Classics Corner: Queens of The Stone Age: Era Vulgaris

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Alex Cardona
acardona@radford.edu

Queens of the Stone Age is an American hard rock band from Palm Desert, California. Josh Homme, lead guitarist and vocals for the band is to date, the only permanent member of QOTSA. Notable members include bassist Nick Oliveri and Dave Grohl (former drummer for Nirvana and current Foo Fighters) on drums. There have also been countless cameos throughout their career including guitarist Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top and vocalist Julian Casablancas of The Strokes. Released in 2007, the fifth album by QOTSA is the 11-track, 45-minute Era Vulgaris. The words “Era Vulgaris” are actually Latin for “Common Era”. The title was chosen based on the idea that the age we are living in is the vulgar or crude era. The album itself has an industrial electronic sound to it and was written with the input of Trent Reznor, creative force behind the band Nine Inch Nails. This album was also the first QOTSA to have mascots. The two cracked and battered light bulbs appropriately named “Bulby” and “Stumpy” on the cover are intended to be representative of “what you perceive to be a great idea that really is not that great of an idea”. Now for the music itself, the album starts off strong with a haunting and slow-building beat opening with echoing vocals and abstract lyrics. Attempting to sit down and decipher the meaning behind the lyrics in “Turnin’ On The Screw” may not be the best use of your time. In fact a lot of this album seems meant for non-direct listens. I’ve found that you get the most from this album depending on when and where you play it. Having it play during a long road trip, or sitting on a couch after the party has finally cleared out can put it and your brainwaves in perfect sync. There are several sides to this album; there are the jarring hard rock songs like “Sick Sick Sick” and “3’s and 7’s” and then there are the calmer and ultimately chiller songs like “Make it Wit Chu” and “Suture Up Your Future”. The lazy croon of Homme’s vocals in “Make it Wit Chu” are flawless. The overall feel of this album fluctuates throughout and for that reason you’ll enjoy it most after the first two or three listens, but the eventual payoff is worth the extra effort. QOTSA’s repetitive guitar riffs & distorted vocals mixed with the often chaotic background instruments all playing at once form to create a sum greater than all of it’s separate parts.