‘Earth Rocker,’ the tenth studio album by Maryland-based quartet Clutch, wastes no time getting right into what many fans have come to expect from the band. Barely thirty seconds of the opening title track pass before singer Neil Fallon (above, far right) informs you that you just signed up for yet another lesson in “pure rock fury” with the line, “What’s this about limits? Sorry, I don’t know none.” He then drives home the point with the first of many towering chorus sections, “I’m an Earth rocker, everybody get the message.” And just in case you didn’t he adds an almost taunting and maniacal “Bwuuuhahahahaha,” as if he were some sort of rock and roll boogeyman here to eradicate all inferior bands.
The following song (and lead-off single) “Crucial Velocity” offers little in the way of a breather as it opens with an almost ominous tone: pounding drums quickly escalate into a chorus that has inspired many to call this a “heavier and faster” Clutch. However, upon closer inspection, one realizes that this is not a different band at all, but perhaps a tighter and more confident band. The song “Mr. Freedom” shows this with its chaotic guitar solo and double-time drumbeat towards the end. Clutch is a band that has, in its twenty plus years of existence, not only developed its own unique style, but has mastered it. This style shines exceptionally well during “DC Sound Attack,” with its harmonica accents and cowbell-laced drum breaks that would make even the most uptight listener nod their head in approval.[pullquote align=”right”]”Clutch is a band that has, in its twenty plus years of existence, not only developed its own unique style, but has mastered it.”[/pullquote]
To say that this is a band whose sound is rooted in the blues and classic rock would be an understatement of gargantuan proportions. When Fallon utters lines like “Hellhounds on your trail, what a pity, but that’s the price you pay shaking hands in necro city” you can almost imagine him standing at the crossroads trading tales with the ghost of Robert Johnson. The band keeps the album’s energy level high with “Unto The Breach,” which sounds like it could very well become a staple of future live performances. The somber mood of “Gone Cold” is the one moment in the album where the listener is afforded a moment to catch their breath and stop dancing. After that, “The Face” gradually moves the listener back into the realm of hard rock with yet another huge chorus and masterful drumming from Jean-Paul Gaster. “Book, Saddle & Go” brings the pace of the album back up to full fervor and almost sounds like something that could have been on their fan-favorite, 2004 album ‘Blast Tyrant.’ “Cyborg Bette” is an upbeat, radio-ready song with a familiar, yet futuristic take on the classic theme of a woman who drives her man crazy in all the right ways.
The final two tracks, “Oh, Isabella” and “The Wolf Man Kindly Requests…,” close out ‘Earth Rocker’ in a truly fan-pleasing manner. This final ten minutes displays the band’s signature “Stoner Rock” riffing and bluesy, soulful groove, beautifully entwined with just enough heavy riffing to remind you that Clutch are indeed still “Earth Rockers” at this point in their career. Just in case all the great music on this album has distracted you at all from it’s clever lyrical content, one of the last lines sung on this album is “Some people say my mind is a ghetto, obviously they’ve been gentrified…and I got no time for that.” The term “Rock and Roll Band” is rarely uttered anymore, but that is indeed what best defines Clutch. This is down and dirty, blues-based rock and roll at the finest it’s been in decades, perhaps even ever. If there is something wrong with this album, the problem is completely inaudible.