Clutch Psychic Warfare2015 Weathermaker Music
You better believe it.
The general consensus is that Clutch‘s previous album “Earth Rocker” represented a second wind for the band—an unexpected hurrah considering it was the tenth full-length from a group nearly 25 years into their career. Given a somewhat close proximity of writing to that prior outing, this latest affair, “Psychic Warfare“, possesses many of the same traits.
It’s a rowdy, raucous road trip through bizarre corners of Americana, steeped in southern fried blues and gritty, swingin’ rock n’ roll. But overall, there’s two things that separate “Psychic Warfare” from its spiritual sibling. An immediately recognizable trait of this effort is its thematic nature.
The ability to tell tall tales via song is a gift frontman Neil Fallon has long since mastered and he really burns through the pages here. Starting off with a spoken word intro and ending with a humorously connected outro, Fallon delves deep into his reserves of eccentric hillbilly wisdom and outsider conspiracy. Spinning yarns of all manner of things both relatable and supernatural, he’s laid out quite the tapestry of fiction and fact here.
It’s classic Clutch kook, but Fallon really seems to feel comfortable in his skin, painting a broader picture than usual. Look no further than the two back-to-back tracks, “X-Ray Visions” and “Firebirds“, essentially being a duology to better understand his increased cinematic scope. Speaking of which, “Firebirds” in particular is an album standout, with its instantly latchable chorus and rollicking riff making it a shoo-in to become a live staple.
The other defining characteristic of this album is the inclusion of a few more pensive numbers. “Earth Rocker” for its part had a fairly linear momentum—essentially it almost always ‘rocked.’ There’s songs here like “Our Lady Of Electric Light“, which follow a path originally carved out by reflective numbers like Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s “Simple Man“.
The added range and enhanced dynamics certainly don’t hurt the record though. From the ZZ Top-like slow chew of “A Quick Death In Texas” to the unadulterated bluesy strut of “Decapitation Blues“, “Psychic Warfare” is an album that embraces resolved confidence and runs with it. “Noble Savage” is like a rockabilly band dodging bottles and fists in a bar brawl, while the dulled twang of “Son Of Virginia” feels like the soundtrack to a late season harvest.
It’s a wider palette with bolder ideas and for the most part, “Psychic Warfare” works. It may not be what you expected to arrive on the heels of “Earth Rocker“, but it certainly possesses a more diverse repertoire. The musicianship as always is top notch and feels a bit warmer than their past records. Each band member really digs into their performance but rarely overplay their hand, keeping things lively, brisk and organic. Basically, Clutch‘s latest renaissance continues full steam ahead.