The word “super group” gets thrown around a lot – so I won’t use it. Them Crooked Vultures is a near perfect union of 3 monster talents: Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age), Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters), and John Paul Jones (from this little band called Led Zeppelin). Josh’s buzz saw guitar attack and smooth, cocky vocals marry up with Jones’ crushing bass lines and Dave’s pounding drums perfectly. It actually sounds much like a QOTSA album with a little more wiggle room for playing outside the stoner riff-rock that they mastered. Dave Grohl is at his best behind the drum kit and even better when drumming with Queens or the Vultures. Foo Fighters are OK, but bland and mediocre when compared to QOTSA and Nirvana’s best stuff. The Foos are just mainstream, meathead arena rock. QOTSA’s albums are all great, but the most powerful delivery was Songs for the Deaf with Dave playing drums.
Them Crooked Vultures self-titled album is an unrelenting, visceral attack of coolness. “No One Loves Me and Neither Do I” is the first track on the album and a good introduction. It’s raw, grinding and has a nasty little riff change towards the end accompanied by a giant bass drum stomp in a simple and effective 2/4 drum signature. This aggressive change is tailored to make you gnash your teeth and bob your head. “New Fang” continues the Queens-ish sound with a bouncing rock riff and punctuating stops, but with a more “classic” rock feel – almost sounding like early KISS in places. “Elephants” pushes the album harder with an insanely escalating intro giving way to more juicy riffage, then back down to a gentle, soaring bridge. It brings the escalation back at the end in a swirl of face-punching glory. By the time the record gets to “Bandoliers,” they begin to break new ground. This song in particular sounds like the summation of all the parts. “Reptiles” has an undeniably Zeppelin feel. There is some acoustic and southern-sounding slide accompanying the “Immigrant Song-like” groove that played through these vessels takes on an identity of its own. “Gunman” is heavy and funky in that Josh Homme sort of way, meaning that tunes with funk and groove still come across relentlessly heavy. Them Crooked Vultures delivers some serious swagger and the rock balls to back it up.
Originally appeared in REAX Online, January 15th, 2010