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Dawn of an institution - 95%

we hope you die, May 14th, 2021

Josh Homme of Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age notoriety famously rejected the stoner rock label. Rife with subtext that this is music exclusively by and for stoners, to be enjoyed whilst high. But it seems the more you resist, the stickier the tagline becomes. Kyuss are now considered one of the archetypal stoner bands to this day in spite of – or maybe because of – the short lifespan of their original incarnation. But people have a habit of reading too far into the subtext of genre labels. The value of words in this context can be measured solely through their shared meaning. As long as we have a common understanding of what “stoner” means in a musical context the label serves a purpose.

Sometimes there’s no substitute for young blood. And in 1992 Kyuss were still young indeed when they put out their second effort ‘Blues for the Red Sun’. This is a band fraught with legend. From the mythology of gigs held in the Californian desert spearheaded by Mario Lalli and his band Yawning Man, to their adoption by Chris Goss of Masters of Reality fame, who took guitarist Josh Homme under his wing and became a long time collaborator, beginning with his production job on this album. Since that time Kyuss has become the creation myth of a desert rock institution stretching from flame of 21st Century heavy rock Queens of the Stone Age, to the raw punk energy of Nick Olivera’s Mondo Generator, to the trippy roundtable jams of The Desert Sessions. It’s a journey that has involved some of modern rocks most famous faces from Soundgarden to Dave Grohl to PJ Harvey, and even John Paul Jones.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s sit back and look at where much of this began, with an album called ‘Blues for the Red Sun’ back in 1992. Following the energetic but childishly sloppy debut ‘Wretch’ (1991) comes this surprisingly mature and diverse work. There is still evidence of youth and simplicity throughout, most notably in some of the dry humour of the lyrics, the playful fretboard slides of ‘Thong Song’, and the decision to end the album with a track called ‘Yeah’, which is just vocalist John Garcia saying “yeah”. So far, so on trend for the deadpan sarcasm of early 90s Gen X alt rock. But Kyuss were shooting for something more ambitious here. A swirly haze of muddy guitar tones, riffs diving to the heaviest grooves possible to fit alongside the delicate clean arpeggios and idiosyncratic melodic inflections cutting across the murk.

John Garcia’s vocals are equally capable of switching from the throaty bark of American heavy rock to ethereal, melodic lines shaped by elongated notes that fly over the swirly riffs beneath him. Brant Bjork’s drumming switches from punk overdrive to the repetition of complex and lengthy patterns in the blink of an eye, adding a layer of depth as well as solidity to a mix that sometimes threatens to fall apart completely.

The threat of entropy comes chiefly from Nick Olivera’s bass. His was the most metallic influence on the band, being a fan of Motorhead and Slayer as well as old school punk. Whether its dirty stoner rock held together by the loosest of grooves on ‘Green Machine’ or the epic desert rock of ’50 Million Year Trip (Downside Up)’ his overpowering bass is a constant presence throughout. Josh Homme was still finding his feet as a guitarist on this album, and whilst his unique character as a musician already shines through here, he often opts to simply ride along with Olivera’s bass, with both instruments fudging together in a wall of sloppy psychedelia.

That being said, Kyuss are surprisingly experimental for a stoner band, and a young one at that. This is no mere presentation of static textures inviting us to switch off for fifty minutes. There’s the heavy punk battering ram of ‘Allen’s Wrench’, the driving, pulsing rhythms of the instrumental ‘Caterpillar March’ set in perfect contrast to the eerie guitar noise intro to ‘Freedom Run’ before the Led Zepplin grooves kick in. It’s debatable whether Kyuss only truly managed to fully articulate their vision of creating music worthy of the awesome desert landscapes that were their chief inspiration on the follow up ‘Welcome to Sky Valley’. And whilst it’s true that that album is a masterpiece of heavy rock, both riff-laden and atmospheric, it is on ‘Blues for the Red Sun’ that we see a band co-opting many different colours of rock and making them their own. Whichever style they turn their hands to it still comes out sounding like Kyuss.

These were teenagers fresh out of the desert with no concern for tradition, looking to push the boundaries of the known world of heavy rock. Kyuss fans can be guilty of overhyping their limited body of work. If for no other reason than it being the creation myth of one of the institutions of modern American rock music. But these albums remain special, offering an experience no other artist has quite been able to match for immersion alongside playful variety.

Originally published at Hate Meditations

Kyuss Lives! - 100%

enshrinedtemple, May 14th, 2016

A Kyuss masterpiece is really all you need to say about this album. This album and Sky Valley are commonly associated with being the pinnacle of desert or stoner metal. While I slightly prefer BFTRS over SV, you can’t go wrong with either one. Now that Wretch was in the past, Kyuss would expand their sound and their legacy. They captured lightning in a bottle with this release with each musician being at the top of their game.

