Clutch – Psychic Warfare
Release Date: October 2, 2015
Let’s be honest, Clutch is going to have to reach new heights of sonic mastery to beat its 2013 masterpiece, Earth Rocker. That said, if anyone can do it, these Maryland rockers are more than capable. Let’s answer the question at the outset, Psychic Warfare is not better than its predecessor, but it is equally brilliant in its own way.
Originally founded in 1991, bassist Dan Maines, guitarist Tim Sult, drummer Jean-Paul Gaster and vocalist Neil Fallon have crafted an inspired eleventh studio album with Psychic Warfare: A record that celebrates the breadth of the quartet’s first 25 years.
The quirky 25-second intro, “The Affidavit”, opens the record and segues nicely into the album’s first single, “X-ray Visions”. The song is equal parts raucous celebration and defiant groove, with a bouyant, tongue-in-cheek delivery from the whisky-rusted voice of Fallon. “Firebirds” follows in a similar vein, giving the album a solid punch to begin the record.
“A Quick Death in Texas” is a laid back little Tejas romp that resonates a ZZ Top vibe, and that nod to Billy Gibbons and company can also be heard in the bluesy swagger of “You’re Love is Incarceration”.
Dan Maines gets to brandish his own wares on the bass driven “Sucker for a Witch”. Sult takes a nice solo excursion, and the song is pushed by the casual expediency of Gaster’s stick work.
The album’s second half slows the pace a bit with the Ennio Morricone vibe of “Doom Saloon” and “Our Lady of Electric Light”. Fallon’s syncopated cadence adds to the spaghetti western feel. Somewhere in the future Quentin Tarantino will likely steal this for one of his films.
The tempo picks back up with the run and gun, almost surf-like fretwork of “Noble Savage”, which is followed by perhaps the album’s best riffage on “Behold the Colossus”.
“Decapitation Blues” falls somewhere between a Sabbath-like groove and a sludgy stoner vibe. Gaster taps through a nice little breakdown Sult and Maines tightly hewn rhythms.
The album closes out with a rolling cantor that resonates a ghost town atmosphere on “Son of Virginia”. The song builds into a beefy and nuanced middle section before trotting back into its slow and moody pace, and bringing it all home with a raging fury.
Clutch has reached a point in its career where its less about innovation and more about sticking with what the band knows it excels at. Every album is simply a new reason to get back on stage, and many tracks on Psychic Warfare are built for live consumption where fans can truly appreciate what the band is about. This is another solid affair from a band that is comfortable in its sonic shoes.