Perhaps no band mastered sludgy, desert-style rock like Kyuss, and “Welcome To Sky Valley” may well be the best evidence of that fact. Everything just came together for them on this album: epic songwriting, infectious grooves, and killer instrumental chops. While there are definite nods here to Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, Kyuss transcended their influences to create a unique sound that’s just a sheer blast to listen to. While this album’s predecessor “Blues For The Red Sun” has generated a bit more acclaim, if you want to get into Kyuss I suggest you start here.With the exception of the brief (but funny) closer “Whitewater,” “Welcome To Sky Valley” is composed of a mere three tracks, each topping fourteen minutes and subdivided into three sections. In other words, the beginnings and ends of the tracks are pretty much arbitrary. They do have one common denominator, though: they all rule. Each one is rich in experimentation and variety, encompassing hard-driving metal, trippy extended jams, and even some gentle acoustic passages. What really elevated Kyuss to the top of the stoner/desert rock heap was the stunning virtuosity of the musicians, especially guitarist Josh Homme. I love Queens of the Stone Age, but I had no idea how good a guitarist Josh was until I started listening to Kyuss. His work with this band really is like nothing else I’ve ever heard. His riffs are often crushingly heavy, but they’re also some of the most catchy and memorable in all of rock, and his leads are just as good. Brant Bjork’s drumming is every bit as impressively technical as on “Blues For The Red Sun,” and Scott Reeder’s bass mirrors the guitars perfectly to add some extra heaviness. And John Garcia’s wailed, gravelly vocals are the perfect complement to the band’s sound. What’s more, the production is absolutely perfect, allowing you to hear every nuance of the music without abandoning the fuzzy stoner vibe that’s so essential in the genre. So anyway, rock fans of all stripes can’t go wrong with Kyuss. With boring, wimpy Seattle-lite and nu-metal bands clogging the airwaves, bands like this one are a useful reminder of what rock music is supposed to be. So if you don’t already own it, pick up “Welcome To Sky Valley” today. And while you’re at it, grab “Blues For The Red Sun.” Oh, and their farewell “…And The Circus Leaves Town” is good too. So just get all three.