So exactly one year ago I wrote a review for this album that went like this:
“Good lord this went way harder on the second playthrough, loved every minute of it. I'm not that familiar with QotSA's earlier discography, but this definitely seems like them approaching near perfection of their craft.”
This was around the time of when I first joined AOTY, and to provide some context the day I wrote that review it was snowing like a motherfucker here in Chicago, and I remember that day surprisingly well. There I was, taking the train back home from school during my second listen and as I was waiting in the outdoor Howard station for the Yellow Line train I was just having my face obliterated by snow and my ears were also being obliterated by this album and everything about it just clicked. It was definitely an experience I don’t think I’ll ever be able to relive. Today, it is once again snowing like a motherfucker, but this time I’m in the comfort of my own home and I feel like I’m a bit more capable of writing a review that can do more justice to this album than just two sentences.
So, where do I start? QotSA’s discography, I’ve familiarized myself with it a bit more and I definitely still do love and enjoy their work, even when they don’t provide a lot of substance or depth in songwriting like on Era Vulgaris or their self-titled they still have hard as fuck riffs that are absolutely mindnumbing sometimes. To me what really sets ...Like Clockwork apart from the rest of their work is it’s sheer ability to smoothly transition between so many different emotions and textures in sound so breathtakingly. It’s honestly nuts that this album was even made as frontman Josh Homme had a near-death experience just a few years prior due to drug complications, with a lot of the album alluding to that event.
The kickoff for this album, Keep Your Eyes Peeled, feels like a goddamn earthquake is happening at the very beginning until it quickly pans into that monstrous riff, and that breakdown right after the second chorus of “If life is but a dream, Wake me” is even more insane, and you’re telling me this is just the first track? More, please (93/100).
I Sat By The Ocean is the soundtrack to running away from all your problems as well as the solutions to said problems, this is just unapologetic stoner rock at it’s finest really (98/100).
If there was only one song I was allowed to stare out windows and dissociate and/or cry to, The Vampyre of Time and Memory would probably be it for me. It’s usage of more simple piano balladry at the beginning provides a tonal shift which helps pack such an emotional punch from the getgo with the opening line of “I want God to come, and take me home, cause I'm all alone, in this crowd” which honestly just fucks my shit up everytime. When it finally does transition to it’s more stoner rock sound in the second half Homme feels almost indifferent to the root of all of his personal troubles, with the line on the third verse “I'm alive, hooray” sounding intentionally unenthusiastic and divorced from reality being another crowning moment in this song (98/100).
If I Had A Tail is surprisingly enough not about being a furry, but even if it were it still wouldn’t take away from how badass a song this is (100/100).
I wouldn’t really consider myself a heathen per se, but my God does My God Is The Sun make me consider it with that scorcher of a bassline and Dave Grohl just absolutely killing it on the drums, and man does that chorus feel like divine wrath being struck down on you (HEEEAAALLL THEMM, LIKE FIRE FROM A GUN). Good shit as always (95/100).
Kalopsia starts off with another tonal shift similar to Vampyre of Time and Memory, but this time it definitely comes off as a bit more introspective, with the eventual beat switch up being a lot more intense but cathartic. In a way it kind of reminds me of the “reject humanity, embrace monke” meme with it’s more anti-societal lyrics (Homme literally says “Forget those mindless baboons” so it makes sense to me, don’t question it), all topped off with some great production by Trent Reznor, it’s still somehow not my favorite off the album but I can’t find much to complain about it (90/100).
The weakest song on this album still somehow manages to be a complete slapper with Fairweather Friends which has some star-studded vocals from Elton John and Trent Reznor in the last chorus. It’s all very nice but I can’t really explain why I don’t like it as much. It just is that way I guess (85/100).
Stuck right in the middle of the second half of the album is Smooth Sailing, with it’s more bluesy style of production sounding like something either early Black Keys or Royal Blood could have ended up making, but Josh Homme’s crooning voice over this track is really something else as he seems willing to risk it all on a dodgy bet not really caring if he wins or loses, blowing his load all over the status quo (✋his words, not mine✋). It kind of reminds me of the Gamestop WSB situation now that I think about it (ignore the fact I lost $180 buying in at $215, Diamond Hands forever baby). The intensity ramps up once again in the second half making it another one of those unskippable tracks (93/100).
I can’t really think of a word to describe I Appear Missing other than cataclysmic, and likewise the title track ...Like Clockwork feels post-cataclysmic, I really can’t find more words to describe them other than that other than spectacular (both 100/100).
It also goes without saying that the cover art of this album is absolutely lovely with it’s bright red and black contrast, it also sounds great on vinyl and yeah, it’s a pretty amazing album. It’s the type of stuff you only get once in a generation, and I’m positive 30 years from now it’ll have aged like a fine wine.
To conclude on a side note, I just wanted to say thanks for 700 followers, it’s been 2 months since I hit 600 and it really does mean a lot to me. I know I don’t really upload reviews that frequently anymore and it’s honestly not really as much as I would like to and I hope to be able to change that. But anyways, I just wanna say I love this community, I love this site, stay safe, peace y’all.