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These Queens arent Through the Woods Yet

By Leor Galil

Section: Arts

December 2, 2005

No one knows exactly how Queens of the Stone Age truly managed to capture the mainstream music world and rise to the top of the heap of modern hard rock. Most modern mainstream rock tends to stray from complex and eccentrically composed rock behemoth sized songs, yet Queens, and their politicized-metal peers who comprise System of a Down, have managed to find their way into the hearts of music fans everywhere and have risen above the many pop-metal artists who arose out of the nu-metal explosion of the late 90s to lead society into their uniquely new world of rock. To celebrate their glory, Queens of the Stone Age have released their first live DVD (and CD), a collection of live performances centered around two performances in London which were filmed this past summer, entitled Over the Years and Through the Woods.

Playing into frontman Josh Hommes current fetish with the wilderness, Through the Woods was made to deftly document the rise of the ingenious band once seen as an indie art-metal act, an odd and entertaining carnival act of music surrounded by nu-metal acts in several Ozzfests. While Through the Woods provides an interesting compilation for Queens fans, it unfortunately fails at its attempts to show the marvelous rise of one of the most ingenious groups to arrive to the music scene in a decade. While the title may try to convince some people of this, slightly harkening back to the days when Queens of the Stone Age was simply Homme and former Queens bass player Nick Oliveri playing music with friends in the middle of the desert before forming Kyuss and eventually Queens of the Stone Age, on the surface, the DVD is nothing more than a front for Hommes musical madness. This is all capitalized within the Through the Woods ideal of the compilations title, revealing not only the strong crutch of the live aspect of the DVD rests on Queens latest release, Lullabies to Paralyze (the only CD not featuring Oliveri), but also a representation of the sense of darkness that the band has been pressed into as much of its image, especially its live image, has been changed since Oliveris departure.

The CD portion of the package is rather interesting at best, but it, along with the entire package to a greater extent, is most likely intended for the hardcore Queens of the Stone Age fans, considering it hardly does justice to capture the essence of the band in a live performance. The CD manages to highlight a good portion from each of the four Queens of the Stone Age albums, as well as a special song unreleased by Homme under the Queens pseudonym, I Wanna Make It Wit Chu, a song from Hommes Desert Sessions side project. The CD does manage to have a few good songs on it, such as Tangled up in Plaid off of Lullabies to Paralyze. Unfortunately, the bad set of songs outweighs the good. Homme fails to make up for Mark Lanegans absence on Song for the Dead, as his bizarre falsetto cannot compensate for Lanegans gruff vocals, and their hit No One Knows is drawn out entirely too long.

The real interesting potion of Through the Woods is the DVD;

while it still can never effectively capture the raw power that Queens of the Stone Age manage to hold in a live scene, it does manage to provide some interesting highlights throughout their performances. The DVD is packed with some of the better songs from the Queens library, but unfortunately the main performance on the DVD fails at some of them. Once again, this is thanks in part to the absence of Oliveri, who truly drives the songs as much as Homme: Homme falls on his face trying to play Feel Good Hit of the Summer without Oliveris frantic backing vocals, and No One Knows fails without Oliveris masterful and carefully played bass solo. Still, some gems on the main attraction of the DVD include Hommes acoustic rendition of This Lullaby at the beginning of the performance, and the strange intertwining of footage of the band throughout the years.
Truly the best part of the entire package is the bonus section of the DVD, which features archival footage of performances of the band after each album release. For those who never had the chance to see the band in its truest form can catch a glimpse of it to see Homme truly place himself in the music with Oliveri at his side screaming the lyrics to You Think I Aint Worth A Dollar, but I Feel Like a Millionaire, with every member of the crowd enthusiastically bouncing along. And, of course, Dave Grohl is there too, pounding away at the drums like animal.

Most live DVDs tend not to truly exemplify the best of the bands ability to play live, but Over the Years and Through the Woods, although a rather interesting piece for the above-average Queens fan, fails to represent the bands ingenuity and show what a force the band is live. The best possible explanation for this may be just because half the heart of Queens is missing in Oliveris absence and the unique friction, turmoil, and musical tension which filled every Queens song, live and recorded, until his absence is in itself now absent.
As the DVD closes with Long Slow Goodbye, images of the band throughout the years is flashed across the screen, the most provocative of which is Oliveri prancing naked in front of a massive crowd in Rio in 2001, and smashing his bass to pieces: This only shows a fraction of the utter passion that Oliveri placed into the band, and shows so much that is currently lost in the band since Songs for the Deaf. If anything, Over the Years and Through the Woods isnt a historical account of Queens of the Stone Age, but a wake up call to Homme to stop his ego-centric musical monopolizing of the band and think about taking Oliveri back.

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