The musicians, the production and the overall music is improved so much from Wretch and that is saying quite a bit. Josh Homme plays the role of guitar virtuoso. He plays with soul and he plays with an intense fire. Every guitar lead is melt your face off heavy. The album has different vibes that take the listener to different places and a lot of that has to do with what Homme did for BFTRS. Just looking at one example the song Writhe has that heaviness then all of a sudden Capsized kicks in and cools things off with a slick acoustic interlude. Freedom Run’s intro is this ridiculous guitar feedback reminds one of Jimi Hendrix and all of his glory. There is so much to offer on the album as a whole and Josh Homme proves that he has figured out how to create art at a higher level.

While Josh Homme definitely turns things up to 11, the other musicians may be somewhat overshadowed. The bass is fine and the drums are fine. It may be the fact that Homme is just on absolute fire that he dilutes the other band members on most of the songs. Molten Universe is a definite exception to that rule. It’s an ultra-heavy instrumental that pummels the listener like a volcano. The drums and the bass just ooze with power. Garcia is a great singer with an instantly recognizable voice. There is really not much criticism or praise that I can give beyond that, he is always doing his thing and doing it well. I wonder how he would sound on the song Mondo Generator if he had that voice distortion going on like Nick Oliveri did.

Onto the lyrics, they are somewhat of a mixed bag. I personally enjoy the tongue in cheek stuff that Josh homme writes for the album. Thong Song is a bit silly especially in contrast with the serious heaviness that the album punches. Sometimes, the lyrics are just a simple “Yeah” from Mr. Garcia. I think if there was a weak spot on this album it would have to be the lyric department. Luckily enough, the music provides much of the talking. Brant Bjork the drummer made a lot of contributions to this album in the lyrics department along with Homme. It is interesting that Garcia did not write too much when he is the one singing and all he does is sing.

That signature desert feel is found for the first time in the career of Kyuss. Songs like Freedom Run are perfect for driving along a desert highway. It’s not something I have ever been able to do, but if I ever cruised down a desert highway, I would have Kyuss playing no matter what. Blues for the Red Sun is the closest thing I can get to experiencing that desert feeling. This element of Kyuss is what makes them so special. Being able to transform someone to another place with their music makes this album special. The true diversity of Kyuss is also found for the first time. Each track is a piece of the puzzle because they all have a purpose or something to add to the mood of the song. When I listen to Blues for the Red Sun, I understand why the band wanted to consider it their first real project. It is a much more polished and mature record overall even with some of the quirky humorous moments. It will forever stand the test of time as one of the quintessential desert stoner metal albums.

Hit and miss - 70%

gasmask_colostomy, October 13th, 2015

I've never understood exactly what's so special about Kyuss. Sure, stoner rock is not my favourite genre, but I'm not averse to a bit of grooving guitar and psychedelia. There are bands both on the metal side of the spectrum and the lighter end that I appreciate playing this style: Sleep, Cathedral, and even those sick bastards Electric Wizard; then Monster Magnet, Colour Haze, and Queens of the Stone Age, who were Josh Homme's more commercially oriented project after Kyuss split. It's just that Kyuss were never the most interesting or exciting of stoner bands for me, even though they were there at the start of the movement.

I remember one of my friends explaining the theory of stoner rock to me. He said that the repeating guitar riffs were present because, once the listener has taken a hit of weed, it's easy for them to concentrate on the constant rhythm and groove, so that the music attains greater and greater significance as it develops. That might be true or not, but one can still enjoy this music without getting high and the quality should be equally satisfying in a sober state. Kyuss do have plenty of those repeating riff parts, though they are a jam band too, make no mistake, with a hell of a lot of offshoots from any given section of the music. All three instrumentalists have time and space to add their own adventures to the general sound, creating a swirling, frequently psychedelic atmosphere of light and shade that could be engrossing or relaxing depending on one's mood. The jamming gives the album a very loose, unfocused feel, since it includes a lot of instrumental time. Some of those passages seems superfluous and unstructured, as if the initial jam that produced the ideas was good, but needed to be tightened up before it was finally released, so I occasionally feel like the band are wasting time.

'Blues for the Red Sun' runs the gamut from aggressive punkish fuzz and snarl to blissed out Hendrix parts, which would be confusing if the whole album wasn't coated in the same scuzzy distortion and sandy visibility. The production isn't too clear, though it's suitable, while the guitar and bass both drop themselves below the horizon and move across the dunes, kicking up dust in an indistinct trail. It produces a decent groove and there's a big kick when they plunge together on 'Thumb' and 'Green Machine', but Homme using a bass amp swallows some of his nuance, actually over-accentuating the simple riffs and making me wonder if anyone would like to criticize 'Green Machine' or 'Writhe' on nu metal grounds. For me, the spacious jamming and the streamlined riffs sometimes don't complement one another, even if, sonically, they have a certain basic satisfaction.

There are a few really great songs on this album, such as the dreamily beautiful '50 Million Year Trip (Downside Up)' and the short instrumentals, 'Caterpillar March' and 'Capsized', both of which could have been expanded into fuller pieces. 'Green Machine' is pretty good, though not the classic it's made out to be, while 'Freedom Run' has some really cool parts, yet isn't consistently gripping. That's kind of the problem with 'Blues for the Red Sun' - it just isn't that consistent. There are plenty of interesting moments, but also enough forgettable and lacklustre parts to make me question the high esteem in which it's held. Give it a listen (you still owe it to yourself to hear this), just don't hold your breath for a revelation - that's how people get dizzy and pass out.

