ALBUM: WELCOME TO SKY VALLEY
LABEL (YEAR): ELEKTRA / CHAMELEON RECORDS (1994)
FOR FANS OF: ORANGE GOBLIN, BLACK SABBATH, SLEEP
Words by Chris Gaduzo
Kyuss’ third album, despite being over twenty years old, is still the blueprint for bluesy stoner rock. The band had already released the classic Blues for the Red Sun, which managed to cement their signature style of fuzzy, spaced out desert rock, but Welcome to Sky Valley is where they really honed their sound.
Josh Homme’s riffs (apparently recorded through bass amps) are never overplayed. Yet, from the spaced out intro of ‘Odyssey’ or the wah-driven ‘100 Degrees’, to the overbearing ‘Gardenia’ or acoustic ‘Space Cadet’, there’s simply never a melody or guitar line that isn't fantastic. Scott Reeder's bass playing is likewise utterly phenomenal. The mix allows his warm sound to really come through, emphasising the intricacies of his playing on tracks like ‘N.O’ or the bass-led ‘Demon Cleaner’.
None of these things could be Kyuss, however, without John Garcia’s high pitched yet still melodic vocals cutting through the fuzz. Like Sabbath before them, the contrast between thick, down-tuned instrumentation and paint-stripping vocals works incredibly well. Tracks like ‘Supa Scoopa and Mighty Scoop’ and album closer ‘Whitewater’ display Garcia’s amazing talent for providing powerful melodies for his lyrics that, while not the most philosophical, can be linked to the band’s beginnings in the Palm Desert Scene.
Perhaps the thing that makes Welcome to Sky Valley so influential and engrossing is that, by this point, Kyuss knew exactly what their strengths were. Although their previous and later albums are still stoner rock classics, this album is the absolute classic, showing the band at their creative peak.