Heavy guitar rock has never been more out of style than it is today. Sure there's still hard music, fast music--and even noisy, ugly, demonic rock has its '90s crowd. But true heaviness--characterized by a series of interlocking riffs depicting tremendous internal resistance, coupled with fiercely unpredictable drumming designed to arouse primal fear and increase awareness--is rare. And just as Black Sabbath was this form's first masters, Kyuss was its last.
Kyuss came out of a desert some hours from L.A. Their untitled third album, released in 1994, is nicknamed Sky Valley after a "Welcome to..." road sign that appears on the cover. The CD version doesn't have any spaces between the songs, to discourage skipping. All versions of the album come with instructions: "Listen without distraction." One more thing about this album: It is perfect.
People who don't realize this album is perfect often complain about the voice of Kyuss. John Garcia is what in metal circles used to be called a "technique" singer--he uses his diaphragm, and has no problem with wailing in the higher registers. If you have a problem with this, you won't like Kyuss, and really shouldn't like Led Zep or Soundgarden, either. Some folks, too, find it hard to accept Kyuss' epic style from an underground band--they feel that sonic hugeness is only appropriate for the lumbering giants of the rock-dinosaur era. This is a mistake. That "KYUSS" is not stenciled on the notebooks of every third high school student in America is but an accident of history. A tragic one.
Kyuss broke up a couple years ago. Josh Homme, the genius and guitarist of Kyuss, currently plays (and sings, without so much "technique") in Queens of the Stone Age.