Queens of the Stone Age - Queens of the Stone Age (1998), 8/10

Queens of the Stone Age's debut is a true marvel in songwriting and atmosphere, expanding on the themes explored by Kyuss yet containing an entirely new development of sound and composition. I really lucked out to discover this one so early, as it blends everything we enjoyed about Kyuss with what QOTSA would evolve into on albums like Rated R and Songs for the Deaf. Josh Homme has quite a unique style and delivery, and it comes through in the most raw, beautiful form imaginable here, an aspect of the band’s sound that has dissipated over the years. This is continued on the proceeding album, but becomes muddled with a change in vision beyond their second full-length LP to my ear. "Regular John" and "Avon" bring the heaviness right away, while "If Only" diverts into the more pop sensible direction the band would delve into years later, displayed on albums like Lullabies to Paralyze or ...Like Clockwork. "Walkin on the Sidewalks" brings the raw sexual energy that we love Homme for, and the droning bass and guitar work that make this record in particular special and unique. "How to Handle a Rope" offers a deeply satisfying hook, one of many, but this one in particular stands out and stands the test of repeated listens. I'm not sure what the hell the sounds are in "I Was a Teenage Hand Model", but I love every second of it. There is a consistent theme of hard rock mixed with unidentifiable madness that sets the album apart in tone and as an experience, elevating beyond the formula that would drag their later works down before a resurgence in style. Its heavy, hooky, euphonic and coarse in all the right moments, fluidly blending a harmonious scattering of serrated guitars, clever lyricism, and a beefy rhythm section. It all comes together to produce one of the best rock albums of the time bar none. Check out the From the Basement performance of "Mexicola" for a wonderful, energetic live performance from this record.