Lead-up hype to Queens of the Stone Age's first album in five years has focused on its loaded guest list, which includes Trent Reznor, Scissor Sisters' Jake Shears and Elton John. But for long-time fans, one name stands out: Nick Oliveri. The bearded bassist's growl was once a prime element of their stoner sound, before a much-publicized breakup saw lead vocalist Josh Homme take the reins as sole remaining member from their breakthrough days.
Like Clockwork reunites the two alongside crooner Mark Lanegan and legendary drummer Dave Grohl, reforming the classic lineup that created their 2002 masterpiece, Songs For The Deaf. But anyone expecting a return to that album's hard-riffing, singer-switching desert rock will be disappointed. Homme continues his recent focus on melody over heaviness (there are even a few piano ballads), and actually hearing the guests is near-impossible without liner notes and rewind. Song for song, however, this is the best QOTSA album in a decade, delivering all the swagger and skew of their greatest work without rehashing it.
Top track: My God Is The Sun