Earth Rocker

Written by: IM on 18/03/2013 13:23:59

When popular music publications begin to tout ‘Album of the year’ long before the days start growing shorter, listeners will inevitably be clamoring to know what all the fuss is about. It’s no surprise therefore, that Clutch’s tenth studio album, “Earth Rocker,” has been so highly anticipated. This is the band’s first collaboration with ‘Machine,’ since their celebrated 2004 release “Blast Tyrant.” Clutch's subsequent collaboration with the regular producer for the revered and respected; from Lamb of God to King Crimson, has added to the hype. “The Regulator,” the defining track from “Blast Tyrant,” is considered by many to be the ultimate stoner rock anthem. Therefore with Clutch behind the wheel and ‘Machine’ turning the cogs in the studio once more, diehard fans have been counting the days to this release.

A split second of title track and single release “Earth Rocker” is all you need to know that Clutch are back with their trademark guitar sleaze and catchy choruses. For Clutch fans around the world this is excellent news. With “Crucial Velocity” Clutch have stamped on the accelerator pedal and given their listeners an album to break the speed limit to. Easily the best track and the closest competition for “The Regulator,” comes in the form of “Gone Cold.” For anyone who appreciates the soulful, echoing, chilled out blues sound of the stoner rock genre, this is the ultimate musical accompaniment for a good toke by the campfire. It is Clutch’s bluesy, sorrowful guitars, which can be heard at their best on this track, making them the genre’s standard bearers and when coupled with Neil Fallon’s haunting vocals, gives them the crown.

Following this mellow interlude, Clutch are back in gear and headed for the fast lane once more as they pick up pace with “The Face.” The intro to “Book, Saddle and Go” builds up the anticipation, then gathers momentum in the verse, before bursting into a trademark Clutch chorus. Whilst "canned heat, that’s the name of the game" could better be described as ‘build up speed, catchy chorus, that’s the name of the game,’ Clutch are often described as somewhat formulaic. This is true to an extent, but the band know what they are good at and are capable of executing it. It’s the age old conundrum about re-inventing wheels and the high standard of the track “Book, Saddle and Go” demonstrates quite how pointless a square wheel would be.

“Cyborg Bette” does not start out as well as some of the other tracks, but quickly turns into the kind of very fast, bluesy riffs, which in theory sounds like a contradiction, but no-one can ever execute quite as well as the Maryland quartet. If the album continued to gather any more momentum, by the end of this track, Clutch would inevitably reach their crucial velocity and blow up. “Oh Isabella” brings an opportunity for them to enjoy a bit of a blues cruise in the middle lane. But for Clutch, it’s not all about speed; this track is another test drive for Fallon and Tim Sult to demonstrate their aptitude for slower songs, thereby exhibiting their proficiency with six stringed instruments. Clutch like to finish on a high and the concluding track “the Wolf Man Kindly Requests” is no exception. Clutch albums tend to build up pace ending with a track, which gets faster and faster until the band goes out in flames. Always a better option than to just fade away.

Clutch have been called many things by many people. Some find their ‘music for music’s sake’ approach pretentious. There is always a slight irony in hearing successful rockstars telling their fans that, if you are making music for the love of music, you have already ‘arrived.’ Clutch have, in that case, already arrived and are now on their way to the moon. While “The Regulator” is in no danger of being forgotten any time soon, and whatever your take on the band’s ethos, it’s undeniable that “Earth Rocker,” is Clutch at their best, hurtling down the fast lane. As for ‘album of the year,’ the race is on, so any bands with releases coming up had better pull their fingers out.


Download: Gone Cold, Crucial Velocity, Oh Isabella
For The Fans Of: Down, Crowbar, Corrosion of Conformity

Release Date 18.03.2013

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