Stoner rock is quickly getting as predictable as any other kind of “alternative” rock, so it’s inspiring to see that one of the genre’s progenitors, former Kyuss guitarist Josh Homme, is still scampering ahead of the curve. After Kyuss broke up, in 1995, Homme briefly played with Screaming Trees, then formed a trio called Queens of the Stone Age, whose 1998 debut hijacked post-Sabbath guitar sludge and forced it into hypnotically repetitive grooves that had more to do with Krautrock than heavy metal. On the group’s recent follow-up, Rated R (Interscope), the Queens are no longer so much a band as a loose collective of players revolving around Homme and former Kyuss bassist Nick Oliveri–an impressive crew that includes former Judas Priest front man Rob Halford and Screaming Trees vocalist Mark Lanegan. The rotating-cast approach yields a beguiling schizophrenia: the album leaps out of the gate with “Feel Good Hit of the Summer,” a stomper that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Black Flag’s Slip It In. Homme peels off a lovingly gnarled Greg Ginn-esque guitar solo, and the band chants “Nicotine, Valium, Vicodin, marijuana, ecstasy, and alcohol” like a mantra throughout. It gets weirder with each track after that: Homme busts out a falsetto croon on “The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret,” which thickens the riffage with some meaty baritone sax bleating; the coolly chugging “Monsters in the Parasol” has the detached air of art rock; “Quick and to the Pointless” is a brief fit of hand claps and hysterical hardcore screaming; and “I Think I Lost My Headache” is interrupted by a daring contrapuntal all-horn breakdown. I imagine the scope of this project will be streamlined a bit for the live set. These gigs are part of Ozzfest, which means the Queens will be the one tasty bite in a giant shit sandwich that includes Methods of Mayhem, Godsmack, Taproot, Incubus, and Static X; hopefully they’ll return soon for a club date. Friday, 10 AM, New World Music Theatre, I-80 and Harlem, Tinley Park; 708-614-1616 or 312-559-1212. Sunday, 10 AM, Alpine Valley Music Theatre, Highway D and Highway 120, East Troy, Wisconsin; 414-642-4400 or 312-559-1212. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Davis Factor.