For all the come-hither hooks and sultry side-eye of “The Evil Has Landed,” the new single from Queens of the Stone Age, it sure is a pummeling affair. Josh Homme opens the song in an isolated falsetto, before a swampy metal riff slithers in to counteract any sense of warmth. His voice retains an alluring intimacy while set against the turmoil of the guitar, which sounds like a beginner’s Mastodon riff, especially for that precision fuzz. The drums take Bonham-doffing downbeats and turnarounds without remorse, across the huge six-and-a-half-minute song. Even as the track spirals from straight-ahead strut to psych-rock soloing to herky-jerk breakdowns, it never loses the magnetism of Homme’s clarion call.
That the title swaps “evil” in the patriotic placeholder “the eagle has landed” recalls the 2015 terrorist attacks on the Bataclan, where Homme’s other other band, Eagles of Death Metal were performing. (Homme was not present but became involved with relief efforts after the incident.) Though Homme has said in interviews that the political climate has little to do with QOTSA’s new album Villains, it’s hard to pass over mentions of the hand of God, “near-life experience” and a larger sense of overcoming adversity. A lot has happened in the four years since the last QOTSA album, 2013’s Like Clockwork. We’d be remiss to forget that time.