Album Review
Queens of the Stone Age – Era Vulgaris Album Cover

Queens of the Stone Age – Era Vulgaris

Reviewed by
Queens of the Stone AgeEra Vulgaris
Record Label – Interscope
Release Date – 12 June 2007

“Welcome to the Vulgar Era”—that’s what the latest offering from Queens of the Stone Age seems to be saying. And in a world where the dudes from Jackass still have jobs and you can barely step out your front door without seeing celebrity crotch, who’s to argue? But, then again, a hearty welcome to the Vulgar Era isn’t really such a surprising thing coming from Palm Desert’s finest. After all, they’ve been here for years.

The undisputed kings of sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll, the Queens of the Stone Age are at it again with Era Vulgaris. After 2005’s tumultuous Lullabies to Paralyze, which saw drastic changes in the band’s lineup, Era Vulgaris marks a bit of a return to form for the Queens. Where Lullabies seemed content to wallow in its own mire, Era Vulgaris shows that frontman Josh Homme still knows how to party. After recording the second Eagles of Death Metal album in 2006 (the brilliantly-titled Death By Sexy), Homme seemed to return to the studio with singular goal in mind: to put the sex back into rock.

By and large, he did just that on this record. Tracks like “Misfit Love” and “I’m Designer” are the kind of sweaty hip-thrusters that bring to mind the best tracks on Rated R, with seductive riffs and bass lines that are the good kind of dirty. The irritatingly-yet-ironically titled “Make It Wit Chu” sounds like an smooth R & B number after a couple serious bong hits, with Homme doing his best crooning over a delightfully hypnotic rhythm. Sound odd? It is (but what isn’t with Homme involved?)—but it’s also one of the album’s highlights.

The Queens do take some time off from trying to seduce you to remind you that they are, first and foremost, rockers. The industrial-tinged “Sick, Sick, Sick” and “Battery Acid” attempt to pummel the listener with aggressive riffs and helter-skelter percussion. Likely single “3’s and 7’s” is the Queens at their gritty best, with a hook that is both catchy and abrasive, and a chorus that is immediately stuck in your head. Opener “Turnin’ On The Screw” capitalizes on the mechanized sound that marks band’s early works, driving the rhythms straight into your skull with no apologies.

Although decidedly a better ride than the oft-doldrumy Lullabies, Era Vulgaris nevertheless seems to suffer from a lack of focus—often for rather lengthy stretches. On some tracks (“Turnin’ On The Screw,” “Misfit Love”) the music seems to unravel after a while, giving way to boring bridges and lackadaisical refrains. This really isn’t surprising, considering Homme’s desert jam-session background, but it all comes to a head in the album’s final stanza. The final three tracks lack the energy and drive that makes the rest of the album so frenetically enjoyable; the album goes out with a whimper instead of the bang that you’ve been expecting.

All in all, Era Vulgaris is decidedly chaotic, often violent, sometimes peculiar, but always interesting. More than anything else, Homme seems to like to keep the audience on their toes. Behind all the sex-and-booze fueled bravado, the tracks here are perfectly-executed rock compositions brilliantly disguised as shitkicking desert jams. In nearly every song, there’s an interesting transition or a surprising lick that reminds you that Josh Homme and the boys are some of the most technically proficient musicians working today. Homme and Troy Van Leeuwen’s guitars just sing, at times bringing to mind Jimmy Page or Ritchie Blackmore at their balls-out best. The bass pulses throughout the album, a thick undercurrent that bounces when it needs to, while the drums do what they need to do without getting in the way, steady and robotic.

Finally, one of the best parts about a Queens record is that you never know who’s along for the ride—the Queens of the Stone Age are as much a revolving door as a rock band. Longtime member Nick Oliveri is gone (and has been since before Lullabies), as is one-time member Dave Grohl. Frequent Queens contributor Mark Lanegan makes a token appearance on “River in the Road,” while Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas (again with the odd…) guests on “Sick, Sick, Sick.” And, although the track is not on the album itself, Trent Reznor appears on the eponymous “Era Vulgaris” (which is featured on a promotional pre-release CD). That said, the Queens are still Josh Homme’s show to run. And, with Era Vulgaris, he shows us that the Vulgar Age has a silver lining—and they welcome you into it with open arms.
This review is a user submitted review from Keatsey. You can see all of Keatsey's submitted reviews here.
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 16
01:12 PM on 06/02/07
Blake Solomon
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Blake Solomon's Avatar
really cool review. I've always been a casual fan of this band. I need to look into this.
08:27 PM on 06/02/07
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Great album, good review. Except Era Vulgaris in latin means "Common Era", not the "Vulgar Era" you seem to be insinuating.
08:32 PM on 06/02/07
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Keatsey's Avatar
I know, but Josh Homme has been quoted as saying that he likes that it sounds like Vulgar Era:

"It sounds like "the Vulgar Era", which I like, because that sounds like something that I would like to be part of...I mean I think we're in it, and I'm stoked. --Josh Homme, Pitchfork interview, April 13, 2007"

Pulled that from wikipedia. Maybe I should have mentioned this in the review...
06:29 PM on 06/03/07
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xjustinx's Avatar
I need to listen to this
03:15 AM on 06/04/07
work like slaves – eat like kings
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remyy's Avatar
I didn't really like this. Weird vocals on most of the stuff.
I was a great fan of their earliest work. Lullabies wasn't that great either in my opinion.
There was a couple of solid songs, like 3's & 7's, Sick, Sick, Sick & the song, Era Vulgaris.

Maybe it'll grow on me.
12:24 PM on 06/04/07
Take Apart Your Head
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Shatter_Glass's Avatar
I know, but Josh Homme has been quoted as saying that he likes that it sounds like Vulgar Era:

"It sounds like "the Vulgar Era", which I like, because that sounds like something that I would like to be part of...I mean I think we're in it, and I'm stoked. --Josh Homme, Pitchfork interview, April 13, 2007"

Pulled that from wikipedia. Maybe I should have mentioned this in the review...

I think he was being synical as to how some casual on-lookers might look at the album title.
11:19 PM on 06/05/07
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bnana=godexists's Avatar
I understand the originality of this as a whole and can appreciate the creativity but I am just not feeling the momentum most of the cd. Not much staying power and it just drags on.
02:47 PM on 06/09/07
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People still listen to this band?

hahah shut the fuck up
01:01 AM on 06/20/07
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Keatsey's Avatar
Just as a quick addendum:

If you can get your hands on the bonus tracks/b-sides, do it. Acoustic versions, the title track, and a wicked cover of Billy Idol's "White Wedding."

C-c-c-check it out.
02:40 PM on 08/17/07
Karma Police
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this CD is over most of the AP listeners heads...too bad for them
07:13 PM on 05/24/08
Petitioning The Empty Sky
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Ouch's Avatar
This was actually quite disappointing for me, still a good CD though. :)
01:55 PM on 02/05/09
the riddler
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i'm a big fan of q.o.t.s.a, but kyuss were sooooo much better
12:37 AM on 08/15/10
Hunter Brixton
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tbagurdrumset94's Avatar
This album BLEW. I liked about two songs. The rest were nonsense.
12:04 AM on 12/11/10
Hunter Vincenzo Edwards
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alexibilly94's Avatar
thumbs down

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