudimentary, and blatantly filthy, but do we have a choice but to be a part of the dirt? Yes, this is exactly the theme around which the album hovers, telling us that it’s an absolute compulsion to be a part of the “now”.
Warning: It just could happen that my syntax could go for a toss while you read the following, because I can ramble on and God put a stop to me because this is definitely one of those underrated bands who are to-date highly misunderstood, leaving me a little disappointed. But hopefully all will change. In time. With one listen to ‘Era Vulgaris’.
So let’s begin. This is the fifth album from Queens of the Stone Age, and yet another one that has not failed to impress me. Not because I am a hardcore partisan but it’s the plain dedication and persistence that this band shows that is evident in the improvisation showcased in each new album. The album starts with “Turnin’ on the Screw” — lowered bass lines, clashing cymbals, some heavy drumming and an undoubtedly appropriate wah-wah pedal.
Once the album starts, a certain kind of mood is created. You are ready to take it with the soot and trust me when I say this, the first track gets you prepared for that. There are quick riffs and you feel dark clouds moving around in circles when you look at the lyrics, “Sick, Sick, Sick” is alluring as it continues.
Then comes the dueling effect of the guitars followed by the quick and agile bass, as enthralling as it gets, and it’s all there in “I’m Designer”. Now the listener wanders on the darker side with a touch of melancholy that is so captivating that one can’t just stop and go back. You have to move on. In “Into the Hollow”, you get to hear some sliding guitars and dreamy vocals. The sadness fades but your thoughts remain, and you feel caught up in what seems like a different time and place, where it’s just you and the music.
There are moments when a looming mood is created in “Misfit Love”. The thoughts it invokes can be disorienting, but you just cannot stop. “Battery Acid” is one of my favourite songs by far. The bluesy “Make it Wit Chu” brings about a mood shift, and is a song for all those people who love, respect and live by the blues. “3′s & 7′s” has some good guitar licks as well. “Suture Up Your Future” is a power ballad!
The album creates a certain mood as it starts and then there’s a major mood shift every now and then. It consists of 11 great songs, each sounding as original as it can get, each setting a mood of its own, including the radio-friendly “River in the Road” and “Run, Pig, Run”, which speed metal-heads will love. ‘Era Vulgaris’ is as raw as it gets and yet polished enough at the same time, and that takes some doing. On that note, I take a bow to Josh Homme.