Kyuss on fire! - 100%

Doominance, February 22nd, 2015

Less than a year after their very decent debut album 'Wretch', Kyuss went on to release 'Blues for the Red Sun'; an album often regarded as their finest and one of desert/stoner rock's finest albums as a whole. Whatever Kyuss did in the short time-span between 'Wretch' and 'Blues for the Red Sun' worked, because the music is far better and the members of the band seem to be more confident, since the songs have a natural flow to them and make the album consistently good throughout the whole listen.

The first thing you'll notice in the eerie ambient opening to album starter "Thumb", is that the production seems to have improved. It's not a crystal-clear production, but good enough to show what Kyuss is capable of sounding like. As soon as the guitar kicks in on the opening track, you'll also notice that the band has reduced the "pure punk" sound with more typical stoned heaviness and psychedelia. 'Wretch' was for the most part punk-like and straight-forward with little to no directly psychedelic and trippy moments (bar "Stage III"), but on 'Blues for the Red Sun', it's different.

The heavy psychedelic rock is, like I said, given more power on this album. Songs like "Thumb", "50 Million Year Trip (Downside Up)" and "Freedom Run" prove the significant increase of trippy elements, as well as the instrumental track "Apothecaries' Weight". There are other tracks that combine all the different styles. "Mondo Generator" is a good example of this. A heavy song with hardcore-styled vocals, but manipulated by effects to create a acid-induced atmosphere.

However, the punk influence isn't forgotten. Kyuss classic "Green Machine" and "Allen's Wrench" are fast-paced and straight-forward punk-influenced heavy rockers. No nonsense. "Writhe" is also an interesting tune, since it's not really a psychedelic stoner song, but isn't too punk-influenced either. There's a subtle keyboard that reminds me of The Stooges pretty much driving the verses of the song. A pretty neat touch that adds some variety to the music.

I think that 'Blues for the Red Sun' really brought out what Kyuss were all about. You're not supposed to listen to this and pinpoint what could be done differently and for what reason. It's a raw, energetic piece of heavy rock music that is meant to be listened to just to have a good time, which is something the band definitely had during these days.

In many ways, this is the most honest release that Kyuss ever did (not that there were too many releases), since it captures the essence of the band. I will freely admit that I prefer 'Kyuss (Welcome to Sky Valley' over 'Blues for the Red Sun', but only by a hair, but I can see why this album would be many people's favourite Kyuss release.

Grooves for the Red Sun - 97%

TheZombieXecutioner, February 12th, 2013

Baked by the desert sun, (among other things) stoner metal legends Kyuss release their 'proper debut' Blues for the Red Sun. This album was highly influential for the upcoming stoner clone bands and even some grunge bands of the time. This album is a very expansive piece of work, capturing heavy, groovy riffs dazzled in tight drumming and narrated with psychedelic ideas and themes. Blues for the Red Sun seems a bit before its time when viewed in retrospect, but yet it grasps you in such a familiar way. The band really puts there hearts and soul into the music on this record and isn't some half-assed drugged induced piece of garbage, like most stoner music, but instead you can tell that the band is deeply into the music and what is being played on this record.

John Garcia is on vocals and he's perfect for translating the psychedelic lyrics into the music. Garcia's voice is phenomenal. Ranging from rusty old man, as seen on "Thumb" and "Thong Song", to smooth and clear vocals like that on "Writhe" and "Freedom Run' and even angry and yelling on "Allen's Wrench". Variety is a great trait for a singing to have but Garcia seems to take it to another level by sounding a bit different on every track. Garcia is a great singer and puts a lot of heart and emotion into his voice and it definitely shows on this record. The end result is a very soothing and relaxing vocal style. The final track "Mondo Generator" has some horrid vocals scattered sloppily on the track. This track really ends the album on a sour note and makes you wonder, "WTF WERE THEY THINKING!?!?". I mean come on, the vocals are completely random fuzz boxed screaming and mumbling produced by Nick Oliveri while he tries to deep throat the microphone. Its horrible and makes this the only real low point on the album. The lyrics go hand in hand with vocals, by talking about drugs (go figure) and mostly psychedelic themes. "Thumb" and "Green Machine" are the main drug inspired songs but tracks like "Freedom Run" and "Writhe" favor a more trippy style. "Thong Song" I see as a satire song about commercial music and bands that is rather entertaining and true. "50 Million Year Trip" is a very minimalist song, lyrically, but Garcia is able to take the few words that are offered and make them seem 50 times more meaningful. Garcia is a fantastic singer and his voice is truly made just for the music, while his words make a great vibe for the rest of the music to play around.

