Queens of the Stone Age - Auto Pilot
The lineup for the second album from Queens of The Stone Age, Rated R.
There have been arguments among QOTSA fans about Nick Oliveri, about the band during and after his tenure. Personally, I thought he brought a certain decadence to the music that went missing after he left. But I’m in the minority there; a lot of fans were glad to see him depart.
Oliveri does the vocals on “Auto Pilot” “The Quick and the Pointless” and “Tension Head” on Rated R. While the latter two show off the punk side of Nick honed with The Dwarves, his shared vocal duties with Mark Lanegan on this song let us hear his soft side.
There are very few albums that can do for me what Rated R does. Listening from start to finish, it takes me to places that mind altering substances used to. It’s strange, it’s trippy, it’s a meandering ride through a funhouse tunnel, filled with twists and turns and sights and sounds that make you wish the ride would never end. Everything is unexpected; one minute you’re traveling at the speed of light and then suddenly you’re slowing down, you get a chance to collect your thoughts and breath before the ride whips up to speed again. There’s everything on this ride – highs and lows, love and pain, hallucinations and a mean reality.
There’s so much going on here that the album left my head spinning the first time I listened to it. The musical influences are so myriad – punk, metal, jazz, pop, psychedelic – that you have to completely open your mind in order to listen to and appreciate everything within. “Better Living Through Chemistry” is trippy fuzziness. “Auto Pilot” is melodic and soothing. “Tension Head” and “Quick and to the Pointless” are metal influenced punk. There are very few bands who could take so many sounds, put them on one album and make it all sound seamless. Queens of the Stone Age are masters at that. They can go from a singable pop number like “Lost Art of Keeping a Secret” to the strange funk of “Leg of Lamb” and it all just flows together like it was meant to be.
“Rated R” is a long, strange trip. While QOTSA are so often referred to as Stoner Rock, the beautiful thing about them and this album in particular is that you don’t need to be high to enjoy it; the music is the drug.