You can always rely on Clutch to provide a hectic hard-hitting rock album. Over two decades of bluesy anthems has seen the Maryland quartet stick to their guns and hardly fluctuate from their funk blues sound they’ve perfected since the early 90s. Recent years has seen the band release music from their own record label, allowing them to take their time over albums, hence the 4 year gap since ‘Strange Cousins From The West’, the largest between any of their albums.
‘Earth Rocker’ stands as Clutch‘s tenth full-length record and is notably faster and heavier than previous efforts, due to a realisation by drummer Jean-Paul Gaster while touring with Motörhead and Thin Lizzy, that there’s “a lack of straight up rock and roll records coming out these days”.
While the last ten years saw Clutch experiment with organs and electric pianos, ‘Earth Rocker’ takes the band back to basics, with heavy metal tracks ‘Crucial Velocity’ and ‘Mr. Freedom’ sure to please long standing fans and the younger generation alike. The riffs are as low as ever and create that cool stoner rock feel that Clutch have been feeding us for 20 years. The harmonica featured on fan favourite ‘Electric Worry’ from ‘From Beale Street To Oblivion’ returns for ‘D.C. Sound Attack!’, with frontman Neil Fallon taking the reins. The instrument adds a more upbeat melody to the song, while Fallon bellows out, “You’re a war monger baby, and you know you can’t deny it”.
‘Earth Rocker’ slows down for spoken word acoustic number, ‘Gone Cold’, to give your ear drums a well needed rest without hindering the flow of the album. The variance enables the enjoyment of the remaining heavier tracks without feeling a sense of monotony or the band changing the direction of the music. Following on is ‘The Face’, a track that gives Fallon an opportunity to showcase his vocals in a style featured more heavily on 2005’s ‘Robot Hive/Exodus’ over Tim Sult‘s hypnotising picking.
Even into their 40s, Clutch are still creating solid albums front start to finish. Saving the best to last, the rock ‘n’ blues surge bows out to ‘The Wolf Man Kindly Requests…’ and is sure to confirm your need for a neck brace for the foreseeable future. Teaming up with top rock producer Machine for the first time in a decade seems to have done wonders for the band and provided them with what is sure to be one of the top stoner rock albums of 2013.
Written by Mike Heath