It sounds a little unlikely on its face, but sometimes you just know what you’re going to get from an album, even if it’s a band’s first record. That is certainly true of Leave Me Alone, billed as Nick Oliveri‘s first solo album. From top to bottom, listeners will be able to pick out familiar little bits and pieces from all of the projects Oliveri has contributed to before (there’s some Mondo Generator here and some Dwarves there, some Kyuss and Vista Chino coloring the corners of a few songs and a few shadows cast on others by Queens Of The Stone Age), but the most obvious thing about Leave Me Alone is that it is easily recognizable as new work; it could never be mistaken for anything which came before it. Bluntly put, Leave Me Alone is an all-new show – it is Nick Oliveri’s show and (outside of a couple of all-star guest appearances in the guitar seat) his alone – and he takes great care to make sure no one forgets it in this run-time.
…And right from the top, Oliveri sets to proving the difference between Uncontrollable and the stuff he’s done with other people’s bands. Listeners will feel themselves stepping back to give “Human Cannonball Explodes” some room. The difference between the sound of this first salvo and anything else in the guitarist’s catalogue is obvious: while the sort of “honky,” “buzzy” guitar tone that lots of fans will recognize as being similar to Kyuss and Queens Of The Stone Age is present here, the basic structure of the song is rooted more in hardcore punk than in rock n’ roll. Here, Nick Oliveri is already grunting, howling and growling furiously rather than trying to charm listeners, and that difference marks a significant turn in the music overall; rather than appealing to listeners’ will to be weird (as so many of the other projects associated with the QOTSA crew do), Oliveri tells those who come upon Leave Me Alone that they can take or leave what they’re hearing, but it IS happening.
Without bothering to give an inch or a second for listeners to recover, Oliveri primes the circuits and drops “Keep Me In The Loop” with the same force and approach as “Human Cannonball…” hit before finally breaking stride with the hellish rockabilly workout “Luv Is Fiction.” Between those three songs alone, listeners really get a good idea of what Oliveri is aiming for on this album; he leaves the mathy, “robotic” leanings that Josh Homme brought to table for QOTSA and implements a staggering load of hardcore urgency and aggression in its place. That’s great for the hardcore crowd, but there are really a limited number of directions Oliveri is able to take the album as a result and it would get frustrating quickly if it weren’t for the wealth of guest guitar assistance (including one half of the former Ween braintrust Mickey Melchiondo, Motorhead’s Phil Campbell, Mike Pygmie of Mondo Generator, Marc Diamond of The Dwarves and Bruno Fevery of Vista Chino) – they’re the ones who really keep this run-time from getting samey or boring.
Calling an album “not too samey or boring” may not appear as the most glowing endorsement of Leave Me Alone‘s quality, but it actually does say a great number of positive things about it to those very familiar with the artist’s other work. In every other band Nick Oliveri has contributed to (with the exception of Mondo Generator), there has always been a frontman ahead of him (John Garcia in Vista Chino, for example, Josh Homme in Queens of the Stone Age and Blag Dahlia in Dwarves) to function either as a control switch, a leader or just someone to hide behind. When that hasn’t been the case (see Mondo Generator), the results have been far more mixed. With that history in mind, calling Leave Me Alone “not too samey” suddenly seems promising; it’s not perfect, but there are a few sparks of greatness in these nine songs. They need a little more time to really get focused, but Leave Me Alone is a start and will get Nick Oliveri’s Uncontrollable on its way.
Leave Me Alone is being released on Schnitzel Records worldwide in late September 2014.