WPTS From the Vault – Era Vulgaris
From the Vault: Queens of the Stone Age – Era Vulgaris
By: Timotheus G. Hinton
Welcome to “From the Vault”, a column where we express our thoughts on an older album, all while taking a look back at a previous review of that album from one of our past contributors. After doing some deep digging through the vast archive of music here at WPTS, we found an album and review that is a great pick for this month’s edition: the fifth full length studio work from Queens of the Stone Age, Era Vulgaris. But before we get into our thoughts, let’s take a quick look at a previous review of it.
I’ll admit that this is actually the first QotSA album that I’ve ever listened to. Prior to giving this thing a spin, I’d only heard individual songs from the group, such as “Little Sister” and the ridiculous track that is “3’s & 7’s.” The sad thing is that I’ve actually been wanting to listen to Era Vulgaris for a long time. I just never really got around to doing so.
Well I’ve finally given it a listen all these years later. It’s definitely not what I was expecting it to be, but it’s still really good. Even though “3’s & 7’s” was a single, I figured some of the album would still be as hard-hitting and brash as that track. It’s quite the contrary, though, as “3’s & 7’s” stands alone by itself. Not a single track on the album comes to close to sounding the same as it. Not only this, but the it comes at you out of nowhere. One second you’re jamming to the (previously described) “bluesy” tune of “Make It Wit Chu”, and the next you’re introduced to a “face-melting” guitar. It’s pretty awesome.
“Sick, Sick, Sick”, the first lead single from the album, is another standout and is also one of the louder, fast-paced tracks on it. You’ve got screeching, high-pitched guitars in the background with a lead guitar that sounds coarse at some points and smooth at others. The vocals on this track compliment the instrumentation really well. If you weren’t awake after the first track “Turnin’ on the Screw”, then you definitely will be after this one.
“I’m Designer” is where the “rough but smooth” sound is heard best. The guitars might not seem great at the start, but give it 30 seconds and you’ll find yourself grooving to the uncanny soundscape in no time. The drums are pretty unorthodox as well. While it may be a straightforward rhythm that’s being played, the hit-hat and cymbals aren’t hit on the 4th beat of every bar. (Which is weird, but works for this song perfectly.) The simplicity of them really give the guitars and lyrics room to breathe so that you’re pulled closer in to the performance.
The only duds on this thing are “Misfit Love”, “Battery Acid”, and “River in the Road.” But with a cast of other songs around them that are filled with so much character, this can be easily overlooked. The crunchy, dense guitars scattered about make Era Vulgaris a really fun listen. Throw in some solid lyrics and you’ve got yourself a great album. If you’re up for the challenge of listening to different styles of rock fused into one, then give this thing a spin.