Guitarist John Homme shows his ability to channel his inner Hendrix on this album, while still being original. Playing through a bass amp, Homme is able to provide some crushingly heavy riffs like on "Thumb" "Writhe" and "Molten Universe". But is still able to show a more melodic and mid range side on "Apothecaries' Weight", "50 Million Year Trip" and the acoustic tracks "Capsized". Homme's ability to change from one to another is pretty impressive and great grooves deserve a lot more credit than he is given. Homme's solos are also very great, as heard on "50 Million Year Trip"and "Writhe". On "Freedom Run" the heavy riffs are exchanged for a soft and delicate solo that really brings the song together and makes it a center piece for the album. Homme's tone is very nice and the bass amp actually adds a lot of power and intensity to his guitar by supplying a chunky low end. His mid and highs are also very clear and sound great. Looking back Homme's playing is amazing and very underrated, and his tone powered by a bass amp makes it ever more powerful and in your face.

Nick Oliveri on bass also does a fantastic job. Thankfully Oliveri's great bass playing is audible behind the crunchy guitars and pounding drums. "Writhe" has some awesome bass playing backing up the laid back and heavy riffs, and even doodles a bit when the guitar isn't looking. "Green Machine" is another awesome track for the bass. Rumbling loudly behind the riffs, the bass even pops out a bass solo that is very nice to hear. Oliveri's tone is great and clean, with no crappy distortion like most stoner bands. With a great player backing Homme's riffs, this album has a great sense of rhythm and groove provided by the bass.

Brant Bjork is a fabulous drummer that has a great ability to keep catchy beats. "Molten Universe" and "Apothecaries' Weight' have amazing drumming that keeps a tight pocket throughout the song. Very much like Bill Ward, in the sense of catchy beats and awesome fills like on "Freedom Run". The constant cymbal banging is also like Bill Ward and seems to have the same effect. Bjork's drum tone is very clean and natural sounding and his cymbals bring a lot of energy and intensity that makes the music so energetic and powerful. Overall Bjork's drumming is very solid and doesn't let down on a single track.

Except for "Mondo Generator" this album is practically perfect, packing some heavy sun burnt riffs, fantastic vocals, and slamming drums, Blues for the Red Sun is a must have for any Black Sabbath fan, doom metal fan or lover of catchy and well thought out music. Definitely check this album out and its upgraded counterpart, "Sky Valley".

Pure Gold Coming From The American Desert - 99%

Thumbman, June 15th, 2012

Kyuss are the true champions of the desert/stoner rock and metal scenes. Along with Yawning Man they where one of the first bands to play in this style. They harnessed the desert sound better than any other band, truly capturing the landscape. The whole desert thing is certainly no gimmick, they would play gigs in the middle of the desert using generators. This album, as well as the two that came after, is widely influential to many bands that play in the stoner style (though I think desert rock is the best descriptor of Kyuss.)

This album marks the beginning of what Kyuss truly was. Their debut album "Wretch" was pretty bad. "Son of a Bitch" and "Black Widow" were great songs, but as a whole the album pretty much blows. Plagued with horrible production and no shortage of filler, even the band doesn't like it. They go so far as refusing to refer to it as their debut. The production on "Blues for the Red Sun" is better, the songs all have purpose and are varied and filler is nowhere in sight. The production isn't as good as the two albums that follow, but the rawer production totally works here, bringing out the aggression in songs like "Green Machine." "Wretch" couldn't really capture the atmosphere of the desert. In that album there weren't lighter sections used to build up atmosphere. On this album there are many of these and the album wouldn't be as special without them. They really draw you in, creating a hazy sun-soaked feeling which borders on psychedelia. "Capsized" is a perfect example. While many of these sections exist within songs, this one is a short instrumental grounded by an acoustic guitar. It is the audio equivalent of pleasantly drifting off under the desert sun, perhaps while experiencing an altered state of mind.

"Blues for the Red Sun" shows a vast improvement in not only production but also lyrics and musical ability. Everyone involved seems to be better at what they do. This is where rock legend Josh Homme first made his mark. The riffs are killer and the subtler parts he plays are integral to the atmosphere. The leads are mostly laid back and always full of personality. This is the final album Nick Oliveri would play with Kyuss, choosing to leave the band to play with punk band The Dwarves. While I think Scott Reeder was better for Kyuss's sound, Nick was great. His bass intro after the samples die out in "Freedom Run" is classic, it really sets the tone for the song. The bass is an indispensable part of Kyuss's sound. While we are on the subject of bass, it should be noted that while in Kyuss, Josh plugged his guitar into bass amps to get the signature Kyuss guitar tone.

Brant Bjork, who later went on to pursue a solo career, is a beast behind the kit. While his best work is on the next album (check out the drum intro to "Demon Cleaner"), this album shows him coming into his own. His playing always perfectly suits the music it is accompanying. He certainly knows when to be subtle and hold back (sometimes less really is more) and the snare heavy style he uses in more rocking sections works perfectly. Kyuss would not have the same personality without John Garcia's vocals. Powerful and distinctive, he sounds like he has downed a couple shots of whiskey before recording. Crooning "I've seemed to lost my cowboy boots" on "Writhe", he is truly at the top of his game. On this song his vocals are somewhat laid back but come off as more than a bit creepy. On heavy hitter "Green Machine", he really wails, giving a performance that I won't soon forget.

