Clutch - Earth Rocker (Weathermaker Records)
CD / DL / LP
Looking as ever like a bunch of elders from some obscure rural cult, Clutch have descended from their compound to deliver possibly their best, certainly their hardest rocking album, in a revered two decade-plus career.
Written as it was on the tail of support tours with Motorhead and Thin Lizzy, Earth Rocker is a beacon of straightforward old rock’n’roll values, resplendent behind Hawkwind-channeling cover art, condensing all the hardest-hitting parts of the quartet with a twist of their trademark blues swing. The title track is a turbo-charged statement of intent, preacher man Neil Fallon authoritively growling “What’s this about limits? Sorry, I don’t know none” over a riff that Lemmy would be proud to call his own.
DC Sound Attack revs in on a blast of Fallon’s harmonica and exits on head-nodding groove of drums and cowbells, and in between the main body of the song is one of their finest sleazy blues rhythms.
There’s little pause for breath – the gentle acoustic swing of Gone Cold is pretty much the only respite from full-amped arse-kicking that the album affords the listener. There are none of the tricksy time changes of Elephant Riders, little of the stylistic variety of Robot Hive / Exodus. Earth Rocker is their most direct offering since, well probably since the band’s early ‘90s beginnings (“Canned Heat – that’s the name of the game” – declares Fallon on Book, Saddle and Go). The guitar section of Tim Sult and Dan Maines have rarely got their heads down to such straightforward effect, and even though he reins in the mathematical variations, Jean Paul Gaster offers an absolute masterclass of inventive hard rock drumming.
After a couple of relatively indifferently received albums, this is an unequivocal return to Clutch’s very best form, and that means that it’s pretty much the best you’ll hear in the whole rock field right now.