Welcome to Throwback Thursday! This is the place where we get to indulge in nostalgia and wax poetic about excellent metal of years past. For this, the 57th edition of this series, we're sticking with last week's theme of 'warm fuzz' in protest of the onslaught of January's probing, icy fingers. 1992 wasn't just a fruitful (or weedful) year for musical pioneers Sleep; Kyuss also landed on the scene with their beloved album Blues for the Red Sun.
KYUSS'S BLUES FOR THE RED SUN
Release Date: June 1992
Record Label: Dali
We need to talk about Blues for the Red Sun. It's Kyuss's second release, and it's a lot of things that their beloved Welcome to Sky Valley isn't: polished, focused, and balanced. And yet, the Blues for the Red Sun is a necessary milestone in the timeline of metal. The album is a snapshot, evoking emotions of youthful apathy and a devil-may-care attitude that the 90's counter-culture thrived upon. Unlike their timely cohorts, Kyuss forged a different approach to garage-rock chic that resulted in music brimming with authenticity and mood. Building upon trends in metal and grunge, the exploration of talent and taste within Blues for the Red Sun results in a brash, slightly clumsy, desert-baked, insatiable fuzz-fest that fans and critics alike fell in love with.
The driving motifs Kyuss are now famous for include the labels 'stoner' and 'desert' rock. The influences of these mental images shape the enjoyment of the music as much as the tuned-down crunchy-as-a-forgotten-Cheeto-under-the-fridge tone. An escapists wet dream, Blues for the Red Sun is tangible to minds who've seen glimpses of arid Southwest roads bravely stretching through dusty hues of browns. The opening of "Molten Universe" includes wibbly-wobbily guitar licks that sound the way undulating heat rising from a Camaro's hood looks:
Pronounced bass lines played on strings thick and warbly slide underneath curious mid-rangey solos in tracks like "Freedom Run":
You can hear Kyuss finding their direction in this album. What resonates throughout Blues for the Red Sun is an aggression that doesn't rely upon typical metal affronts such as growling, shrieking, or double-bass. No; instead the aggressiveness feels more like a slowly building heat – a heat wrapped in ambition and spontaneity. Random coughing in the charging track "Green Machine" caps off that "my buddy asked me over for ice-cold garage beers after a 120 degree day in exchange for listening to what their band just came up with" vibe:
And would ya look at that – an official music video that looks exactly the way the music sounds. John Garcia is an expressive, naturally talented vocalist whose performance on Blues for the Red Sun is, for lack of a better analogy, the saguaro cactus of an open desert – stunning, instantly recognizable, and fucking shredded with barbs.
Google Blues for the Red Sun and you'll find tons of exclamations exalting this album including declarations like "perfect album" and "game changer". I don't disagree with these assertions entirely. Much like my sentiment from last week's article on Sleep, I think that these lofty titles often put albums like these on perilous pedestals. Kyuss were a bunch of young guys when they recorded Blues for the Red Sun (Josh Homme was probably around 18 or so) and that inexperience shows to the seasoned listener. I personally enjoy the raw quality of that inexperience, and Blues for the Red Sun is exciting because of that. This album no doubt planted seeds of what was to come in the minds of music lovers. The talent of Kyuss is obvious, and without Blues for the Red Sun there wouldn't have been Welcome to Sky Valley, Queens of the Stone Age, or the slew of other bands that cite Kyuss as a heavy influence.