Words About Music
Vista Chino “Peace”
Back in the 90s, an exciting thing was happening to heavy metal that was not black metal. It was this new vein of doom metal that was somewhat jokingly dubbed “stoner metal,” mostly due to the weed-based lyricism and the overall aesthetic of a lot of the tracks. These bands included the highly influential Sleep, Electric Wizard, and Kyuss, the latter of which went to become the most famous, mostly due to band-member Josh Homme’s post-Kyuss endeavors. Well, before Josh Homme was in Queens of the Stone Age, he was the guitarist of one of the best bands of the 90s, and when a Kyuss reunion was announced in 2010 (15 years after they’d not-so-amicably broken up), excitement and hype was at high, no pun intended. Well, as it happens, Homme was not a part of the Kyuss reunion. It started as a solo tour of lead singer John Garcia, who was touring under the title “Garcia Plays Kyuss.” Former Kyuss members Brant Bjork (drummer) and Nick Oliveri (bassist) also joined Garcia for a few songs on select dates. This resulted in what was shortly known as Kyuss Lives!, a live band that included Garcia, Bjork, and Oliveri, along with guest guitarist Bruno Fevery. Former bassist Scott Reeder also played a few dates with the band, too, before joining Josh Homme in suing Kyuss Lives!, forcing them to change their name to the much cheesier Vista Chino. This brings us up to speed on Sorta Kyuss, as they have just released their first album, “Peace.” And, surprisingly, it doesn’t suck.
While Sleep’s Al Cisneros sang in an almost indecipherable growl and Electric Wizard’s Jus Osborn sang in a shrieking howl, John Garcia opted for a more Chris Cornell type approach to singing, by which I mean he actually had a great singing voice. And Garcia’s voice has not dropped in quality even a little bit in the 15 years since he’s recorded an album with any of Kyuss’ former members. “Peace” is as slow-burning and heavy as anything Kyuss ever put out, but of course it does kind of lack that real Kyuss vibe that the band’s best albums had. Maybe it’s because Josh Homme disapproves of this project and doesn’t have a part in it, but something about Vista Chino feels weird, and it’s not just the name of the band itself.
Now don’t get me wrong, “Peace” is a solid release from some of the most important figures in stoner doom’s glory days. But those glory days have since faded, making “Peace” feel more like that new Black Sabbath album then it has any right to. Thankfully John Garcia’s voice hasn’t suffered the same fate as Ozzy’s and these tracks still feel somewhat genuine. “Peace” just feels like some friends got together to make music “for old time’s sake” and not because they were interested in continuing the legacy of Kyuss. It just sort of makes these songs forgettable, and I guarantee that in a month’s time I will forget about “Peace” like I forgot about albums like “13” and “Mosquito” and “Indicud,” all three of which came out this year by the way.
Now, “Peace” does make me feel grateful. I’m grateful that John Garcia, Brant Bjork, and Nick Oliveri didn’t royally screw up here like some bands this year have done with their reunion releases **cough cough PIXIES cough**, but I really can’t properly express just how bad I want a real Kyuss record. I’d love for Josh to set aside his difference with Brant and John and come back to the band. He’s obviously cool with Nick Oliveri again since Oliveri provided some guest vocals to the awesome new Queens of the Stone Age record, but, as Garcia has said, “there is never going to be a Kyuss without Josh Homme.” “Peace” is a solid release, but it does sort of prove that point. It could be better, it could be way worse. If anything, it’s a groovy desert metal record from some of great 90s dudes, and maybe we’ll see the day where Kyuss does live. Until then, “Peace” is the best we’ve got. And it could be a hell of a lot worse.
SCORE – 7.1
FAVORITE TRACKS – Dargona Dragona, Sweet Remain, Planets 1&2, Dark and Lovely, Barcelonian, Acidize… The Gambling Moose
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