Villains is the seventh full length record from the iconic stoner rock band, Queens of the Stone Age. This album follows the release of 2013’s …Like Clockwork. Josh Homme (guitar, lead vocals) formed Queens of the Stone Age in 1996 in Palm Desert, California and is the only original member left in the band. On this album, he is joined by Troy Van Leeuwen (guitars,
keyboard), Michael Shuman (bass), Dean Fertita (keyboard, guitar), and Jon Theodore (drums). The band keeps their ominous stoner rock vibes and electrifying riffs that defined their style in the early 2000s and incorporate several dance influences. Villains goes for a more upbeat and
aggressive tone compared to the dark and relaxed …Like Clockwork. Lyrically, the album is just as dreary and deep as their previous outing. The record only contains nine tracks, but just three of the tracks run under five minutes. Homme brought Mark Ronson on-board to produce the album and take the band into new territory. Longtime fans of Queens of the Stone Age may be turned off by this choice, given Ronson’s background in pop music. However, the production works by giving Homme and the band a fresh sound that they desired to explore, without sounding even remotely close to modern pop music. Where the production fails is with the drums; they sound drowned out in most of the tracks and aren’t as prominent here as on early Queens’ albums.
“Feet Don’t Fail Me” kicks off the album with a psychedelic intro that builds into a groovy funk sound with a killer riff. The song really sets up the energy and dance rock vibe that flows through this album. “The Way You Used to Do” feels like a mash-up of 1930s swing music and hard rock. It works great as the first single off the record. “Domesticated Animals” is sinister and grows wilder as the song goes on. It has some great lyrics about greed and taming the animal inside. “Fortress” has some superb lyrics comparing the heart to a fortress and how “every fortress falls, it is not the end,” but it drags on and slows the pace of the album. It feels like it belongs on …Like Clockwork or The Black Keys’ Turn Blue. “Head Like a Haunted House” is very fast paced and explosive. It’s a heart-pounding foot-tapping song with urgency and a wicked riff. “Un-Reborn Again” is a very menacing and evil sounding tune. It’s got an interesting and enjoyable vocal delivery with some powerful instrumentals. The strings and saxophone towards the end of the song are a great addition. “Hideaway” doesn’t stand out at all
and is forgettable. It’s fairly enjoyable, but it feels like a standard filler. “The Evil Has Landed” sounds very sharp and is the best track on the record. The high-pitched guitar and a few different riffs shift up the song throughout its playtime. Homme’s vocals sound great here. The track feels like it has the ferocity of “3’s and 7’s” with the pace of “I Sat by the Ocean.” “Villains of Circumstance” is a shift down in intensity, but it’s a great closing song that brings the themes of villainy in the album together. It starts ominous, gets more upbeat as it goes along, and then finishes off with what sounds like a horror movie soundtrack. The track seemed boring at first, but it becomes more enjoyable with each listen.
Overall, Villains is a great record with very solid songs. It’s not the same caliber as …Like Clockwork or Songs for the Deaf, but Queens of the Stone Age always delivers without disappointment. The album brings a new element to a band that’s expanding their range of sound without losing touch of their roots.
Recommended If You Like: Eagles of Death Metal, Royal Blood, Them Crooked Vultures
Recommended Tracks: 1 (Feet Don’t Fail Me), 2 (The Way You Used to Do), 5 (Head Like a Haunted House), 6 (Un-Reborn Again), 8 (The Evil Has Landed)
Do Not Play: None
Written by Dawson Frick on 10/12/2017