"50 Million Year Trip (Downside Up)" is without a doubt my favourite Kyuss song. This song showcases everything that made Kyuss such an important and innovative band. The drum intro, while not incredibly complex, is one of Bjork's finer moments. The riffing is great, as well as the sparse, atmospheric notes. John fucking kills it on vocals. A large factor that makes this song so successful is that it merges the two sides of Kyuss - the weeded-out mellow side and their aggressive side. It starts out raging, entering metal territory. Both the verse and chorus are something that I won't soon forget. The mellow half of the song is wonderful too, something that I could easily drift away to. It is really cool to see John use both aggressive and mellow vocal styles in the same song. This song is evidence of Kyuss's diversity, talent and originality.

This album shows Kyuss becoming their own band and discovering their unique sound. A mix of aggression and mellowed out passages, this is one hell of a journey. An album that continues to inspire an entire genre, this is not one that will soon be forgotten. They never shy away from doing things differently, examples being the weird distorted vocals on "Mondo Generator" (a song that Nick Oliveri later named his band after, mondo meaning "world" in Italian) and their weird approach to the loud/soft dynamic on "Thong Song." This album is diverse but always cohesive. Softer passages completely work in an album that has spawned aggressive and certifiably bad ass songs like "Thumb" and "Green Machine." This is the beginning of the trilogy of Kyuss's good albums, which can only be described as pure gold.

Originally Posted At:

Another Sunrise on the Desert Horizon... - 95%

Fitzkerban, September 1st, 2011

The frigid air of the desert night gives way to the creeping dawn. As the first rays of light breach the horizon's stretch, a cool wind of fresh, but dry air pours from the west and stirs up the lifeless sand. As the sun enters into view, a hot and warm breeze rushes forth from the east and collides with the cool wind. The forces of nature fight against each other, eventually spiraling into a vicious storm.

Such imagery is brought forth when listening to Kyuss' first-true work of brilliance. Blues for the Red Sun opens with the track Thumb which vividly matches the description above. The listener is greeted with a mellow intro before being assaulted by the crushing brutality of Kyuss' lead and rhythm sections. Never is there a moment on this album where Josh Homme's heavy lead breaks down into sissy wankery. His only purpose is to barrage the listener with countless riffs, riffs that in no way resemble the maniac madness of thrash metal, but the doomsy subtlety of Tony Iommi. However, unlike Iommi's bludgeoning heaviness, Homme's riffs create a scenery within the listener's mind; his riffs lead deeper and deeper into a trance-like state. There is, however, no doubt that Homme could create this atmosphere alone; for Kyuss is more than a vehicle for Josh Homme's genius because it is also the relentless drumming of Brant Bjork and Scott Reeder's thumping bass that allows Kyuss from simply being mellow music with a tinge of blunt distortion, but one of extended psychedelic trip-outs and hypnotic waves. Bjork's heavy emphasis on cymbals is far from being one-dimensional. In fact, it's nothing short of genius. On this record (and pretty much all of Kyuss' records) Bjork's crashing cymbals help place heavy emphasis onto both Reeder's and Homme's respective instrument while creating a suspenseful air full of excitement for the next beat. Reeder's bass creates a steamrolling drive that creates the perfect tone and ambiance that's simply an aural paradise. Despite this, there must be an outlet for the mind-numbing heaviness of Kyuss' instrument section. This is where John Garcia's vocals come into play. Tthey provide an outlet for the underlying aggression of Kyuss and even blend with the music to create a mellowness that simply moves one's heart (listen to Writhe).

Put together, Kyuss is able to bring the essence of the desert to the ears of anyone. Listening once is not enough, it is the many times that their albums are re-listened that prove their genius.

Kings of the desert scene arise - 97%

JamesIII, March 9th, 2010

In the minds of many, what makes a musical release perfect is that it is devoid of technical and songwriting flaw, bursting at the seems with creative inspiration and is exceeds the standards set for it by the critical media. To me personally, a perfect album is something different. A flawed album can still be a perfect album if it evokes the right emotional and contextual response from the audience. Usually, this type of album goes unnoticed or unappreciated by the mainstream, which is exactly where I see Kyuss in the grand scheme of the metal world.

Kyuss were always a band who garnered attention but could never cross over into being a "popular" band. Even today, many music listeners know of them, yet their popularity just doesn't seem to be there. Maybe its because they split-up over a decade ago or perhaps its because the stoner metal genre doesn't lend itself to pop hits that the mainstream media can stand up and clap for like a mass of well trained circus seals.

