Review Summary: Clutch combines hard rock and blues into one neat package. There is one advantage Clutch has over other bands: they are catchy as hell. Whether it's the riffs, the drum beats, or the words, Clutch's music is guaranteed to refuse to leave your mind.
Take a look at this record's full title, Blast Tyrant's Atlas of the Invisible World Including Illustrations of Strange Beasts and Phantasms, and you will start to have an idea of the strange, quirkiness that surrounds the band Clutch. They are certainly a strange band, combining musical influences of blues, hard rock, and stoner rock all into one neat package.
Neil Fallon - Vocals/Guitar
Tim Sult - Guitar
Dan Maines - Bass
Jean-Paul Gaster - Drums
The first thing that needs to be said about Clutch is the songwriting. While the songs follow a rather traditional format, the musicianship is tight. Everyone in the band works flawlessly together. The riffs are heavy and catchy, the bass grooves, the drums are jazzy, the vocals are deep and powerful, and the lyrics are intelligent yet humorous at the same time. The songs flow rather nicely, and nearly every one contains a solo that works well without being too complicated.
As soon as the album starts, the listener experiences the chemistry of the band. Mercury
starts with about a minute of the band jamming together. The song flows well, with the band feeding off of each other's energy. Then vocalist Neil Fallon enters the scene, singing the lyrics "Daedalus, your child is falling and the Labyrinth is calling," in his gruff, deep voice. The song moves on from there with Fallon singing lyrics full of allusions to Greek Mythology. Mercury
sets a nice mold for the rest of the album to follow, making a great opener.
A classic example of Clutch's songwriting prowess is the sixth track, The Regulator
, the name being a reference to a pendulum clock brand. The name fits rather well, for the song swings back and forth between lighter acoustic parts and heavier, distorted sections much like a pendulum. Both the lighter and heavier aspects are used to their full advantage and one never seems to take precedence over the other. The lyrics are well written as well. Taking a break from the humor, Fallon manages to write meaningful, thoughtful lyrics about the journey of life and the inevitability of death.
My personal favorite aspect of Clutch is the lyrics. Fallon manages to write tongue-in-cheek lyrics that can be serious and politically charged at the same time. Songs like The Mob Goes Wild
or Profits of Doom
are chock full of social commentary with tongue-in-cheek references. Other songs such as The Regulator
are much more meaningful. However, there are still plenty of songs like Subtle Hustle
and Promoter (Of Earthbound Causes)
that are just plain silly. For example, take the opening lines of The Mob Goes Wild
, "Please allow me to adjust my pants/ So I may dance the good time dance/ And put the onlookers and innocent bystanders into a trance." It may make little sense, but it’s all in good fun. I'll admit, I’ve caught myself singing it for no apparent reason at times.
However, all of this isn't to say this album is without its faults. Song length is an issue. Many of these songs do not make it over the three and a half minute mark. While at times this works to an advantage, I can't help but want more from some of them, particularly Spleen Merchant
and Subtle Hustle
. Also, at times, Clutch decides to add something to the end of a song for almost no apparent reason at all. At times, they are nice additions (such as the jam session at the end of Army of Bono
) while others are just tedious and boring (like the minute and half of feedback and silence following (Notes from the Trial of) La Curandera
) Finally, the last song, Wysiwyg
, is fun to listen to the first couple of times, but it loses its potency after a few listens. To me, they could have ended the album on a much better note.
+ Solid musicianship.
+ Great songwriting
+ Great lyrics.
- Those looking for mind-blowing technical prowess would do better to look elsewhere.
- Songs sometimes seem too short.
- Some noise sections aren’t needed. (Did we really need a minute and half of feedback after (Notes from the Trial of) La Curandera?
seems a little tacked on.
Profits of Doom
, The Mob Goes Wild
, Cypress Grove
, The Regulator
, and (Notes from the Trial of) La Curandera