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Queens of the Stone Age

Lullabies to Paralyze (Interscope)

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Queens of the Stone Age's Lullabies to Paralyze begins sweetly enough, as longtime contributor Mark Lanegan lends his smoky baritone to "This Lullaby," a delicate acoustic ballad that's a slyly misleading precursor to the melodic fury that lead singer Josh Homme unleashes over the next hour. And while the absence of founding bassist Nick Oliveri, fired since the 2002 release of Songs for the Deaf, and onetime drummer Dave Grohl are noticeable -- both brought to the band a ragged, fiery intensity that has yet to be replaced -- these tightly constructed Lullabies still pack the bludgeoning rapid-fire riffs that have long been the Queens' calling card. The blistering assault of "Everybody Knows That You Are Insane," possibly a parting shot at Oliveri, and the bruising "In My Head" make that clear enough.

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