Japanese Version featuring Three Bonus Tracks: "Everybody Gonna Be Happy", "Lost Art of Keeping a Secret (Live)", and "Gonna Leave You (Spanish Version)".
Despite the advent of the '00s, thoroughly blunted longhairs wearing three-quarter-length T-shirts still boot around the suburbs in painted vans listening to roaring metal. Fittingly, a whole new crop of post-Dazed and Confused
-era stoner rockers--Fu Manchu, Monster Magnet, and arguably the kings of them all, Queens of the Stone Age--provide a shredding contemporary score for righteous three-finger devil salutes. On Songs for the Deaf
, core members bassist Nick Oliveri and singer-guitarist Josh Homme (also see Kyuss) balance pure guitar-induced carnage with more complex, though no less aggressive, speed rock that whips by so fast it creates its own breeze. Opening with the 90-second "The Real Song for the Deaf"--a cheeky and amorphous bit of bloopy electronica quite possibly recorded at the bottom of a swimming pool--the disc explodes with track two, a toxic squall of power chords and now-classic Olivera death howls. It's here the album's recurring concept/conceit is introduced as a generic-sounding announcer from L.A.'s "Clone" radio spits out some psychobabble reinforcing the tired if true cliché that commercial radio stinks. Similar mock broadcasts surface elsewhere, but they're easily forgivable, given the bounty on offer. Homme-powered tracks dominate--the lurching, weirdly springy "No One Knows" is a kind of "Monster Mash" for grownups; the vocal harmony-driven "The Sky Is Falling" is almost dreamy until a small army of guitars surges to the front lines to begin firing. And a lyrically winking hidden track, "Mosquito Song," is either an in-joke of ridiculous proportions or a declarative statement about the level of musicianship lurking just beneath the quaking veneer of the Queens' sound. Either way, genuine excitement comes early and often on Songs for the Deaf
. It's a remarkable achievement--a hard rock record so good that it immediately evokes a conspiratorial fervor that makes you want to tell everyone you can about it. Er, job done. --Kim Hughes