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Eagles of Death Metal: huh??

First of all, let’s make one thing perfectly clear: Eagles of Death Metal is NOT a death metal band! So do not let the name fool you – it’s merely a joke, one that I am sure many a fan of Queens of the Stone Age is sure to be in on.

Secondly, those expecting this side project of Queens principal Josh Homme to sound anything like his full-time band, be prepared to chuck any such expectations out the window. Eagles of Death Metal probably share more in common with the White Stripes, the most striking similarity being the lack of bass (or at least the bass being mixed so low that it’s barely audible).

Essentially, what we have on the non-death metal band’s debut, Peace Love Death Metal (Rekords Rekords/Ant Acid), is a fun, lo-fi, bass-less indie rock trio infused with a musicality and sense of humor that overshadows the limited drumming abilities of Josh Homme, much in the same way that the White Stripes’ musicality and strong grip on the blues overshadows Meg White’s technical deficiencies.

Yes, you heard right. Josh Homme plays drums in this band, not guitar!
The simple drum beats serve as the bedrock for some rockin’ excursions that serve mostly to entertain, rather than to shake up the music scene or set some new trends. Fortunately, there are plenty entertaining moments present on the album.

The opening burst of crude garage rock, “I Only Want You,” carries with it the same sort of lusty vibe as “I Wanna Make It Wit Chu,” from the latest installment of Mr. Homme’s “Desert Sessions” series. This time, however, the Jesse Hughes written and sung tune carries with it a quicker tempo and some Elvis-like vocal flourishes that give it an extra fun mule-kick.

The most memorable moments for my tastes, however, come in the form of the quartet of tunes that form the front end of what would be side two of the LP, should a vinyl edition see the light of day.

The first of these little gems is a stripped down but very spirited cover of Steelers Wheel’s sole hit single, “Stuck in the Middle With You.” This bit of harmless fun is followed by “Already Died,” whose failed-relationship lyrics are synched with a really catchy tune. Had it been given a heavier treatment, this could have been a Queens of the Stone Age track. This stands as the strongest connection to Homme’s roots with the Queens.

“Kiss The Devil,” whose obviously tongue-in-cheek lyrics certainly bear the influence of the concept of death metal lyrics, is cheekily filtered through a sing-along pop sensibility that makes for a hilarious song.

Death metal music does occasionally praise Satan, but no self-respecting metal head would find him- or herself singing, “I kiss the Devil / I kiss his tongue / I kiss the Devil on his tongue.”

If, after listening to Peace Love Death Metal, you feel inclined to ask yourself, “what are these guys smoking?” I cannot speculate as to what the answer to that question is. However, knowing Josh Homme’s history with two of the greatest so-called “stoner rock” bands, Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age, one need only use a little bit of imagination to come up with some plausible answers.

Meanwhile, for those itching for something that sounds more like the mighty Queens, I highly recommend the two discs released by recently ousted Queens bassist Nick Oliveiri’s band Mondo Generator. While Cocaine Rodeo (Southern Lord) is a collection of demos performed almost in their entirety by Oliveiri, they still sound like lost Queens outtakes. In fact, a sludgy early rendition of Rated R’s “Tension Head” opens the disc.

This version’s groove is much nastier than its polished Rated R (Interscope) counterpart.

More recently, last year’s A Drug Problem That Never Existed (Rekords Rekords/Ipecac) established Mondo Generator as an actual working band, and fortunately provided an outlet for Oliveiri to devote his free time following his departure from the Queens. Though recorded before his ouster, it’s hard not to hear a tone of defiance related to the unfortunate turn of events in the Queens when Nick screams the chorus (and also the title) of the album’s seventh track, “f#@k you, I’m free!”

April 20, 2004
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