Vista Chino is the latest collaboration between former Kyuss members Brant Bjork (drums), John Garcia (vocals), and Nick Oliveri (bass), plus Bruno Fevery (guitar). But is this simply Kyuss 2.0?
There is certainly plenty of Kyuss heaviness present (see “Dargona Dragona”), but it’s clear these guys aren’t nineteen anymore. (Whether that’s a good or bad thing is subjective.) With some songs, like “Sweet Remain,” the dudes show a newfound appreciation for definable beginnings and endings. There’s often a trade-off between complexity and order here, but “Acidize” fills the urge for the former: The dynamism between meandering, clean passages and desperately surging crunch is the best I’ve heard in a while. Meanwhile, “Barcelonian” straddles the line between cock-rockin’ and space-trippin’ before thundering back into jam territory — with hand percussion!
There are shortcomings. Garcia’s nasally high register takes some getting used to. Lyrics are forgettable at times, and some of the serpentine, palindromic guitar leads sound like they were ripped straight from the amp of former bandmate Josh Homme. But at the end of the day, this is a solid album from dudes who haven’t fallen into the traps of the stoner-rock genre that they unwittingly helped create. Not facile, not cloyingly self-aware, and not content to favor mindless down-tuned crunch over intelligent groove, the original Desert Sons do not betray their roots. (Napalm Records)