At the time of its release in 1998, Queens Of The Stone Age marked a new direction for Josh Homme and Alfredo Hernández of stoner-rock desert legend Kyuss. The album had softer vocals, but was still metal—kind of. It had less jamming, more hooks, and so on. It’s interesting, then, to revisit the band’s debut after four more albums and a dozen years, only to find it downright primitive by comparison.
For folks unwilling to drop serious coin on Amazon or eBay, this reissue on Homme’s own Rekords Rekords imprint is nicely timed. It’s also a kind-of-quaint look at a band that knew what it wanted to do, but hadn’t quite figured out how to do it yet. Some songs hint at the tightness the Queens rhythm section would one day embody (“Regular John”), while directionless noodling and farting synths weigh down the otherwise-taut songwriting that would one day manifest itself in pop gems like “The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret” and “No One Knows.” All the elements are here, though they’re on the darker end of the coal/diamond spectrum, and the mostly unremarkable bonus tracks don’t do the set any favors. But when it’s good, it’s damn good, and through the murk, there’s the sound of a band that would one day be truly great.