Clutch
Transnational Speedway League


3.5
great

Review

by Robert Davis CONTRIBUTOR (152 Reviews)
December 11th, 2013 | 7 replies


Release Date: 1993 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Clutch's shaky start is still a great one.

Though they are now better known for sophomore albums such as Robot Hive/Exodus and the recently released excellent Earth Rocker, Clutch sounded like a very different band to begin with. The band's debut album, Transnational Speedway League: Anthems, Anecdotes and unbelievable Truths, was released three years after their formation, and although some may be put off by the gritty, cutting edge rawness of the instrumentation and particularly frontman Neil Fallon's gruff vocals, it still showed Clutch as a band with a very promising future.

Clutch's first album is simply a collection of some of the most aggressive, straight edge songs that the band have ever written. You don't have to listen closely to realize this. Opener “A shogun named Marcus” is a short but rough number, “Binge and Purge” is so hateful that you just can't get Fallon's voice out of your head after screaming “Mother***er” over and over again, and the obvious hardcore influence in “12 ounce epilogue” is so bass-heavy that stereo speakers may be no more after the song is played. Slower songs such as the confusingly titled “Walking in the great shining path of monster trucks” and album highlight “Heirloom 13” make great use of the band's sludgy instrumental performance, and naturally Fallon's rough voice seems a perfect fit. There isn't really anything particularly remarkable about any of the instruments here, save the excellent guitar leads courtesy of Tim Sult, who makes songs such as “Milk of human kindness” and “Rats” all the more worthwhile to listen to. The drums are perhaps the least notable of all instruments used on Transnational..., but still manage to keep the rhythm section from stagnating.

All this said, Clutch's debut album isn't really ideal for those who prefer the more upbeat likes of the band's more recent material. Despite the shorter, faster songs which barely reach three minutes, the whole of Transnational... seems to rely too much sometimes on sludgy, raw instrumentation and on songs such as “12 ounce epilogue” and the equally as filler-based “Bacchanal” monotony certainly creeps in. It's not a terrible thing really, because as we all know, Clutch has been known to pull this sort of style off time and again, but it doesn't really improve the consistency of the album either. Another problem that some may find too obvious is Fallon's cleaner vocals in “Milk of human kindness” and the first half of “Binge and purge”, which are unsuitable for the musical style being performed at the same time. As a result the vocals unfortunately sound out of place.

Clutch's first album still deserves to be given a listen or two, if only because you'll be curious of what the band sounded like in their earliest years. Transnational Speedway League... is definitely a good start to a exemplary musical career, but just don't go into this album expecting anything on par with albums such as Robot Hive/Exodus or Earth Rocker.



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Chart.
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
greg84
Staff Reviewer
December 11th 2013


7421 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Great review, Robert. It's obviously one of my favorite bands.

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fromtheinside
December 11th 2013


18717 Comments


its weird that i don't like clutch all that much and love chevelle

i've still never checked out earth rocker but i might. this is a solid review as it piqued my interest

Digging: Devin Townsend Project - Z2

greg84
Staff Reviewer
December 11th 2013


7421 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I don't think both bands are very similar tbh. They approach hard rock from totally different perspectives from each other.

RadicalEd
December 12th 2013


2696 Comments


The diffrence between clutch and chevelle is pretty obvious to me. One of them sucks ass, the other one does not.

This album is oooookay. I prefer their later work obviously.

Digging: Jakob - Sines

TheSupernatural
December 12th 2013


1239 Comments


Chevelle is pretty good, especially considering the genre they're in.

Digging: Closure in Moscow - Pink Lemonade

Gard3n
December 26th 2013


286 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This was a nice surprise. "Marcus" is awesome.

mark7477
March 8th 2014


393 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I like this enough to say that their first album was a nice start and it's definitely worth a listen perhaps some interesting if not good stuff here.On the other hand I prefer blast tyrant over this in a long shot the songs on this one can sound tired at times.



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