While other bands like Monster Magnet and the mighty Sleep would arise to help fill out the ranks of the early stoner metal genre, Kyuss were always and will always be the band I most associate with the genre. Kyuss released four proper full-lengths in their time, three of which deserve to be recognized in some way. The first of these is "Blues for the Red Sun," which is just slightly below the self-titled album in terms of sheer quality. The music contained within this album is at times catchy, fun, groovy, and at other times, somewhat unusual yet still interesting. The majority of the music here is based on heavy, fuzzy grooves with a very charismatic frontman in John Garcia who, in my mind, epitomizes what a stoner metal singer should sound like.

In contrast to the self-titled album two years later, the most memorable songs on this album are the shorter ones. Whereas on the self-titled five and six minute tracks like "Gardenia" and "Demon Cleaner" were the most easily remembered, here that belongs to the three and four minute tracks. "Thumb" and its shorter, catchier companion in "Green Machine" make the case here. Both exhibit a sense of heaviness yet are delightfully fun to listen to. "50 Million Year Trip" plays out in much the same way, though its quite a bit longer in duration. Songs like that, and perhaps "Freedom Run," show the songwriting genius of Kyuss as they are one of the few stoner bands who can write seven and eight minute tracks without boring the hell out of their audience.

So ultimately, what is "Blues for the Red Sun" in summary? For me, its an interesting irony in the music realm. I have never really considered anything from the stoner metal genre to be considered a "perfect album," with Sleep's "Holy Mountain" being awfully close but no cigar. Kyuss establish themselves as the Kings of this genre as well as a mighty recording artist for all music in general. They managed to make lengthy songs and numerous instrumentals pleasant to listen to, instead of overlong atmospheric numbers that get dreadfully boring. "Blues for the Red Sun" remains one of my favorite albums to listen to alongside their incredible self-titled album and "...And the Circus Leaves Town." This album is truly spectacular, as most of the other reviewers here have already stated, and easily something I'd recommend any heavy music fan look into with an open mind.

What's for desert? Cacti. Fuck you. - 100%

Shadespawn, February 17th, 2010

In music, you keep searching and searching until you find those special artists that cope with the general feeling you have in a certain point or another of your life and describe your life and the way you interact with your surroundings most. Kyuss is one of those lost bands that were never "found", them always being very distant to begin with. They were most popular in the mid 90s, having reached cult status amongst the "desert" scene, which they've created. Now there have been infinite artists who are special in the one or the other way, but Kyuss have created something as immortal as it is supreme. Forget about founding fundamental bands such as "Subway to Sally" or "Oomph!", which have also started trends such as medieval and industrial rock, only to be surpassed by greater giants such as In Extremo or Rammstein. Kyuss have remained giants in their self-appointed subgenre and always will be. They'Ve also known when to stop with the band and call it a day, a fact most artists do not seem to get. But that's not the main topic here. Here we will discuss Kyuss' megalith "Blues for the red sun", released back in 92' where I was merely a pup.

There are so many different feelings this album induces that it's almost an impossible task to describe even a fraction of them, since most are so utterly abstract, so amazingly distinctive that you try so very hard to look up complicated words to describe even more complicated moods. When listening to Kyuss and more precise this album, you need a certain degree of concentration to begin with. Nothing will come out of a hectic party or social get-together, if not all participants are on the same level of understanding as you are. It will end in an emotional catastrophe. The main impulse behind Kyuss is that they may or may not have reached a certain level of clairvoyance, you have to decide for yourself in which direction you are heading when listening to this bombastic and heavy album. The main reason this album is considered to be as heavy metal as any of the big classic giants is because of its themes and the manner in which they are presented: you have parallels to astronomy, psychology, interpersonal relations, etc. Heck, you even have the most banal lyrical themes you could imagine, be it riding around with a purring motor behind your hood, stuff like that. But the central reason is that they are extremely heavy. They get under the skin pretty fast with a good reason; when playing guitar through a bass amplifier you're sure to get a bombastic sound. The songs are full of weird gimmicks and strange atmospheres that seem to be so natural and organic that you don't even bother to pick something out and bitch about it, since the album is, like most Kyuss work, to be viewed upon as a whole, as a coherent piece of extreme expression.

Kyuss' trademark are most certainly John Garcia's vocals. They are simply amazing. That semi-destroyed, yet oh-so-melodic and harsh voice fissures even the most massive of mountains. His voice is one of the most powerful and distinctive voices I have ever heard and there are quite some good vocalists out there, especially in the metal scene, where vocals play a very important role. The impressive thing about Kyuss and "Blues for the red sun" is that the vocal duties are kept very sincere and discrete, so that there still is a lot of room for great and groovy, trippy instrumental parts. When John Garcia sings however, actually no matter what he does with his voice, it most certainly has every potential to be awe-inspiring and shattering. Although he sounds resigned, there is that sheer supreme tone in his voice that sends shivers down the spine and evokes goose-bumps.

To fully understand this album, you must be prepared to loosen your thoughts, to let go of any and all mind-maps or strings that you might use for typical genres and subgenres. I never could fully understand this album, until one day I became interested in... deserts. You know, the sand-masses, not whipped-cream cake shit (I like to assume that, since its more comforting). This is the album you need to listen to alone before you die. Grab yourself some cool beers while you do so.

