With Foo Fighter Dave Grohl playing drums and ex-Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lannegan contributing occasional guitars and vocals, this marquee-laden incarnation of Queens of the Stone Age (QOTSA) de

With Foo Fighter Dave Grohl playing drums and ex-Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lannegan contributing occasional guitars and vocals, this marquee-laden incarnation of Queens of the Stone Age (QOTSA) delivers the album that should finally make the band a household name. Just don't expect any straight-up pop moments on par with the group's signature single "Feel Good Hit of the Summer." On Songs for the Deaf, QOTSA ditches the immediate accessibility of 2000's highly praised Rated R in favor of a more sprawling grunge-metal sound following in the tradition of Soundgarden and Alice in Chains. But what singer/ guitarist Josh Homme and bassist Nick Oliveri sacrifice in hooks this time out, they make up for in smartly crafted, dense arrangements that reward with repeated listens. Songs for the Deaf features some of the band's finest, and at times quirkiest, work to date. Highlights include the blistering opener, "Millionare," and the bluesy romp "No One Knows." Meanwhile, fans of Grohl's work with Nirvana will delight in the pulverizing back-beat to the alloy-laced scorcher "Song for the Dead." Songs for the Deaf is the sound of metal that looks beyond hard rock's nü-metal lobotomy.—BG