Review Summary: Moving on from the grittier, rawer style of the band's previous albums, with The Elephant Riders, Clutch utilize a much wider range of influences to make their own unique style all the more interesting to listen to.
After the success of the band's sophomore self-titled second album, Clutch sounded ready to take on bigger and brighter things. As a result the band were moved to major label Columbia, and their third album, ]The Elephant Riders
once again proved them a consistent and confident group. With help from a louder, more polished production, the grittier, rawer musical style of Clutch's first two albums had now been eschewed in favour of much more experimental sound, invoking influences from blues, jazz and even funk into the mix.
Although The Elephant Riders
isn't all that different from Clutch's more recent albums, the instrumentation throughout is still enough to turn new heads, and the likes of “Ship of gold” and “The yeti” are both sterling examples. With heavier focus on the rhythm section, particularly bass and guitar work, songs such as the slower, more groove-oriented “Eight times over Miss October” and heavier “Green buckets” prove to be rather heavy and crunchy. There's nothing that stands out here in all honesty, but that's only because every song is more or less just as good as each other. Fallon's vocals more or less adopt the same range for every song, but when he takes on a more prominent approach, as with the chorus sections of both the excellent title track and “Muchas veces”, you can feel the power of the man's voice charging through the recording.
As said before, the band had taken on a different style for this album as they did with the previous two. The more funk-oriented style in “Ship of gold” and “Wishbone” (one of the heaviest songs in the band's career) utilizes those sweeping guitar notes and rumbling bass-lines to a great extent, and the controlled drum rhythms within “Eight times over Miss October” and closer “Dragonfly” give off a bluesier, groovier vibe which equally works in the band's favour. However, as an album, The Elephant Riders
does grow tiresome towards the end, and may simply make those who prefer Clutch's heavier, faster songs go back to what they like about the band best.
That said, Clutch's third album is strong in both musicianship and consistency, making for a well-written set of sometimes simplistic, other times more complex tunes from what must have seemed fifteen years ago a very promising band. There isn't anything more to say about The Elephant Riders
, save that it is a hint of what the band would go on to perfect with the next few albums.