(written for and TMO on 17.02.10)

Tooling along the main drag on a saturday night... - 99%

zeingard, February 13th, 2010

The trajectory of a band's career is a hard thing to judge, especially at the outset; you can never tell how high they will soar or more likely, how fast they will spiral headlong into the ground. In retrospect, most opinions tend to fall into the "Their first *number* of albums were the best before they fucked everything up" and it's usually a pretty accurate assessment. While Kyuss started off on the right foot, their sound was inconsistent and simplistic. Yet within barely a year they were propelled headlong into the stratosphere when they released 'Blues for the Red Sun'; an album that along with their self-titled (more commonly known as 'Welcome to Sky Valley') would come to be regarded as their best works and furthermore was instrumental in the fruition of the stoner rock genre.

In terms of sound 'Blues from the Red Sun' isn't all too far removed from the basic idea behind 'Wretch'; a more upbeat and psychedelic Black Sabbath circa 'Master of Reality'. However where 'Wretch' was abrasive and stripped down, 'Blues from the Red Sun' smooths off all the rough edges and the instrumentation is tighter with a focus towards producing a mellow groove for you to immerse yourself in. As a result though it's impossible to critically analyse the music because it effectively shuts down your brain leaving you disarmed, which is a trait that is much more favourable for those comfortably hot summer afternoons where nothing is important, except for your next drink.

To simply say that 'Blues for the Red Sun' is simply a less shit version of 'Wretch' is lazy and short-sighted. The progression in songwriting is rather astounding and is far more mature, with the band drawing upon a varied assortment of styles and flawlessly meshing them with one another. While tracks like "Allen's Wrench" and "Thumb" easily represent the band's signature sound, the divergences and elaborations that are brought forth by the other tracks manage to not only bring something new and interesting to the plate but do so without becoming farcical or a self-parodical. However the song structures themselves are for the most part the standard fare, with the usual verse-chorus interactions being put to effective use especially in catchy numbers such as "Green Machine" and "50 Million Years (Downside Up)".

Otherwise the tracks delve into the bizarre and unstructured territory such as "Apothecaries' Weight" or "Mondo Generator" but even with their bizarre construction it is still not uncommon to come across writing that summons up images proposed by Hunter. S. Thompson during his peak years. The instrumental animosity of the latter track is quite puzzling and flirts unabashedly with shoegaze frequently throughout.

As I mentioned in the second paragraph, it's damn near impossible to give a thorough analysis of this album due it's relaxed nature, and partially because I associate it with afternoons spent on a dingy balcony drinking terrible beer. Nothing about this album ever feels forced, but at the same time it doesn't quite have the flowing nature that would come with their self-titled magnum opus (aka 'Welcome to Sky Valley). Regardless, 'Blues for the Red Sun' is indispensable and quite easily the highlight of the 90's music scene,

It is simply exquisite and to enjoy it all you need is a carton of beer and an afternoon in which all your daily responsibilities are tossed aside for the time being.

Something truly special... - 100%

erickg13, December 8th, 2007

Kyuss, they are the first and last word in the relm of stoner metal. They may have not invented it, but they revolutionized it and perfected it. They made records that are not only great, but that you could have fun listening to. "Blues for the Red Sun" is truly a rare record that any band would be lucky to produce.

The most evident feature is the warm, fuzzy, almost inviting production. The vocals ride on top of a bass groove that is unmatched, while the guitars are deep but surprisingly crisp and melodic. Also the drums are perfectly done: they aren't too on top of the song, but they help keep a laid back, fluid beat. The production job by design or dumb luck is one of the great assets to this amazing album.

However, the most evident feature is the clean, melodic and surprising great vocals from John Garcia. While most stoner bands decide to go for the deep, processed and spacey vocals, Kyuss opts for the more accesible clean vocals which really set this album apart from, say "Dopethrone".

And the driving force of the groovy rhythm section perfectly compliments the vocals and driving guitar. The rhythm section really is best described as blues on overdrive. It is just loose enough that it sounds like it is just a jam, but tight enough to make for a great groove.

But my favorite element is the guitars. So deep and bass like, yet so clean and and powerful. Josh Homme really found something special in the way he played on this album that makes the guitar sound absolutely great.

A great example of all these elements coming together is the almost-instrumental "Apothecaries' Weight". It starts as a simple guitar riff, then the drums sneak in with a simple cymbol beat before meshing into a progressively heavier bass driven riff, while a seemingly endless guitar solo flows underneath the bass and drums. You must hear this for yourself.

And while it may not have been planned, each song flows into the next song almost perfectly. This makes for the album to sound almost as if it was to be an story run together, but it can be taken in as a whole just as well as if you played only a few songs.

As with any Kyuss album, there is a fair share of instrumentals and oddities. For example the short acoustic guitar solo of sorts in "Capsized" or the super thick sludge of "Molten Universe". Also to be found is a nice assortment of styles, ranging from heavy blues rock to groove metal and so on. It keeps the album from becoming merely a trudging monolith like some stoner metal albums.

