Released: 2013, Napalm Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
From the band that almost was a Kyuss reunion comes an album that sounds like what you’d expect from a Kyuss reunion – it sounds like a new Kyuss record. After some very public finger pointing, legal theatrics, and a name change, ¾ of the classic Kyuss lineup return as Vista Chino with a new album in tow, PEACE. With so much rock star chicanery as of late involving current and former members of the band, many (including myself) were skeptical about whether Vista Chino would live up to the legacy of a band that many (including myself) respect with a level deity like reverence. Listening to PEACE, my concerns were quickly abated, and it was immediately clear that the creative muscle behind Kyuss currently resides within the lineup of Vista Chino. PEACE is everything a fan could want from a new Kyuss album and so much more.
This album simply oozes cool from start to finish. After a subtle buildup, Dargona Dragona opens PEACE with a familiar fuzz and a confident cadence that immediately recalls the classic sound that fans have come to know and love. But while it hints at the band’s past, it’s by no means an attempt to cash in history or good will. Classic essence? You betcha, but there’s a maturity in the attitude and presence that speaks to differentiate itself here. And goddamit, it’s good to hear John Garcia again.
And the hits just keep coming. “Sweet Remain” and “As You Wish” are totally swarthy and smoked out, yet undeniably catchy rockers. Both tracks belie a bluesy underbelly that’ll have you humming riffs and refrains until your head hurts. If you haven’t already lit up at this point in the record, “Planets 1 & 2” would be your queue. Part 1 recalls the impending throttle and choke of tunes like “Green Machine”, while Part 2 seamlessly recoils into a melancholy, trance like repose; it’s fantastic. Whether intentional or not, PEACE progresses further and further away into uncharted territory towards the latter half of the album, but it works magnificently. “Mas Vino” is a subdued, instrumental jam that you’d likely hear coming out of a roadside bar on the outskirts of a dusty highway, while “Barcelonian” has a distinctly upbeat, classic rock presentation. The closing “Acidize…The Gambling Moose” has been getting a lot of attention in the fan feedback surrounding the album, and rightfully so. The best that I can describe it as would be Kyuss covering Black Sabbath while covering Peter Gabriel-era Genesis – a 70’s prog rock doom epic that’s far enough removed from what you’d expect from the band to sound “experimental”, but familiar enough to not scare away casual listeners.
I had zero expectation that Vista Chino would be able to both summon and slay old demons given the almost two decades that have passed since a proper Kyuss LP. But PEACE is every bit as good as Vista Chino says that it is, every bit as good as Kyuss ever was, and wipes the slate clean for the band to move forward in what will hopefully be a long and prosperous existence, out of the shadow of certain Stone Aged Queens. This album is exceptional. PEACE is available September 3rd through Napalm Records.