This is not an album – this is a cataclysmic event. Four of the greatest rock bands of all time: Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Foo Fighters and Queens Of The Stone Age, chewed up by some colossal mechanical grinder and spat into the faces of the radio friendly pop-rock acts of today. This awe inspiring collaboration is Them Crooked Vultures, and it is the hard rock lover’s wet-dream made reality.
With Dave Grohl returning to drums with ruthless power, Joshua Homme’s unique vocal style and lead guitar taking precedence and John Paul Jones’ multi-instrumental talent and post-funk bass lines holding the entire thing together, this is not so much a collection of 13 songs as it is an hour long rock experience that will challenge, frustrate and elate you; before finally pounding you into deafened submission.
The album sears with a raw intensity capable of burning flesh, ranging from riff driven alternative rock through post-punk noise to blues: but don’t get too comfortable. Even the blues has been crammed, blindfolded, into a transit van and charged headfirst through a brick wall.
Grohl’s return to familiar turf on drums is reason to celebrate alone, proving that he still possesses the force necessary to reduce a kit to splinters while putting all other drummers on the contemporary circuit to shame. Homme effectively resurrects the raw sound that made early Queens shine with volatile magnificence through the post-grunge dregs of the late 90s. Jones is nothing short of a genius who seems to have materialised from a distant past when it was the music that truly mattered. The last great bassist.
Despite the magnificent noise and tyrannical aggression of Them Crooked Vultures, there is an undeniable professional quality, an artistry, which one can only expect from an album that is produced by a trio of the genre’s elite. Throughout the record it is clear that the creators are getting a huge amount of enjoyment out of working together; an emotion that is then transferred directly into the listener. It is this balance of creative gusto with gutsy subject matter that evolves what could be yet another pretentious collaboration into a work that prioritises hard rock living ethics before the importance of a profound meaning.
One obstacle that the album has faced is the amateur critic’s habit to instinctively judge it against its predecessors, and it is this mentality that has resulted in an unfair share of less-than-favourable reviews. Expecting one album to conquer the entire discography of the bands that came before goes beyond mere optimism; it is total idiocy. Though it obviously does not even mark the edge of Zeppelin’s legacy alone, what the three have produced is an album that purposely alienates itself from the garbage that currently infests the charts.
To call this a comfortable listen would be an outright lie, but let the retired enjoy the monotony of comfort. Fire up your loudest speakers and blast away the cold, commerce-fuelled festive season with the sheer force of Them Crooked Vultures. Find out more here