clutch: psychic warfare review

Justin phillips(RIGHT) with Neil Fallon(LEFT), the lead singer for clutch

Justin phillips(RIGHT) with Neil Fallon(LEFT), the lead singer for clutch

My first band took it's name from a song by this band.  The song is called "Burning Beard".  The band's name is Clutch.  Formed in Maryland in 1991, Clutch's early sound incorporated influences of hardcore punk and post-hardcore.  As years went by and the band grew as musicians, they began to make a sound all their own.  Incorporating elements of hard rock, funk metal, blues and psychedelic rock to name a few, Clutch has made a name for themselves as enduring, tight knit band who don't get the recognition I feel they deserve.

Comprised of lead vocalist and guitarist Neil Fallon, guitarist Tim Sult, bassist Dan Maines and drummer Jean-Paul Gaster, Clutch have released ten full length albums and countless live albums and rarities collections.  Most notably, their music was featured frequently on the MTV show "Viva La Bam" during the show's run from 2003-2005.  Because of this, the band gained a whole new audience and wider recognition.

Clutch's first two albums (1993's "Transnational Speedway League" and 1995's self-titled album) were released on Eastwest Records.  1998's "The Elephant Riders" was the only Clutch album released on Columbia Records and has since gone out-of-print.  1999's "Jam Room" and 2001's "Pure Rock Fury" were released on two different labels.  Both records were critically well received.  For the band's next three albums, Clutch signed to the now defunct record label DRT Entertainment.

2004's "Blast Tyrant", their first release under DRT Entertainment, is quintessential Clutch.  Their signature sound incorporating different genres proved to be a success commercially and critically.  Their song "The Mob Goes Wild" was featured in the video game Rock Band 2 while "The Regulator" was featured on the eighth episode of the second season of AMC's popular show "The Walking Dead".  As a fan of both Clutch and The Walking Dead, I'd be lying if I said I didn't freak out when i heard the song on one of my favorite shows.

One year later saw the release of Clutch's seventh studio album "Robot Hive/Exodus".  Further implementing their signature sound, the record proved to be another success for the band.  "From Beale Sreet to Oblivion", released in 2007 has always been one of my favorite albums the band has made.  "Beale Street" screams blues as vocalist Neil Fallon channels his recognizable, gravel voice into the well put together collection of songs.  Notalbe tracks from this album include "Electric Worry" which segues right into "One Eye Dollar" and "Mr. Shiny Cadillackness".  I was fortunate to see Clutch perform in Missoula in March 2008 and met Neil Fallon on the street hours before the show.  He's one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet and the band puts on one hell of a show!

Following touring in support of "Beale Street", the band parted ways with DRT Entertainment and established their own record label "Weathermaker Music" in 2008.  With this business move Clutch were able to be their own bosses and handle their music as they saw fit.  When DRT Entertainment folded in 2009, the band got back the masters to the music they made under their label and have since reissued past releases over the years.

Clutch's first release under Weathermaker Music was 2009's "Strange Cousins from the West" followed by 2013's "Earth Rocker".  Both albums further implemented the band's love for the blues and experimenting with their sound.  Both of these albums I highly suggest you take a listen to!

Now to the album I'm reviewing today, "Psychic Warfare".  The announcement of the album caught me off guard.  Sometimes you can't beat a nice surprise, especially when the surprise involves great music from a great band such as Clutch.  The album's first single "X-Ray Visions" is a great kick-off following a 25 second opening intro that flows right into the lead single.  From there the album continues to flow as a collective whole.  The lyrical content of "Psychic Warfare" is everything i expect from a Clutch album and then some.  Vocalist Neil Fallon sounds AMAZING and delivers some of the best vocals you'll hear from any release of this year and in my opinion stands as the best vocal performance of the band's entire catalog.  

Guitarist Tim Sult's blues-saturated guitar playing has never sounded better.  "A Quick Death in Texas" is a great example of this.  The beauty of blues guitar playing is you don't have to go overboard.  Simplistic blues riffs and chords do wonders and Tim Sult proves this to be true.  There's honestly not a bad song on "Psychic Warfare".  "Sucker for the Witch", "Our Lady of Electric Light" and "Son of Virginia" are highlights for me that show how tight knit Clutch sounds and that they clearly haven't lost steam 14 years into their career.

"Psychic Warfare" is a welcome addition to Clutch's incredible catalog of releases.  It oozes the blues, rock and vocals so enticing you'll find yourself playing this record on repeat.  If you're a fan of great hard rock and blues with a bit of oddity on the side, "Psychic Warfare" is worth checking out!

Links for Clutch