Queens of the Stone Age

Queens of the Stone Age have always had a shot full of grunge sludging up their metal cocktail, so Dave Grohl as their new drummer is a natural fit—it works out to be the hard rock equivalent of the Yankees getting Randy Johnson. Just give 'em the title already! Songs for the Deaf combines the bong-rattling drone of the band's '98 debut with the desolation of 2000's Rated R, making for a fantastic third release—a distillation of the best moments of two fine earlier works. Grohl's muscular poundings make the speaker-busting, furious “Six Shooter” and the burly “Song for the Dead,” as well as snappier, less forceful jams “God Is on the Radio” and “No One Knows,” explode into choruses with such fist-pumping momentum that you're likely to pull a tendon just by listening. Though Songs for the Deaf is mostly a metal record, it's one of those rare, passionate ones that move beyond the trappings of a usually adolescent style. When it cruises, it wallows in claustrophobic Alice in Chains mire; when it erupts, it does so with the gusto and precision of the best Smashing Pumpkins. (Michael Coyle)

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