Crab cakes, Kix and Clutch…if those are the 3 things your state is famous for…#WINNING!! Clutch has stood the test of passing time. 1991 was a crazy year for the state of music; the 90’s were an even crazier time. Bust into the early Y2K, just rinse, repeat 90’s with shampoo and apply beard oil. Bigger bands than Clutch from those formative and beyond years, have either died or hit the tar pit oldies circuit. Clutch has more K.O’s than Marciano and Rocky Balboa. As a matter of fact they could really be the “Rocky” of the Alt Hard Rock crowd. Underdogs from Maryland that had a surprise hit that wasn’t even supposed to be a single in “Careful with That Mic” all the way through their 11th release, 2015’s “Psychic Warfare.”
This writer is far from a fan of all things 90’s and beyond. To me, I looked at most of the pop rockers posing as hardcore and the nu-metal as an alternative form of aggression and “fun” that rose from the ashes of Arena and Glam Metal as the scourge” of rock. The wannabes that think throwing the middle finger and wearing ripped worn out clothes are somehow “edgy”. Sure I may have heard some “new” sounds coming out back then, but it was nothing more than more aggressive 70’s cock-rock in flannel with a heroin addiction. Then among the rebels, I found a little band that on the surface looked like a “Bang Tango” of its era in the form of Clutch. By that I mean it with the utmost respect, here was a band that looked a “little” different than their counterparts, who were killer musicians individually and collectively and who wrote some really great tunes. Maybe it was my not paying much attention to who was headlining what festival or huge tour, but I didn’t see Clutch being one of “those” bands. What I did know was that one day Clutch would be standing over a lot of their peers like Ali standing over his hero Sonny Liston.
Here we are in 2015 and you’d be hard pressed to find not only a BETTER release from those bands of yore to even a modern day contemporary. “Psychic Warfare” shows Clutch’s ability of keeping it real and some serious strong writing. I see the term “stoner rock” bandied about when speaking of Clutch and plenty of others, I think of that term in the same vein as I do when I hear “hair metal”; for whatever reason I think it does a disservice to the end. This is just some good ol’ hard rock and fucking roll, the way that updates the past with a current fist punch. Honestly at Clutch’s worse, they’ve put out a 7.5 in the whole back
From the start of “The Affidavit” straight into “X-Ray Visions” you’re experiencing something of an automatic head-bang and yes, psychic warfare IS real. “Firebirds” continues the aggression.
“A Quick Death in Texas” is what you’d get if The Jimi Hendrix Experience or ZZ Top began in the late 90’s. You get the funk and roll that shows that “stoner” label might not be so offensive after all.
Track 5 brings “Sucker for the Witch” showing Clutch doing what Clutch does in 2015…crushing it! The next three mid- tracks, “Your Love is Incarceration,” with the droning instrumental “Doom Saloon” leading into the “Our Lady of Electric Light” while not total standouts alone are far from the “mailing it in” that some would try to have you believe. The writing and performance have me excited to hear and see how well these tunes will go over live.
“Noble Savage” brings it back fast and furious with the drum, guitar, and vocal attack all for rock and roll! Surge into the guitar intro of track numero ten with “Behold the Colossus” and this disc is spreading the wealth of talent on all kinds of f’d up levels.
With track 11, “Decapitation Blues” gives you a little slant on Clutch “Maryland Rock & Roll Blues” and it sets up the disc finale, “Sons of Virginia” perfectly. With a bluesy, droning guitar intro to the tale of nineteen-ninety- eight that does NOT disappoint on any level. You gotta know your history folks, dig back re-visit your Clutch catalog and start with “Psychic Warfare”…who says rock and roll is for the young by the young? I bet ya Clutch will put a nice jackboot to your throat and offer a nice answer!