All in all, Kyuss's "Blues for the Red Sun" is a spectacular album that not only fans of stoner metal would enjoy. This an all encompasing album that will have your attention if you like pretty much any form of metal or rock. So do yourself a favour and pick "Blues for the Red Sun" up.

Heavy, groovy stoner stuff. The way it should be. - 80%

caspian, May 17th, 2006

Stoner Rock, for me, is a pretty irresistible genre. While I'm not a stoner myself, the stoners who write these songs seem to enjoy the same things as me.. That is, heavy riffs, played slow, with the bass turned up and the drums playing some fairly loose beats.

This album kicks off with a bang. Thumb starts off all ambient, but by the minute mark, there's super heavy, groovy riffs with some great vocals. The vocalist is probably what sets this band apart from other stoner rock bands. This guy's got a great, loud clear voice, there's none of the stoned vocals like Electric Wizard or Sleep. He's a really good vocalist. The rythym section is brilliant too. It's not so tight that it's got no groove, but neither is it a sloppy rythym section, it's right in the middle. The bass is turned up super loud, and it fits in great with the guitar, which has an awesome, super fat tone (I heard Josh Homme plugged his guitar through a bass amp to get this tone.)

Of course, a tight rythym section and massive vocals don't mean too much if the songs aren't good. But, the songs are all amazing, and there's a fair bit of variety in them too. Green Machine is a fairly fast song (great for headbanging), Molten Universe is a bit slower, but really heavy, 50 Million Year Trip has some pretty awesome melodic stuff in it, while the closer, 800, is quite odd, with some guitar droning and tribal drumming. Basically, there's good stuff to be found everywhere.

In the end this is a pretty cool CD. Every song is great, there's variety in pace and mood (something which is all too rare in most stoner rock bands), and it's well produced too.. Everything sounds good in it, always a plus in my opinion. Don't buy this record expecting a cerebral experience, buy this record to have a good time.. as that's what it's all about.

Cruising the Midnight Desert Highway - 100%

the_MoRTiCiAN, January 28th, 2004

This record kicks ass. Blues for the Red Sun is one of the best “stoner rock” albums of all time, if not the best. It has got everything you could possibly ask for in a “stoner rock” album. Heavy riffs, good bass line, grungy vocals, sweet guitar solos (with a trippy sound to it) excellent drum work and some cool cosmic intros which twist and bend your mind until you cannot tell if you’re coming or going. (Did I really just hear that, or did I just think I heard that?)

When I listen to this CD I picture myself in a pimpin’ old skool pink Cadillac cruising down some desert highway at night, with a double bass in the back seat and a pair of bitchin’ dark sunglasses on, looking up at the starry night and thinking to myself. “Damn, I need one of those psychedelic blue drinks you always see in movies.” (You know the one that comes in a ridiculously large glass with a bunch of miniature umbrellas in it.) Listening to this reminds me of that Simpson’s episode when Homer eats the insanity peppers and is lost in the bizarre hallucinogenic desert.

Back to the music, it’s really good. It’s also pretty varied too. Some fast bits, some slow bits. There are always some changes in volume and mood throughout it which keeps you on your toes. Also, the vocals do not all sound the same and do not get tiresome. Some songs only have a few vocal interludes. Kyuss has chosen to not rely heavily on vocals for their artistic expression. If certain parts of the song would sound better with a guitar solo instead of vocals, then Kyuss will do just that.

Josh Homme is a “stoner rock” guitar legend. He is so inventive with his riffs and solos. Pure genius.

Although it’s hard to pick the best songs because they are all so good, I will list a few which come to mind:

50 million year trip (downside up), writhe, freedom run, thong song

Give this record a listen, especially while driving at night. You will not be disappointed.

"i've got a war inside my head" - 85%

ironasinmaiden, December 24th, 2002

This is the album that put Kyuss on the map back in 91, the fuzzed out meisterwork that spawned a million imitators and turned young children across the country onto generator powered, marijuana fueled grooves of the southern california desert. Although I prefer Welcome to Sky Valley, Red Sun is a classic in it's own right.

For the uninitiated, Kyuss played fuzzed out, reverb soaked, Sabbath tinged metal, and were one of the most important bands of their 90s. Describing their sound w/out relying on stupid metaphors or labels is fairly difficult, so I'll just say that they kick ass. A lot of it. Atlantic records signed them in the early 90s and dropped them after a tour w/ metallica failed to help them catch on to the mainstream. Posthumously, their legend and influence grew and now they have a huge cult following and many side projects, most noteable of which being Queens of the Stone Age.

Blues for the Red Sun contains many classics, the most prominent being Green Machine, a stoner anthem if there ever was one, a burner that sounds like the Stooges on overdrive. Thumb, Freedom March, and (my personal favorite) Writhe represent the jam nature of Kyuss, particularly Josh Homme's fuzzy, droning guitars and John Garcia's (one of the best vocalist all time IMO) searing vocals.

So if you want to get to the roots of stoner rock and take a 50 million year trip, pack your bowls tightly and let Kyuss work their magic.