Review Summary: Reality is gettin' too damn unpredictable,
unpredictable times call for the reliable friend
Clutch 10th studio album "Earth rocker" arrives just in time to be your reliable friend in a weird and unpredictable year for music so far. Who would have thought that the two most acclaimed pop albums in 2013 to this point, come from that one goofy guy from N’Sync and David friggin Bowie. (I remind you, we have reached the year 2013, and Aladdin Sane just got 40 years old) But don’t worry about it, this band which has yet to prove their ability to write a bad album, is not about to go down the experimental route, nor are they going to dissapoint. If anything, "Earth Rocker" is a throwback to their earlier heavy and aggressive style, while always staying true to what the band is about. As a result, we get a great effort by a band which seems to be absolutley comfortable with where they stand and manages to put together an album that is sure to please the fans with it’s no-nonsense-attitude, while also being a great entry point for new audience, because this album is basically Clutch in a nutshell.
As musicians, Clutch always have been incredibly tight and while none of the band members are outstanding technicians, all of them are so comfortable playing with each other, that the final package is just a blast. "Earth Rocker" is no diffrent from that, with most of the tracks being so energetic that it's very hard not to get up and rock out to them. But, altough Greg has already pointed it out in his great review, no review of this album is complete without mentioning the standout performance by guitarist Tim Sult. While he always had a great knack for writing both catchy riffs and fist pumpingly awesome solos, his work on this album towers everything he has achieved before. Every single song on "Earth Rocker" comes with great riffs which range from downright aggressive and in your face ("The Wolf man kindly requests", "Mr. Freedom”) to heartfelt and blusy ("Oh, Isabella", "Gone Cold"). Once you've heard the lead melodies of "Cyborg Bette" or "Crucial Velocity", you won’t get rid of them, and you will enjoy every second of it. That’s not to say that the other band members don’t get their moments to shine, the rhythm section does a great job supporting, and provide the necessary stability, to the wild and at times frantic performances by Sult and Fallon.
Frontman Neil Fallon has always been one of the strongest, most charismatic and confident lead singers in the whole buisness. Nowhere is this more evident than on the opening track “Earth Rocker” where he just throws around amazing catch phrases like: “What's this, about limits, sorry I don’t know none” and “I don’t need no validation, ‘cus I wear mine on my sleeve” which, in the hands of any other Frontmann may have come off as stupid and pretentious. However, Neils performance is confident and sincere enough to sell every single verse. I can’t overstate how much a song like “Earth Rocker” could have been a complete disaster in the hands of a lesser frontman, especially whith the chorus just going bwhahahahaha in your face. Another standout performance by Fallon is D.C. Soundattack where he just grooves to the great riff from Sult and declares: "I'm a warmonger baby! I got blood in my eyes, and I'm looking at you" Fallon just seems to radiate energy on this song and throws himself at you, like nobody's buisness.
The albums as a whole lacks any real lowpoints, in fact it’s an amazingly consistent and enjoyable ride, which is no small feat, because Clutch don't step out of their comfort zone that much and mostly stick to what they're best at. One might think, that you can only take so many forthright rock songs in a row until you get bored, but that’s just not the case on the album. While all of the songs, except for the outstanding centerpiece “Gone Cold”, which gives the listener four precious minutes to breathe, are very similar stylisticly speaking, none of them sound samey. This is on the one hand due to the very good performances by all band members and on the other due to the fact that the songwriting is outstanding and the songs are packed with memorable lyrics and sing-along-choruses. And while the songs are blunt and aggressive at many points, the whole feeling of the album is very positive and energetic, which just makes for a great ride.
In short, Clutch proved to everybody and their grandma, that they still got it and added an amazingly consistent and pretty much flawless longplayer to their already stacked discography. If I had to point out anything negative, it would be that they don’t bring anything new to the table, but this record demonstrates that innovation is not always required to write a brilliant rock album.
“Everybody get the message? Bwahahahaha”
- Oh, Isabella
- Earth Rocker
- Crucial Velocity
- Gone Cold
- Cyborg Bette