CLUTCH – Psychic Warfare
CLUTCH Line up:
Neil Fallon | vocals, guitar
Tim Sult | guitar
Dan Maines | bass
Jean-Paul Gaster | drums
You know you’re listening to a great album when you change your mind about your favourite track every second day. You find yourself singing along to the chorus on only the second run through. You have to pull over to the side of the road whilst driving to express your love for the album via a tweet. Enter Clutch’s Psychic Warfare. The Maryland rockers have been churning out stellar albums since 1991, some odd, some more drenched in stoner rock, some blues, some out and out rock, yet the band’s eleventh record, is their most accessible, their most rollicking.
While 2013’s Earth Rocker upped the ante in the band’s metallic bluesy sometime psychedelic riffs, Psychic Warfare goes up another notch. Succinct in delivery, most songs capped around the three minute mark, Clutch seem intent on quickly building on the momentum created with Earth Rocker, creating a ‘ready-made’ batch of tracks that will transform seamlessly to their lively stage performances. Drenched in groovy riffs and of course those Neil Fallon story telling lyrics or tales, Psychic Warfare is a thoroughly enjoyable ride.
We’re introduced to the record via ambient hotel ‘noise’, Fallon recording noise from a hotel bar before uttering ‘why don’t you just start at the beginning’. From there, we’re blasted into ‘X-Ray Visions’, guitarist Tim Sult’s first of many hooks and licks designed to fold into sing-a-long choruses and hard rock rhythm groove. Fallon’s lyrics, always slightly off-centre, slightly tongue-in-cheek with metaphors aplenty, “Next thing that I did, was tap out Morse code, with a wooden nickel on the received of the phone. Before I could complete it, I was quickly overtaken by the angry spirits of Ronald and Nancy Reagan.” I mean Fallon has out done himself in these lines he conjures.
‘Firebirds’ continues the rock groove, Fallon again the master at emphasising the chorus, delivering the lines perfectly amongst Sult’s frenetic riffs. ‘A Quick Death in Texas’ changes up slightly, a more murkier tale calling for a more murkier delivery, the bluesy beginnings dropping into another lyrical tale, amongst it, cowbells, ‘that’ patent groove and ‘that’ Fallon charm.
“It goes against my catholic upbringing, I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for the witch”, another uplifting want sing out loud chorus line by Fallon up next on ‘Sucker for a Witch’, as clutch roll back into the more hard rock theme before an edgier ‘Your Love is Incarceration’. Its furious bluesy-tinged fun with Sult’s hooks, the funk of Dan Maine’s’ bass and Jean-Paul Gagster’s succinct drumming combining to create some of the catchiest tunes in the Clutch repertoire. Add to that, Fallon’s lyrical tirades he somehow evolves into stories with three minutes and you have the crust of what Psychic Warfare represents.
‘Doom Saloon’, a Texas inspired instrumental allows the brief interlude before blending into ‘Our Lady of the Electric Light’, a slower paced tale that absorbs the audience into a charismatic western waltz that would not look out of place in a John Wayne yesteryear classic. ‘Noble Savage’ quickly restores the pace, a powerful 2 and a ½ minute purge, perhaps the fastest track in the band’s career and no doubt a moshpit favourite in the coming months. ‘Behind the Colossus’ and ‘Decapitation Blues’ continue the assault, all the while maintaining that bluesy groove to Fallon’s, sometimes, bizarre lyrics.
The album concludes with a seven minute epic, ‘Son of Virginia’. The southern rock now at the forefront, the guitar twang bathing in Fallon’s storytelling. Whereas Blast Tyrant may have had a rival in Earth Rocker for title of ‘best’ Clutch album over the journey, Psychic Warfare could well snatch the title depending on your taste. If you’re keen on the groove rock sing-a-long version of Clutch, look no further.
Album of the year, you say? ….it may well be.
Psychic Warfare tracklisting;
02. X-Ray Visions
04. A Quick Death In Texas
05. Sucker For The Witch
06. Your Love Is Incarceration
07. Doom Saloon
08. Our Lady Of Electric Light
09. Noble Savage Clutch
10. Behold The Colossus
11. Decapitation Blues
12. Son Of Virginia
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