Lambast-your-ears hard rock got its new champions in the Queens of the Stone Age, with their dark sound and screaming, heavy instrumentation. In "Stone Age Complications," they link together a six-song EP of their remixes, rarities and covers -- and the result is very solid.
It kicks off with a solid cover of the Kinks "Who'll Be the Next in Line," a bit more conventionally catchy than what the Queens of the Stone Age usually do, but still with the flavor of their work. After that is an eerie cover of Subhumanz's "Wake Up Screaming," and a buzzing, heavy version of the Cramps' "Most Exalted Potentate of Love."
But Queens of the Stone Age don't neglect their own material either. An unusual remix of "No One Knows" is included, very synthy and gothic. There are also two unused songs: "Born to Hula," a percussion-heavy rocker with lots of bass and cymbals, and the slowly built-up, distorted "The Bronze."
Usually compilations of B-sides, covers and remixes -- especially if they include all three -- are a mixed bag. But surprisingly, Queens of the Stone Age keep their EP solid and smooth. It feels like a bunch of puzzle pieces that click smoothly together, yet don't sound monotonous.
The instrumentation is still in fine form in "Complications" -- in true rock tradition, these guys mix heavy guitar riffs with grinding bass and some fast-as-lightning percussion. And there's a hint of dark, watery synth at the start of the "No One Knows" Unkle Remix, which gives a surreal edge to a song which wasn't surreal to start with.
The vocals are equally good -- Josh Homme, of Kyuss and the Desert Sessions, has a strong, slightly sweet voice. It's a little annoying when he launches into frantic howls at the end of "Wake Up Screaming," but he keeps himself restrained in the other songs. When he sings "Who'll be the next in line?/... Who'll make the same mistakes I made over you?", he even sounds stern, like someone delivering a lecture.
Queens of the Stone Age deliver a solid EP of their rarities, remixes and B-sides in "Stone Age Complications." It's not the best introduction to the band, but definitely a must-have for fans.