Queens of the Stone Age have come a long way over the last two decades. The band born out of the break up of Kyuss (Josh Homme’s previous band) has been evolving. Their development, not simply defined by the changes in their sound from the more explicit stoner rock genre of Kyuss, is represented through the fresh taste every new album brings emotionally. Each album is a reflection and a marker of the occurrences of significant life events as well as the resulting mindsets as they seep through the lyrical and musical medium. Their fifth album Era Vulgaris released prior to their six year break in 2007 received the lowest ratings out of their discography. During those six years, Josh Homme also experienced mental turmoil and depression consequent to complications during a knee surgery that caused his heart to stop. Like Clockwork came as a pick me up from these challenges as it received good reviews and would set Homme back on track. Four years onwards, their seventh studio album Villains is one that embraces journey and speaks the language of carpe diem.
Villain presents itself as a capsule determined to surge through the hurdles of life, going by an all in or all out attitude. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Homme although reluctant, mentions his close relation to the Paris attacks and how it affected him. But Homme sees these adversities he has experienced as motivation to cling onto the present and keep doing what he loves.
This belief comes through particularly in The Evil Has Landed. The winding electric guitar hook in the intro manifests a daredevil vibe as he chants “Come close” throughout the song – a nudge to break through fears that prevent you from “Going on a living spree”. Homme turns the saying on its head and sings that by “Div[ing] in” and being “far beyond definition”, you will experience the thrill of a “near-life experience”.
The first track of the album Feet Don’t Fail Me serves as a strong and fervent beginning to the journey that Villains illustrates. The first minute of the track begins with a few plucks and rasps of muffled guitar strings, gradually adding more rhythmic layers from the bass, and steady chugging of the drums. Accompanied with the layer of ritualistic ‘bums’, the build up gives an illusion of a grandeur entrance into life, equipped and ready to face anything. A train-like visual is created through the echoes of “it’s calling me” with the first few dampened and gradually getting clearer as if going through a tunnel. The track itself is an allegory for the rollercoaster element of life with key changes displaying the unexpected turns – the tumult that comes with the package.
Villains is an intimate and relatable quest that we all strive towards. With the help of Mark Ronson, the nine tracks achieve a continuous flow that keeps the listener on board throughout this odyssey. Although less heavy sonically than previous albums, the album as a whole packs as much of a punch emotionally. It exercises the tough grit and positivity that we are encouraged to adopt in the midst of all the mishap of our current world.