Released in 1994, over a year after it was completed, "Welcome to Sky Valley" is a landmark of the Stoner Rock genre. The first Kyuss record on a major label (Elektra), WtSV is the first album to feature Scott Reeder (Across the River, The Obsessed) and the last with Brant Bjork. This album is a journey, and always conjures up images of the desert when I listen, It's the best album for driving down those boring Highways.
Musician wise everyone is top notch, even though they aren't perfect, the fact that the musicians aren't the best in the world makes what the play that much more powerful. Bjork's drumming always manages too keep everything glued together, while still sounding interesting. Reeder on bass is incredible, he not only compliments guitarist Josh Homme's playing, but he adds his own little bits here and there. The guitar is incredible, Homme's tone is very heavy and fuzzy. Together they are all very tight, it sounds like everyone is doing their own thing, yet it always comes together.
The album is split into three "suites" this was done as a joke to the record label, as they had asked for three singles from the album. The first suite is my favorite; Gardenia, the album opener has this really killer opening riff, nothing but Homme's fuzzed out guitar. It really lets you know that you're in for a fun ride. Asteroid is an all instrumental track, and serves as a bit of a bridge between Gardenia and Supa Scoopa and the Mighty Scoop. Supa Scoopa is a very riff oriented track, it starts off very soft but once it starts going it goes hard, with pounding riffs, and vocalist John Garcias powerful voice. At around the 3:00 mark on this track it just turns into an all-out jam, with everything sounding very improvised and organic.
Suite 2 is very soft in comparison to Suite 1, while Suite 1 sounds aggressive and heavy, Suite 2 sounds relaxed and chill in comparison. 100 Degrees is the most aggressive track on the album, with very nice lyrics about how trying to escape something you can't escape from; 100 degrees is a nice metaphor for the desert in general. Space Cadet sounds the most mellow on the album, there is zero fuzz on this track. Reeder and Homme both have very intricate playing on this track, a fary cry from the riff driven tracks that fill the album with. Demon Cleaner, the final track on the suite is amazing, everyone is doing their own thing, but it all comes together in this very cool song. This song makes me want to wave my arms in the sky, close my eyes, and let Kyuss awesome music take me away.
Suite 3 is very fast paced, it sounds more Motorhead than Black Sabbath, but it's very fun. Odyssey is really psychedelic and heavy, it has this neat little soft intro then just goes straight into this fast paced heavy riff. It's awesome. Conan Troutman sounds like a High on Fire song, very Motorhead- that is it is fast, simple, and fun. N.O. is actually a cover from the band Across the River, which Scott Reeder was in. Also in Across the River was Mario Lalli(also of Yawning Man and Fatso Jetson fame), who plays guitar on the track. I love the opening vocals ILL WAKE UP TOMORROW, TODAY! screams Garcia over intense music. Fucking awesome. Whitewater serves as the album closer, a song about missing your home. Garcia's vocals are very well done here, and the jam at the end is the best jam on the record. the album ends with an extremely cheesy hidden track called lick doo.
Welcome to Sky Valley is the penultimate Stoner Rock album. Everything on it is well done. The way it changes and tricks you and goes up and down. You never know what to expect as you listen. In a time when Grunge and Alternative (metal) were dominating the rock charts, Kyuss released this out of nowhere, it truly sounds like no other record before it. Kyuss Lives!