Clutch – Earth Rocker (2013)
After nine studio albums, for which I’d be hard pressed to find even one song that I could criticise by Clutch, I would be surprised if they could dish up anything that taste anything but the sweetest of sweet blues-infused stoner rock on this, their tenth album.
Clutch are from Maryland, USA, and have graced us with their presence for 23 years. While they are first and foremost a hard rock band, their sound draws influences from many sources, earlier on in their career, they were more stoner influenced, with some psychedelic delvings, especially on tracks such as Big News I, with its backmasked drums, and Spacegrass, off their second album Clutch (1995), through big heavy grooving metal tracks on Blast Tyrant (2004) and Robot Hive/Exodus (2005), or even rap (albeit in parody) on Careful With That Mic… from Pure Rock Fury (2001); and even Black Sabbath-esque doom metal on tracks such as Heirloom and Binge and Purge, both on debut album Transnational Speedway League (1993). In more recent years on Strange Cousins From The West (2009) and From Beale Street To Oblivion (2007), Clutch have developed a more bluesy feel, with added harmonica and organ.
While Earth Rocker isn’t as heavily influenced by the blues as these more recent outings, there are still snippets on this album; D.C. Sound Attack opens with chugging harmonica-rock, typical of Aerosmith, and Gone Cold, a sombre bayou-blues number. Elsewhere, riffs are abundant and so are the grooves so typical of Clutch, from the brtually heavy on Unto the Breach to the subtle and driving on title track, Earth Rocker. Also present are multiple references to the arcane, mythology, religion, science fiction, etc. that are so typical of Clutch and they have a canny knack of weaving complex narrative into their songs; Cyborg Bette describing the breakdown in relationship between a man and his robot partner or The Face recounting the dystopian downfall of Rock n’ Roll.
Clutch are truly on form here, rocking it hard and heavy with an inscrutable ear for a hook, riffing it like daemons, and grooving it like a beast. Fans will not be disappointed and, for those new to Clutch, this would make a fine introduction to these blues-rock heavyweights.
Favourite tracks: D.C. Sound Attack, Gone Cold, Book Saddle and Go
Spotify link: Clutch – Earth Rocker