It takes a lot of balls for a band to reform without its leading contributor though maybe less so if it eventually opts for another name. Much like the relationship between Black Star Riders and Thin Lizzy, Vista Chino was formed when members of Kyuss attempted to reunite without guitarist Josh Homme but had to change their name after a legal dispute between the two parties. The resulting album is a great effort that may have worked better had it been released under the Kyuss banner.
No matter how you feel about this group’s existence and name politics, you can’t deny that the guys in Vista Chino knew exactly what made Kyuss such a unique fixture of the stoner metal scene. The guitars are as bass heavy as ever, John Garcia’s testosterone-soaked howls hold up despite his age, the drums work in a number of fills, and the songs cover the usual fields of driving rock to zoned out psychedelia. It certainly helps that guitarist Bruno Fevery played in a few Kyuss tribute bands before coming here but he is a solid riff writer on his own terms.
It also helps that a bunch of the songs on here do sound like classic Kyuss. Lead single “Dargona Dragona” and “Planets 1&2” are the leading offenders as the former is a percussive opener in the vein of “Thumb” while the latter has a “Green Machine” chug with a few extra tempo changes thrown in. Of course, there are more distinct moments such as the radio friendly “Adara,” which oddly sounds more like something that Homme would’ve put together for Queens Of The Stone Age…
But when compared to its alma mater, Vista Chino has a more straightforward presentation. There may be a couple interludes and signature spacy tangents throughout, but you won’t find as many of them and the ones here rarely go for as long as they did before. The album is also surprisingly rawer though that has more to do with the production and Garcia’s huskier voice.
In a rather odd move, I’m more than happy to accept Peace as a twenty-first century Kyuss album but it’ll take some time and evolution before it can be judged as a true debut. It’s another good example of a new band having famous members to justify a derivative sound but fans may actually like it more than what Homme himself is doing nowadays. It’ll be intriguing to see where things go from here but nothing will replace your copy of Blues For The Red Sun anytime soon.
“Acidize… The Gambling Moose”