Now before we start let me get this off my chest, Kyuss are one of my all-time favourite bands. Like all favourite bands; however, you tend to have to extend the gaps between listening to their albums as you have usually abused their records far too much to appreciate them anymore. So hearing that Kyuss Lives were to record a new album filled me with a sense of anticipation I maybe haven’t felt about music in a while, but also quite a bit of trepidation [What if they are really bad? What if their sound misses the absent members of Kyuss too much? And so on…].
There are always going to be obvious and continuous comparisons made between Vista Chino and Kyuss, let’s get that one straight. What there also is, is a settling of the camps when it comes to Vista Chino (Kyuss Lives) QOTSA (Josh Homme) including Scott Reeder (Former Kyuss Bassist) and Nick Oliveri (Original Kyuss Bassist). Bad blood boiled to the surface between the parties from when Kyuss Lives were doing the rounds (I saw them, they were pretty cool, just to get a chance to see the old Kyuss songs played live was amazing, if at points like watching something that was almost, but not quite…) but I won’t get into that and all that was involved.
Moving past the opening track (“Good Morning Wasteland” – which serves only to needlessly extend the wait for what you know is coming) and onto “Dargona Dragona”. This is what my ears have been waiting for since “Muchas Gracias” and last year’s Download Festival in the UK. “Dargona Dragona” is very much like Unida more so than Kyuss and lights up the album nicely with some trademark Garcia vocalising and archetypal Stoner Rock grooves. “As You Wish” is a swinging off-beat fusion, relying heavily on Garcia’s harmonising vocals to drive the song along, but that’s fine by me, those vocals are one of the major reasons his bands have always worked. “Planets 1 & 2” is a stomping processional stoner track. The first half (Planet 1) is kicked off with an octave fuzzed guitar (an evil riff at that) that has definite hints of Tony Iommi nestling in there. Interestingly Brant Bjork provides vocals, which I wasn’t expecting, but as it turns out, this is one of my favourite tracks on the album, fusing that ‘Desert’ sound with an updated take. The second half of the song (which I presume is Planet 2) is definitely more of a stomping head nodding Garcia driven stoner affair.
“Adara” is more like Brant’s solo work, exhibiting the same guitar sounds which are more Jimmy Hendrix than fuzzed out. However, this works extremely well and almost merges effortlessly into “Mas Vino” which pays what I suspect is an unknown homage to ‘Colour Haze’ but changes the rhythm into one more swing-type than straight ahead stoner-rock. Finally, “Acidize The Gambling Moose” is a 13 minute opus that is almost a cross between those Swedish gods of groove ‘Dozer’ and the Kyuss of old, if a little bit more fiddly but a fantastic journey with all the expected emblematic stylising.
At times Peace seems to be missing some of the meat off the bones as it were, but if you allow yourself to be taken in and absorbed into the tracks the underlying and intelligent nuances overflow and the broader soundscape of the songs engross and envelope you, much like the original Kyuss records. I would offer some caution to those that are expecting a straight ahead Kyuss clone, these guys are not getting into that. There are elements of that special sound, but on show is also a definitive progression on from that which imbibes components from all of Garcia/Bjork’s other bands in the intervening years. The chemistry is obviously there and they have served up a great record that tends to grow on you rather than hit you with everything on the first listen.
01. Good Morning Wasteland (1:00)
02. Dargona Dragona (4:57)
03. Sweet Remain (3:16)
04. As You Wish (5:10)
05. Planets 1 & 2 (6:42)
06. Adara (4:48)
07. Mas Vino (1:27)
08. Dark and Lovely (6:25)
09. Barcelonian (3:37)
10. Acidize? The Gambling Moose (13:26)
Run Time: 49:00
Release Date: August 30, 2013
Check out the song “Dargona Dragona”