Josh Homme may have started off his career as an excavator of desert-rock riffs, but he soon made it clear that he’s a far more versatile and appealing songwriter, not to mention a controlled-yet-slightly-unhinged performer. (I once saw him encourage a member of the audience — who he claimed was his brother — to grab his crotch.) Queens of the Stone Age, his primary vehicle of the past seventeen years, has included a rotating cast of players and guest performers, and has fearlessly taken his distinct brand of riff rock into conceptual, experimental, and melodic places. …Like Clockwork, the band’s latest (and its first release since 2007’s Era Vulgaris), shows Homme continuing to stray from the potent riffs on which he built his early career. Still, there’s a bombastic art-rock scale to songs like “If I Had a Tail” and “Kalopsia,” the latter of which is balanced with doo-wop dreaminess. The dirty bluesy riff of “Smooth Sailing,” meanwhile, sounds like an outtake from Eagles of Death Metal (Homme’s other outfit). Throughout, Homme is helped along with an even bigger roster of guests, including former collaborators Mark Lanegan, Nick Oliveri, and Dave Grohl, as well as Elton John, Scissor Sisters’ Jake Shears, Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor, and others. Sadly, those guests won’t perform with the band when it stops by the Oracle Arena (7000 Coliseum Way, Oakland) on Friday as part of LIVE105’s Not So Silent Night, but count on Homme to be plenty engaging — even from the nosebleed section.