‘…Like Clockwork’ is the sixth studio album from Queens of the Stone Age. The album features contributions from eleven special guests including Elton John, Dave Grohl and Trent Reznor. The contributions, although plentiful, are woven discretely into the music and will take a keen ear and constant referral to the credits, to work out where each musician appears. Drumming duties are shared between former drummer Joey Castillo, returning-guest Dave Grohl and the newly appointed Jon Theodore of The Mars Volta fame.
Whereas ‘Era Vulgaris’ split the fan base in half, the six year break between records resulted in a very strong album, from a rejuvenated QOTSA. Anyone familiar with Queens of the Stone Age, will know Josh Homme likes to experiment and nothing changes with ‘…Like Clockwork’. Any fear of a mediocre, middle-of-the-road attempt can be thrown away as soon as the haunting intro riff from ‘Keep Your Eyes Peeled’ broods beneath the thumping drum beat, which is finally overlaid by Josh’s wail. It was a bold move to start the album with such a dark and aggressive track, but it sets the almost Gothic mood perfectly for the album.
Coming from the previous track, ‘I Sat By The Ocean’ breaks more familiar ground, with a more standard structure and sing-along verses and is reminiscent of something from ‘Songs For The Deaf’.
The mood sinks back down with the next couple of tracks; ‘The Vampyre Of Time And Memory’ is a strange song which evolves from a piano melody to a manic crescendo and ‘If I Had A Tail’ is the highlight of the album, opting for a sparse choruses and an equally simple chorus which you will be singing for days with your best Josh Homme impression.
‘My God Is The Sun’ is the lead single of the album and continues the Gothic feel of the album. It is a solid track, but doesn’t really provide anything new to the album, apart from injecting a stab of energy into the middle of the record.
‘Kalopsia’ is my least favourite song on the album – although it’s an interesting idea, it is poorly executed and drags on. Josh Homme again opts for a wail type vocal, which turns what could be a beautiful song into an experience akin to having your ear stuck in a blender. With the lull in quality over, the second half of ‘…Like Clockwork’ can start in earnest with ‘Fairweather Friends’, a powerful hard-rock song, oozing with keys and overdriven guitar licks.
The second highlight of the album is ‘Smooth Sailing’, a groove based, bordering funk song. I’m sure it won’t take too long for the comparisons between Muse’s ‘Panic Station’ and ‘Smooth Sailing’ to begin, with the verses having an almost identical rhythm and melody. In fact, I actually had to check if Matt Bellamy was one of the many special guests on the album when I first heard the vocals.
‘I Appear Missing’ is another hard-rock song, which for many bands would be an excellent track, but with the success of other tracks on the album, ‘I Appear Missing’ just gets lost in the mix and is quite forgettable. The album concludes with a song of the same name, and is a beautiful way to end the album. ‘…Like Clockwork’ starts and ends with a poignant piano and vocal duet, with a clever guitar solo interlude, laden with effects to try its best to sound like an instrument from the horn section.
If you’re new to Queens of The Stone Age, this wouldn’t be a bad place to start. It is a very aggressive and moody album throughout, but doesn’t get bogged down in its Gothic feel, instead it blossoms into a tumultuous and surprisingly complete rock album. Josh Homme probably only has one worry; how can he top this record?