[NOTE: This is mostly just a repost. I wanted to correct my original four-star rating since this is a truly awesome release and definitely worthy of highest marks.]
If the members of Blue Cheer had parked their giant Marshall amps in the middle of the Mojave desert during a sandstorm, they would sound something like this. It’s oppressively heavy and even FEELS hot; images of being stranded in Death Valley with no water come to mind when I play this disc. In my opinion, Blues For The Red Sun is the pinnacle of Kyuss’ criminally neglected output (though Welcome To Sky Valley and swansong When The Circus Leaves Town seriously challenge that assertion).
I learned of this band through the spinoff group Queens Of The Stone Age, and figured I would like this. Josh Homme (guitar) and Nick Olivieri (bass) are both present here, but from that point the similarities end. The vocals are handled by John Garcia, who is a much raspier singer than Homme, and Brant Bjork’s crashing percussion provides the backbeat. What Kyuss lacks in QOTSA’s subtlety and diversity, it more than makes up for in heaviness. Homme’s guitar cuts through the bass-heavy sludge and fuzz with some truly inspired playing–there’s a standout melody on every track, something that doesn’t always come naturally to bands in this genre. It’s hard to believe that he was only 19 when this album was recorded, because most guitarists would KILL to play anywhere near Josh’s ability.
Blues For The Red Sun opens with the collosal Thumb, and then changes gears with the more uptempo anthem Green Machine. Following that are a lot of instrumentals (Molten Universe, Apothecaries’ Weight, Catepillar March), the hilarious Thong Song (“I hate…slow songs”), the sinister Writhe, and the thrashing Allen’s Wrench. The centerpiece of the album is the 7 1/2 minute Freedom Run; not much to say, it just RAWKS, as does the rest of this album. The only soft moment comes with the beautiful acoustic interlude Capsized, but it doesn’t last long before the electricity and distortion return to beat you down. The closer Mondo Generator (yeah, I know it’s not the last song but the last track’s an obvious joke) is one of the few tracks I used to think was subpar; now it’s one of my favorites. Olivieri’s vocals are distorted into an echoey, ghostly scream while the band powerfully rocks out behind him. It’s atmospheric, almost creepy.
Fans of QOTSA, stoner rock fans, and anyone wanting a heavy, rocking album will definitely find Blues For The Red Sun extremely appealing. Essential, as is the rest of Kyuss’s work (barring Wretch).