...Like Clockwork: A Trip Through The Desert
I've never been one for reviews. Sure, I enjoy reading the occasional critical analysis of a game or album, but the writing of a review has always eluded me. When I get done, the piece always feels robotic and forced (two major no-nos in my book of less-than-excellent). But, as a writer I feel compelled to write about my experience of certain forms, music especially.
So, here I sit, attempting to formulate a way to explain to you how much I dig the new Queens of The Stone Age album, ...Like Clockwork. I could dig into the back stories, tell you about Josh Homme dying on the table during a routine knee surgery and how the depression that followed played a major part in the bone structure of the album. I could get into the fact that Dave Grohl rocks his socks off on the kit, or how former drummer Joey Castillo left the band before recording and how it affected the sound. I could tell you about Trent Reznor being all over the feeling of the album, and appearing in a few tunes. I could tell you about how Sir Elton John called Josh Homme and told him they needed an actual "Queen" on this one, and then about his presence on the album. Of course, I would then have to tell you how I believe that Josh Homme may be one of the last remaining, true rock gods on the planet. I could tell you all of this, but it would be so normal. Wouldn't it?
Because, if I told you all of that, I would then have to tell you about how all you love from previous QoTSA albums is here, just refined. I would have to tell you how perfectly brutal the album is. I would have to tell you how tight the band is, and how chaotic that perfect order sounds. I would have to tell you that the art direction they took with the videos and the album work has grabbed me in a way I haven't felt since Mastodon's heady concept album days. I would have to tell you about Josh Homme pushing his vocal and guitar performances to the limit, and how it pays off in dividends. If this was a review, I would have to tell you all of this. Fortunately, for me, this isn't a review.
Instead, as should be done with all QoTSA albums, let's say we drop some acid and take a drive through the desert, see if we can grasp at this bad boy.
"I have always loved the desert. One sits down on a desert dune, sees nothing, hears nothing. Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams..." - Antione de Saint-Exupery
Depression. Death. Desolation. Destitution. Many a wayward son has felt the pain rooted deeply within the soundtrack for this trip. Top down in an El Camino, cruising under the brilliant night sky, fighting off visions of apocalypse and feelings of doom, we don't succumb to the inevitable, but hash it out track by track.
At first glance, the wide open space of the desert is too much. But, when the mind comes to terms with the overwhelming nature of nothingness that leads directly into the wonder of space, one has a bit of a thought. There is something deep and brooding hidden beneath this ever-expanding sand. For some, and never for all, this feeling is one of bastardized hope. Not the hope that lifts, but the hope that slowly inches us forward. The hope that is just a little bit better than the embrace of death. The hope that the mirage of a good life may actually be real.
In our hopeful despair, we run headlong into the night. The rage has come on. Lost lovers and faceless friends haunt our every memory. Plague our every thought with their smiling faces, dirty facades of broken promises. It would be better to cast out this rage inside, but that is nigh impossible now. The rage is us. We are the rage. Like clockwork, the hope that once compelled the foot to ease off the gas is now gone, replaced with the ever present and powerful anger. Gas to the floor, we scream into the night, into the face of imagined slights and skinned pride, driven by a hate that can never last.
A sweet breeze blows down our defenses and the soundwave nature of life again moves from the valley to the peak. It's all love and butterflies man. Tripping on life, hugging cactus like a long lost friend rediscovered, this is how life should be. The oft maligned spaces of the desert seem familiar now. We have family. We have friends. We have life. All is well and good, the end of which seems so far away, though we were greeted by it moments ago. That's life man, take the good with the bad. Rinse and repeat.
Now, the coming down. City lights blaze ahead, the world beckoning us to return. There is an itch that calls at us to turn around, to experience the ride yet again, but we've made it. We know that life will continue to ebb and flow. We know that the good will only seem so after the bad. The light brightest in the dark.
This is ...Like Clockwork.