Stoner Rock is one of the most underrated styles in music ever, and hence, KYUSS being the undisputed masters of it, a very underrated band; and equally brilliant may I add. This 1994 epic masterpiece, “Welcome To Sky Valley” is to be considered the Magnum Opus of both band and genre. It is not merely a listening experience, nay; it is an audile trip along I-10 and the grand deserts surrounding it. From Palm Desert, CA to the canyon-scapes of southern Utah; once you heard KYUSS and saw these places, you will forever draw a link between the two, for KYUSS’ music is the soundtrack to the desert. Hence the term Desert Rock of course, often used to describe KYUSS.
“Sky Valley” has 10 tracks, but the band divided it into 3 songs: tracks 1-3, 4-6 and 7-10, although it isn’t a continuous flow of music. “Gardenia” opens fantastically and sets the mood for the whole album. The trademark fuzzed guitar sound is present of course, and so is Brant Björk’s inventive drumming. Cymbals are used all the time and that might be one of the most recognizable things about Stoner Rock. Halfway is a groovy interlude with awesome bass lines and psychedelic guitar play but the way the band returns to the main riff is beyond compare. If you didn’t like the calmer parts, which would be a sin, you now understand just why they need to: It’s the perfect tempo switch!
And while most of the album is slow or midpaced, KYUSS can be fast as hell as well! Just listen to “Asteroid”, where the band goes into full overdrive with the last riff, and when this musical orgasm ends, the sweet grooves of “Supa Scoopa” immediately start. A song where the great vocals of John Garcia are being showed, he really seems to feel every song of KYUSS, but here it’s just perfect, intonation wise. Besides that he can have a very raspy style of singing but also a soothing clean voice. No matter what he uses, it’s blindingly obvious to what band you’re listening to.
“100◦” is the quintessential Desert Rock song, not a better title could’ve been chosen and hearing Garcia scream the chorus with the powerhouse riff simply summons ideas of a grand Arizona sunset, with you being blinded by the descending sun. The 2 other tracks of this second song perfectly display Garcia’s clean voice and especially “Demon Cleaner” is beautiful, yet another highlight of the CD. However; the true masterpiece is the mighty “Odyssey”. Words cannot describe the perfection presented here. Everything is just so fuzzed out here that you can get stoned by listening to it alone. Technically pretty similar to the album opener, but 10 times better! The time change when John starts screaming “Fiiiire on the mountain!” brings tears to me eyes…
“N.O.” for the first time on the album is a true tribute to the mighty BLACK SABBATH, evidently the biggest influence for KYUSS and all Stoner bands. Of course you’re still in trance from “Odyssey”, and only with the last few moments of the CD will the images of deserts, weed and white beer escape your mind.
Once more it is proven that perfection can be present in music. Now for the final words; the bands advice: “Listen without distraction”. (With lots of bass and loudness on your amplifier if I may add) (Online September 13, 2005)