Album of the Week 35-2013: Vista Chino – Peace

With this sort of a half-comeback – several key members of a legendary band reuniting, but another key member missing from the fold – the same questions always arise. In this case: will the reformed version of legendary Stoner Rock band Kyuss (though I personally prefer the term “Desert Rock” the members used themselves) be able to release anything decent now that founding guitarist Josh Homme – who obviously has more lucrative ventures in the shape of Queens Of The Stone Age – isn’t a part of the reunion?

Of course they can! Let’s not forget that original Kyuss drummer Brant Bjork had a great deal of input on his albums with the band. Hell, he wrote ‘Green Machine’, easily my favorite Kyuss song. ‘Gardenia’ is no slouch either. In fact, the material he has written for this album with Homme’s Belgian replacement Bruno Fevery is nothing short of spectacular. Vista Chino sounds exactly like Kyuss. More specifically: like Kyuss’ somewhat more straightforward stuff from Bjork’s era with the band. Fevery’s thick layers of fuzz in his guitar sound make Homme’s absence almost unnoticeable and the icing on the cake is John Garcia, still one of the greatest singers on the planet.

Fevery does a fantastic job here. His impressive work on the Kyuss Lives! tour already proved that he could carry Homme’s parts without much trouble, but his contributions on here are great both in composition and execution. His style is a bit looser than the somewhat more angular playing of Homme and that actually does fit the jam heavy sections of many of these songs (especially bonus tracks ‘Carnation’ and ‘Sunlight At Midnight’) very well. Bjork and bassist Nick Oliveri are clearly comfortable with his style as well.

As said, the songs on ‘Peace’ are comparable with the more straightforward Kyuss repertoire. Even the 13-minute album closer ‘Acidize…The Gambling Moose’ is relatively simple in structure. The song is built upon a couple of monumental riffs that are repeated quite often, yet never bore the listener because of shifting subtleties. My personal favorite would have to be ‘Planets 1&2’, which are almost entirely recorded by Bjork; only the guitars are handled by Fevery and Garcia does the vocals on the second installment. Bjork’s vocals on the first half are surprisingly good as well.

Other highlights include the fantastic opening track ‘Dargona Dragona’, a perfect moodsetter in the sense that it reminds the listener of why these guys were so cool in the first place, and the catchy ‘Adara’, which reminds me of Garcia’s fantastic Hermano a little. Everyone performs wonderfully on the album and Garcia never ceases to blow my mind. Also, the deliberately under-produced sound accounts for a pleasant Desert Rock experience.

There guys really don’t need Homme’s help in order to record a great album. A full-on Kyuss reunion is very unlikely to ever happen, but this is almost as good. This is 75 percent of the original band giving us more than 99 percent of the original quality. And I really can’t see any reason for a Kyuss fan not to like this. Highly recommended to any Rock fan.

Recommended tracks: ‘Planets 1&2’, ‘Dargona Dragona’, ‘Acidize…The Gambling Moose’, ‘Adara’

    • Matt
    • September 14th, 2013

    Great review! U really nailed it spot on.

    • Thanks Matt! I appreciate you taking the time to read it and letting me know what you think! And what can I say? I just really like the album! I’m glad you do too!

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