When sludgy California hard rockers Kyuss disbanded in late 1995 and guitarist Josh Homme headed north to play with Screaming Trees, it seemed as though the distinctive sub-Sabbath fuzz Kyuss had revived might sink back into the muck of grunge. But late last year Homme reconvened with a couple of his Kyuss mates, bassist Nick Oliveri and drummer Alfredo Hernandez, to form Queens of the Stone Age, who last week released an eponymously titled debut on Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard’s Loosegroove label. Homme’s lumbering riffs and Oliveri’s rumbling dirges haven’t lost any weight, but they combine with a new economy and litheness. Kyuss songs featured thick grooves, but the Queens’ songs are built on them; several grow out of highly repetitive patterns borrowed more from Can and Neu! than from any domestic stoners. Homme’s guitar playing now hypnotizes more than it hammers, and his low-key, conversational vocals contribute as much to the rhythm as they do to the melody. I don’t know if this album will kick my ass a year from now, but it’s certainly been doing the trick lately. Monday, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Lisa Johnson.