Although the latest Queens Of The Stone Age release Songs For The Deaf seems to be getting all the press these days, the previous album Rated R, in my opinion, ranks as their best release. And I hold Songs For The Deaf in pretty high regard, so that’s saying something. This album is way more experimental than your run-of-the-mill stoner rock. Pianos, horns, and electronic effects are pulled out for effect while Josh Homme digs deep into his bag of guitar riffs and comes up with a memorable, headbangable one for each track. The lyrics are typical QOTSA–ironic, intelligent, funny, and drug-induced. Most of the songs are kept short and to the point, and never lose their punch. And my, what diversity. Loud Olivieri screamers (Tension Head), straightahead yet left-of-center rock (Leg Of Lamb, Autopilot), a floaty little instrumental (Lightning Song), a brilliant number featuring Mark Lanegan on vocals (In The Fade), Sabbath-esque lumbering rock (I Think I Lost My Headache), and just all-out trippiness (Better Living Through Chemistry, Monsters In The Parasol), it’s amazing what this band can do with just a 42-minute run time. While there is one weak song (the aptly titled Quick And To The Pointless), it’s not enough to keep me from giving Rated R 5 stars. Whether you’re a QOTSA fan, a Kyuss fan, or just love alternative or stoner rock, this is one of the best-executed albums I’ve heard lately. Highly reccommended.