Hearing Queens of the Stone Age's long out of print debut many years after its initial 1998 release does pack the shock of revelation: Josh Homme’s tightly wound blueprint for QOTSA was in place from the very beginning. Where Homme’s previous outfit, Kyuss, were all about expansion, Queens of the Stone Age were about compression, Homme stripping stoner rock to its essence -- riffs as heavy as granite, solos as spacy as the desert sky. The songs on Queens of the Stone Age are shorter, pulled into focus by grinding fuzz riffs that anchor the proceedings even when the instrumental sections begin to drift into the ether. Another distinguishing factor in Queens of the Stone Age is that Homme writes full-blown songs -- pushing their two best songs, “Regular John” and “Avon,” to the front, giving them room to float later on -- so the album isn’t just about instrumental interaction, but the crucial difference is that this isn’t music solely for disaffected males. There is sex and swagger to Queens of the Stone Age, there’s a swing to the rhythms, there’s a darkly enveloping carnal menace buttressed by muscle and lust that keeps the album from being an insular stoner headpiece. Certainly, there’s enough sinewy force to suggest the mighty brawn of Rated R and Songs for the Deaf; Homme retained enough of the desert spaciness of Kyuss to give Queens of the Stone Age an otherworldly shimmer, a hazy quality he later abandoned for aggressive precision, so this winds up as a unique record in his catalog, a place where you can hear Homme’s past and future intertwining.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine