CLUTCH

"Psychic Warfare" (Weathermaker; 2015)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Clutch's "Psychic Warfare" starts off with a brief narration, an audio scene really, with an interviewer sitting down to talk with someone in what seems to be a seedy restaurant or bar ... or casino maybe. From that point on, each track on the CD seems to be a chapter in the interviewee's story, a series of short stories that build together to form a novel, and that feeling is capped when the CD ends and the interviewer returns. I'm not even sure that was the band's intention, but that's how well the songs on this album fit together.

And that's just one of the many things I like about the new Clutch album. There is a story being told here, from track to track, and it feels like it unfolds from the first track to the stunning final track. This band has always considered themselves storytellers and "Psychic Warfare" is a prime example of just that.

But, as I said, that's just one of the many things I like about this album. "Psychic Warfare" is big and bold, blasting out walls of sound with chunky guitar, throbbing bass and pounding drums. The vocals are raw and edgy yet sharp as well, especially on that final track, "Son of Virginia," which is the longest track on the album and almost certainly the one you'll most often hit 'replay' on.

There are times when the band slows down ... a little. "Our Lady of Electric Light" may have a slower tempo, but it's a smooth, groovy song that fits this album like a glove. And the intro to the aforementioned "Son of Virginia" may fool you into thinking you're in for another smooth ride but nothing could be further from the truth.

Clutch has been one of the great hard rock/heavy metal bands since their first album was released in 1993 and their evolution and consistency are nothing short of amazing. I've played "Psychic Warfare" a dozen times since I received it, and I can't wait to listen to it again. Better yet, it's driven me to dig out my old Clutch CDs and re-visit them. If that isn't a sign of a great new album, I don't know what is.

For more information, check out http://www.pro-rock.com

"Earth Rocker" (Weathermaker; 2013)

Reviewed by Snidermann

On Clutch's "Earth Rocker," the band's direct approach to rock'n'roll music that long-time fans expect is apparent from the beginning of the recording.

Clutch delivers a power-packed, streamlined performance here that is ignited from the very beginning and finally drops you from their clutches (get it?!) as the recording comes to a conclusion. These veteran rockers know how to put together a great release and all you have to do is go back to their catalog, pull any of their past CDs, and the magic is readily apparent.

In my opinion, Clutch is one of best down-to-earth bands out there today. You do not have to listen very hard to get what Clutch is about: high quality energetic music full of foot-tapping cuts. This is what makes "Earth Rocker" a truly enjoyable musical experience.

For more information, check out http://www.pro-rock.com

"Strange Cousins from the West" (Weathermaker; 2009)

Reviewed by Snidermann

With "Strange Cousins of the West," Clutch once again has proven that they are one of the best rock'n'roll bands out there today. They consistently record and release music that is fun and easy to listen to. They rock with a readily identifiable musical style and a simplistic brilliance that comes out heavy with each cut.

I'll admit it: I have only got to know (and grown to appreciate) Clutch in the last few years, but I have had loads of fun getting to know this fascinating and very talented band. One of the cuts here is a song called "Abraham Lincoln" and the band draws a picture of the death of that great American president that vividly puts the listener back in time to 1864

For more information, check out http://www.pro-rock.com or http://myspace.com/clutchband.

"Robot Hive: Exodus" (DRT Entertainment; 2005)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

Usually, I’ve listened to a CD at least once through before I begin to review it; sometimes I let it play while I bang out a readable review. Clutch, however, won’t let me do that. I have to listen to their CDs a few times before any thought can emerge. Why? Because these guys make you think and you’ve got to process that information while it munches on your stimulated brain.

I reviewed “Pure Rock Fury” after listening to and then reading Alicia’s dead-on review. Although that disc didn’t heighten my senses for Clutch, it did open a door to their type of music. There's a Led Zeppelin/funky/fuzz sounding style for each song represented here.

This disc has some straight forward rockers like, “Gullah,” “Mice And Gods” and “10,000 Witnesses." Those who live for the Clutch sound will be talking about this release for a long time. In my earlier reference to Clutch I called them "Stoner Rock." I’d like to refine my definition and say their sound is more “organic.” They have mastered the unrefined, untreated and crude sound that hard rock has been missing.

I’ve eased into the vocal style of Neil Fallon, too; plus his cool and cocky delivery just swaggers all over each song. He sounds like he would just spit in your face rather than debate you on his lyrics. The moxie coming from him is thicker than Greg Valentino’s biceps.

“Pulasky Skyway” has a raw solo that tsunami’s its way towards the end of the song, very unexpected but welcomed. “10001110101” has some wicked sounding Deep Purple organ; the split vocals give it tough tone, too. If I went song by song it would be considered dissection so I’ll encourage you to give this release a few spins so you can agree with me when I say: Clutch just pushed it into fifth gear.

The best songs are ... well, all of them.

Clutch: Neil, Tim, Dan and J.P.

For more information, check out http://www.pro-rock.com

"Blast Tyrant" (DRT Entertainment; 2004)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

I’m back to review another Clutch CD. I started with “Pure Rock Fury” and I said I wasn’t too impressed -- well, times sure change when you finally see the black light. "Blast Tyrant" has Clutch slinging mud on political figures knowing that no mud will ever be flung back. They swing a few times at religion, too. They still have a harsh tone and, keeping in step with their expansive lyrics, the unabridged title of this album is “Blast Tyrant’s Atlas Of The Invisible World Including Illustrations Of Strange Beasts And Phantasms.” Whew.

This disc keeps in the vein of the band's trademark fuzzy tone and hard rock solos but, if you listen to the music while paying attention to the great lyrics, I think you’ll hear a strong blues tone emerging. Neil Fallon has stated that his band is recognizing the blues as the root of all music and he could be the guy who directs this band to change their sound.

Clutch keeps with the same formula that, when mixed together, creates some of the crudest sounding guitar east of the Bible Belt. Always a band that relies on wordplay and (although they never encourage deliberation of their lyrics) they do make you think while they part your hair with their wit.

I listened to this disc a few times primarily because of their tongue-lashing capabilities but mostly for the music that seemed to change from “Pure Rock Fury” to this disc and on to “Robot Hive/Exodus.” Each of the band's CDs has a distinctive sound and the cohesiveness of all members involved is a credibility to their talents as musicians. Their absence from radio airplay doesn’t seem to stop their drive to make great records.

For more information, check out http://www.pro-rock.com

"Live at the Googolplex" (Megaforce; 2003)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

This CD was recorded live during Clutch shows in January and February 2002 and, as such, captures the band's unique style of wall-to-all rock'n'roll. 

It's all here: the bombastic guitar, Neil Fallon's brutal blues vocals, the crashing walls of sound that we've all come to know and love Clutch for. Again, Leslie West's "Immortal" (a song he wrote for the band) is astonishing in its familiarity as a Leslie West tune and in its perfection in fitting Clutch's modern sound.

What's perhaps most interesting, however, is that in all my previous listening to and reviewing of Clutch material, "Live" is the first CD in which I caught a hint of Frank Zappa inspiration in many of the tunes herein. This may have more to do with a recent re-run of "Saturday Night Live" starring Zappa that I watched than anything else, but the comparison is definitely there. That's not a bad thing. Like Zappa, Clutch seem to be a band that does their music their way. Hopefully, you're along for the ride; if not, they'll catch you on the flipside.

Another surprise here, however, isn't so positive. It seems that some of the band's "pure rock fury" is lost in this live recording. It's rare that a studio recording carries more punch than a live recording, but that's sometimes the case here. It isn't a matter of the band's charisma or performance, however. It's just that Clutch's steamroller sound plays better in a studio setting. East Coast Editor Christopher J. Kelter may have the answer here. He says "Clutch slay live (but) no live record can do them justice -- it'd have to be better than AC/DC's 'If You Want Blood, You've Got It" and that ain't happening anytime soon." 

Still, Clutch fans will want to add "Live at the Googolplex" to their collection.

Clutch: Tim Sult - axe and stacks; Neil Fallon - verbiage; J.P. Gaster - trapper keeper; Dan Maines - bass angler.

For more information, check out http://www.pro-rock.com

"Pure Rock Fury" (Atlantic; 2001)

Reviewed by Alicia Downs

"Pure Rock Fury," is a classic - a classic that will be spinning in your player long after other albums will come along and are forgotten. It is true Clutch signature style - a journey of unclassified sound with destinations so diverse you can just as easily shake your ass, bang your head, or just sit back, spark up and push play. But the best definition of this album comes from the title itself, for the compositions are truly nothing short of "Pure Rock Fury."

Propelled by their genius blend of stoner rock and metal, Clutch has again exemplified their genius in producing an album decidedly evolved from their others yet still identifiable as Clutch after the opening chords of "American Sleep." Title track "Pure Rock Fury" and stand out "Red Horse Rainbow" contains a little something of everything, tracks that can cater to the most eclectic of tastes serving up a diverse vocal and instrumental palate. 

Never short on humor, "Pure Rock Fury's" most amusing offering comes from "Careful Wit' that Mic" where the boys make commentary on the rap/rock combinations saturating even the most legitimate of metal stages. With lines like "What's the matter with you? How come you rhyme monosyllabically? Is atrophy shrinking your entire vocabulary?" Neil Fallon frighteningly sings a bewilderingly complex rhyme that can make you laugh your ass off while trying to sing along. 

"Pure Rock Fury" is signature Clutch - a reinvented sound yet still unique in their music and lyrical styling. A masterpiece that cannot be specified as any one thing - but I am sure that Clutch and their fans would not want it any other way. 

Clutch is: Neil Fallon (vocals), Jean-Paul Gaster (drums), Dan Maines (bass), and Tim Sult (guitar). 

For more information on the band, their albums, and upcoming tour dates you can check out their official web site: http://www.pro-rock.com

"Pure Rock Fury" (Atlantic; 2001)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

"Pure Rock Fury" is Stoner Rock. That alone could be the review but I'm going to give this CD the proper attention it deserves. 

Clutch has a sound that combines fuzzy guitar, Led Zeppelin, and funk to beat down your senses. A message is present, but not preachy. There is heavy metal guitar which makes it palatable for those who like a riff filler between other CDs. It's an hour well spent with a new sound.

If you're not into this type of music, "Pure Rock Fury" might require a planned intermission. It can be a little overwhelming with 13 tracks to digest. The lyrics deserve a read-through; they're cynical and critical. There is a hint of political pointing but the music is more prevalent and that's the way they want it.

I can't get into the vocals. It's almost a talk/sing style, sometimes brooding. I can certainly get into the guitar though. It's got a certain sound that demands to be recognized. It can be jazzy and funky and both at the same time.

No track stands out but the disc is solid in its assault of guitar and tribal drums. 

"Pure Rock Fury" was produced by Uncle Punchy.

Clutch: Neil Fallon - vocals; Tim Sult - guitar; Dan Maines - bass; Jean Paul Gaster - drums.

For more information, check out http://www.pro-rock.com

"Jam Room" (River Run Records; 2000)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

"Jam Room" opens with "Who Wants To Rock" which just also happens to be Clutch's opening tune in their concerts. This short, yet very appropriate mood setting piece is perfect for opening a Clutch show and now it's available on CD.

"Jam Room" continues the melding of Black Sabbath riffs with the supple touch of funk; as a result the music swings and grooves without sounding like the so-called "nu metal." The songs segue from one into another adding a 'jammy' feel as though the songs were given life from a free-form session that produced a wealth of ideas.

Aside from the three humorous little "skits" there are nine songs to tickle the fancy of Clutch fans everywhere. A trio of songs is really worth mentioning. The downright infectious "Gnome Enthusiast," a wah-drenched rave-up, is an ode to the porcelain men that inhabit many a suburban homeowner's yard. "Swampboat Upside Down," a cover song, is tasteful instrumental which is also a staple of Bakerton Group shows. A typically familiar Clutch type of riff can be found on "Basket Of Eggs" which recalls the darker delivery of the bands earlier days. 

Tim Sult (guitars), Dan Maines (bass), and Jean-Paul Gaster (drums) have never sounded this loose. However, the band still provides a solid foundation for Neil Fallon's vocals. Fallon's lyrics are created in a netherworld of reality blended with silliness and the edginess of post-impressionistic paintings for some of the best lyrics you'll ever sing-along to. The lyrics deal with an assortment of life's happenings such as solicitation by religious groups, a scathing yet humorous indictment of music industry folks, lawn ornaments, theories of who really occupies the Oval Office, and ancient Greek mythology as metaphor. 

For more information visit Clutch's official website at http://www.pro-rock.com and see what the boys have lined up for you.

"The Elephant Riders" (Columbia; 1998)clutch.jpg (12775 bytes)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

It took me forever to write this review of Clutch's brilliant CD, "The Elephant Riders." Why? Because the music is so freakin' hard to pin down. It's like classic, early '70s BLACK SABBATH guitars tied in with vocals that vary in style from near-New Wave to New Orleans blues wailing to scary monster slow-mo and songs that range from the bizarre ("The Elephant Riders") to the bizarre-er ("The Yeti," and "Muchas Veces.")

Produced by the legendary Jack Douglas (an interview with whom you can read by clicking here) "The Elephant Riders" is the freshest breath of air we've seen in the hard rock/heavy metal world in a long time. It's a bonfire of classic guitar techniques, daring vocal techniques and songwriting that is nothing short of absolutely unique.

Another thing that sets Clutch apart is the individuality of their sound. You hear a Clutch song and you know it's a Clutch song. The classic, heavy buzz of the guitars, the scratchy vocals, the stunningly original lyrics. Yep, that's Clutch.

As I said in the beginning of this review, it's hard to pin down Clutch. Regardless, take our word for it: This band rocks. Hard. Fresh. New. Clutch may just be the future of hard music.

By the way, this CD contains some absolutely bitchin' multimedia, including a multi-page notebook explaining how the songs were written, weblinks, and a couple of classic live performances from 1991.

CLUTCH is: Jean-Paul Gaster, drums; Neil Fallon, vocals; Dan Maines, bass; Tim Sult, guitar.

Check out Clutch's homepage at http://www.pro-rock.com/.

"Transnational Speedway League: Anthems, Anecdotes, and Undeniable Truths" (EastWest; 1993)clutch.jpg (11528 bytes)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

The full-length debut from Maryland's favorite sons made quite an impact in musical circles. There is great difficulty in describing Clutch - any effort usually falls short, but I'll give it my best shot: Clutch are Black Sabbath heaviness cross-bred with hardcore simplicity into an alchemy that marries classic riffs with modern day twists in the vein of Tool. Personally I prefer this: Clutch is Clutch is Clutch is Clutch - my point is that Clutch's unique sound is instantly recognizable - in other words, as distinctive as a band can be.

Lyrics separate Clutch from nearly every band on the planet; the lyrics are obviously well thought out, yet there is a visceral quality to the flow of words as though it was as natural as a conversation. The words are deliberately vague, but interesting; the inventive nature of the lyrics is like an exercise in creative writing. Subject matter runs from paranoia ("Binge And Purge"), commercialism ("12 Ounce Epilogue"), hate ("Milk Of Human Kindness"), and trailer park culture ("Walking In The Great Shining Path Of Monster Trucks"). The vocals fortify the musical collage that makes Clutch as unique as they are. Neil Fallon's delivery of the lyrics is unlike anything I've heard in heavy music.

Of course, the music is equally stunning. The spiritually demanding music of Clutch rewards the listener with a variety of songs that skillfully display the band's confidence and tasteful manner. To know that the band has achieved their success with virtually no airplay is remarkable.

Every song is simply great, but a few must be singled out. "A Shogun Named Marcus" leads of the disc in blistering fashion; this song remains a concert favorite. "12 Ounce Epilogue" adds a bit of humor to the cola wars (Coke, Pepsi, and RC) over a pile-driving riff that finds the band hitting on all cylinders. "Milk Of Human Kindness" romps through a heavy riff and a unison of the sharp vocals over the staccato verses all the while sounding unlike anything they've ever done. "Rats" is a seamless blend of high-strung riffage. "Earthworm" finds the band laying off the heavy riffs for most of the song with interesting droning pitches that offsets the frantic energy without losing the urgency of the rest of the disc.

"Transnational Speedway League" was produced, engineered, and mixed by Jonathan Burnside (Burnside has worked with Melvins, Godspeed, and Helios Creed) as well as Steve Haigler (Haigler has worked with Quicksand, Karma To Burn, and Jimmie's Chicken Shack).

Clutch has performed with such diverse acts as Marilyn Manson, Pantera, Bad Religion, Prong, and Iron Maiden. When Clutch have performed with these different types of acts you know you are dealing with a special group of musicians that when performing create something that simply cannot be duplicated.

Clutch are Neil Fallon on vocals, Tim Sult on guitar, Dan Maines on bass, and Jean-Paul Gaster on drums.

Check out Clutch's homepage at http://www.pro-rock.com/ and join the "pro-rock" revolution.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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