Muchas Gracias: The Best Of

This hastily-assembled display is still a few ribs short of a complete anatomy.

It’s a heavy irony, probably not lost on the ex-members of Kyuss, that theirs has become such a hot rock name to drop this year. Back in 1990, Californian misfits John Garcia, Josh Homme, Nick Oliveri and Brant Bjork named themselves after a character from the Dungeons & Dragons fiend folio. Despite their token kinship to grunge, they were deeply unfashionable and split up after four albums, out of intense frustration at the ‘Dookie’-buying public ignoring their ruggedly Mesozoic groove.

However, in the wake of Queens Of The Stone Age’s success, and the on-going subterranean rumble of the stoner rock scene, Kyuss have been belatedly held up as stoner’s alpha and omega. They were the first band in two decades to bring blues riffs, Sabbath simplicity and a hundredweight of hot desert sand into metal, and the last (barring the Queens’ pop hybrid) to do it well. As legacies go, it ain’t bad. This record, however, doesn’t quite do that legacy justice.

Despite being sub-titled ‘The Best Of’, ‘Muchas Gracias…’ isn’t Kyuss’ definitive eulogy. It’s a fossil record of outtakes, B-sides, alternate versions and live tracks thrown together in Germany. As such, it’s no substitute for rushing out to buy ‘Blues For The Red Sun’ or ‘Welcome To Sky Valley’ once Josh Homme’s igneous Queens guitar lines have burned a mark into your speakers. The Deep Purpley, galumphing eight minutes-plus of ‘Un Sandpiper’, for example, is strictly for fans only, as is a live version of ‘Thumb’ that meanders off into a pit of viscous chugging.

But Kyuss’ heavy-lidded essence [I]is[/I] here: in ‘Shine’s doomy ebb and flow, in the motorik grunge of ’50 Million Year Trip (Downside Up)’ and the wild boogie of ‘I’m Not’. Rocking does happen, and happens sinuously. But Kyuss’ remains are essential material, and this hastily-assembled display is still a few ribs short of a complete anatomy.

Kitty Empire

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