Your review is pretty spot-on. I dig the album, and really enjoy some of the songs, but I don't think that the main problem with the album is Homme's absence, it's that they're trying to re-create his presence. It sounds like they're trying so hard to create those classic Kyuss albums without one of their main songwriters. At any rate, I like the album and looking forward to seeing some of these tunes live.
I love inside jokes, I'd love to be a part of one some day.