There are two types of people in this world: those who love Clutch and those who haven’t heard them yet.
I love this band and I’m not ashamed to admit it. They are impossible to pigeonhole. Metal? Stoner rock? Heavy Blues? Nothing quite sums up these four men from Germantown, Maryland. One thing is for sure though, nobody quite sounds like Clutch.
Clutch have the tightest rhythm section in rock. I don’t know if the Swiss make metronomes but if they do they aren’t as accurate as Jean-Paul Gaster and Tim Maines. Tim Sult seems to have a bottomless bag of riffs that make crystal meth seem as addictive as lettuce. Neil Fallon is part atheist preacher, part cynical poet. He is my favourite lyricist purely on the strength of what I describe as his intelligent nonsense.
Psychic Warfare is the follow up to 2013’s Earth Rocker and it picks up where that powerhouse of an LP left off. It’s hard to exactly pinpoint how they evolve with each new release but rest assured that they do. Each album is a little bit more Clutch than the previous one and that really is one of the best compliments I can bestow upon any band.
It starts off with a strange recording of a hotel lobby which leads into the lead single ‘X-Ray Visions’. This is classic Clutch with riffs larger than a whale’s bicycle and Mr Fallon giving us the tongue-in-cheek ‘conspiracy theory whacko’ act that we’ve come to know and love. The horoscope themed break is immense.
‘Firebirds’ is not about the Gibson guitars as I would have assumed, in fact I have no idea what it’s actually about. It doesn’t really matter as it’s great anyway. ‘A Quick Death In Texas’ is a dirty blues sleaze-fest with a fantastic chorus. You try rhyming the phrase “a quick death in Texas”, it’s not an easy task. And for Christopher Walken fans there is an adequate amount of cowbell in this song.
‘Sucker For The Witch’ has a speedy, immensely catchy refrain and ‘Your Love Is Incarceration’ slows things back down into bluesy riff territory. As the album progresses you get the urge to grow a beard and lecture passers-by about the pros and cons of John Deere farm machinery. This album is that hirsute.
‘Our Lady Of Electric Light’ is this album’s ‘The Regulator’, a slow-burning, bitter song that manages to be as catchy as it is soulful. ‘Noble Savage’ is another fast song with a punk feel and another great riff. Brief but memorable. It harkens back to their more hardcore roots. He really is an “unapologetic lifer for rock and roll”.
The next track is my favourite one on the album, ‘Behold The Colossus’. How can you not love a song with the line “Atop the buttress the gargoyle sits, the fragile foundation crumbles to bits’? Fabulous mythical themed bunkum that I can’t get enough of.
‘Decapitation Blues’ is perhaps the album’s catchiest song with a driving rhythm and even more brilliant lyrics. You’ll not hear about being kicked in the neck by a three legged mule in any other song. Clutch bring things to a close with ‘Son Of Virginia’, another slow, bluesy number in the vein of ‘Gone Cold’, perhaps my favourite song from Earth Rocker. It plays like the soundtrack to a sad Western. Its roots are in blues but it has a distinct country flavour. To end we are back to a weird sample again and we fade to silence.
All in all, this is a fantastic album that will appeal to the band’s hardcore fanbase and Clutch neophytes alike. Of course, I am incredibly biased as Clutch are one of my favourite bands but I genuinely think this album deserves a solid 9/10. It might not be the best Clutch album but it is a fantastic introduction if you have never heard the band before.
Buy it now and embrace the riff-tastic goodness and intelligent nonsense. Better still, see them on the road in December, their live shows are absolutely amazing. There is no fixed setlist for the tour so each night is different. I guarantee you a good time. 4/5
Check out all the latest music releases in our new album reviews section, including John Grant’s album of the week Grey Tickles Black Pressure.