Kyuss were Gods (capital G intentional). You can argue with me, and you would be dead wrong and quickly shunned for all eternity. In the band’s short timespan, they cemented themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the desert rock/stoner metal arena. One thing that can be argued is the band were greater than the sum of its splintered parts. The most famous, Josh Homme’s wildly successful Queens of the Stone Age, barely contains an inkling of the simmering heaviness that his prior band brought forth in droves. Leave it to former frontman (and current Vista Chino vocalist) John Garcia, whose debut album, two years in the making, finally dropped into my lap. Does this bring back stoner glory, or does it prove the argument correct?
The answer is a frustrating combination of both answers. “My Mind” starts off promisingly enough, a straight-ahead rock song with a few good riffs, some catchy basslines, and some rock-solid drumming. Of course, John’s voice is in fine form here, recalling his work with Unida and his more recent output. To say his voice has aged nicely since the 90’s would be a gross understatement. One thing to note is that very little of this song (or the majority of the album) could be classified as an offshoot of Kyuss‘s former glories, nor should it be compared to such. Only the driving “5000 Miles” and the meaty “Argleben” would come close to those lofty heights, and even then they are passing glances, if anything.
Elsewhere, his cover of Black Mastiff‘s “Rolling Stoned” is catchy as all get-out, his effect-drenched voice (more on that in a bit) convincing you that if you leave him, he will kill you. The best parts of this album, though, are the ingeniously crafted “His Bullets Energy,” and it’s slower, somber counterpoint, “Her Bullets Energy.” The former, once it gets going, is a good, hard-driving number. Its quieter sister, however, is a reflective, beautiful number, taking the lyrics of the former and twisting it into a tune perfect for the drive home towards the desert sun. The fact that this is aided by legendary guitarist Robby Krieger of The Doors just adds to the atmosphere immensely.
So why is it frustrating? The answer is twofold. Despite the short length, the album didn’t grasp me all that well with the exception of the aforementioned songs. “Confusion” is a great song, but it could have been stretched out a little more.However, the big problem lies with the star attraction himself, or rather, how he was recorded. You know that “singing into a megaphone” effect I mentioned on “Rolling Stoned”? It’s used on more than half of the songs on here, including the two “Bullets Energy” songs. I can understand it being used as an effect here and there, but not when it’s used on the majority of the songs, and that’s especially annoying when you possess a voice as strong as John does (besides that ill-advised higher range passage in “All These Walls”). This isn’t fucking Cynic we are talking about here. It’s completely unnecessary, and all it does is distract and dampen the overall experience.
I really, really wanted to enjoy this record more than I did. While this is more palatable than anything Josh Homme has put out in a while, this is still not hitting all the necessary notes for me. While I wasn’t expecting Kyuss 2.1, I was expecting a better album. Until then, to quote “Day One,” the wind will carry on and on….