I’m just gonna get this out of the way right now. Clutch are one of my favourite bands! I haven’t been there from the start though, it wasn’t until 2013’s ‘Earth Rocker’ was released that I really became a huge fan. I’d heard them before on comps, tracks like ‘Power Player’ and ‘Burning Beard’, I even had ‘Strange Cousins From the West’ in my cd collection, but when ‘Earth Rocker’ hit me I was baptised in the pure rock fury of Clutch and the penny finally dropped. Clutch are fucking amazing!
‘Sunrise on Slaughter Beach’ is the band’s thirteenth album in nearly thirty years with the last being released four years ago. The band may not be quick to release new albums but they always drop a banger so I was eager to hear what they had in store for us this time.
Opening with the first single from the album ‘Red Alert (Boss Metal Zone)’ – beginning with a trippy drum and bass loop before ripping into a breakneck rock masterpiece – the energy is off the scale as fat drums charge along with a unison guitar and bass attack giving lead singer Neil Fallon a platform for his Sci-Fi lyrics. The song is Fallon’s way of addressing the pandemic, specifically the numerous hoaxes and conspiracy theories surrounding the event. The infamous guitar effect, the Boss Metal Zone’s schematic was used as ‘proof’ of a chip that was supposedly put into covid-19 vaccines. Utter nonsense. That being said most of the lyrics draw from The Sci-Fi masterpiece ‘Blade Runner’.
Following this, we have the latest single and title track ‘Sunrise on Slaughter Beach’. Do you like Riffs? The chorus has a belter. The slower tempo from the previous song gives it a cool swagger. There’s something different about this song compared to all of Clutch’s entire catalogue, for the first time in Clutch history we have female backing vocals. They are not high in the mix and on the first listen you may not even notice them but they do give that tried and tested Clutch sound a spruce up.
Clutch’s sound is pretty simple. Big riffs, solid rock drums with a strong emphasis on groove, and firey bluesman vocals. The band has been together for over thirty years without ever having a line-up change which may explain why they sound so tight and have perfected their craft. Like fine wine and cheese they have only got better with age morphing into the ultimate Dad Rock band.
‘Skeletons on Mars’ features some of guitarist Tim Sult’s trippy dub-style guitar with washes of echo and another first for Clutch: a Theremin! With two of the three singles right at the start, the record does feel a little front-loaded. Maybe it’s because I was already familiar with these songs but I feel spreading them throughout the record might have been a better choice. That is literally my only criticism of this album!
I rarely pay attention to most lyrics, I’m a guitar player and words are wasted time between riffs, breakdowns, and solos. However, I ALWAYS have time for Neil Fallon; his rich bluesy bass vocals and interesting phrasing of his words mixed with his wonderfully crazy lyrics which make sense, yet make no sense at all in equal measure. There is a great deal of humour in his lyrics, whether it’s the subject matter or just a strange throwaway line. ‘Three Golden Horns’ contains nuggets like ‘Now I see the truth, jazz music corrupts our youth’, I mean this is the band that wrote a song that is basically a recipe for crab cakes.
I know I’m not converting anyone to the religious experience Clutch is (I often see Fallon as a rock preacher just as he was portrayed in the video to ‘Burning Beard’), and if you’re reading this you’re probably a fan. But, if not, go buy this record, hell go listen to any Clutch record from 2004’ ‘Blast Tyrant’ onwards (that’s when they really perfected their sound in this writer’s humble opinion).
Available September 16th via the band’s own label Weathermaker, more information here.
Review – Colin Plumb
Photo credit – Dan Winters
UK tour dates:
Nov 11 – Glasgow, UK – 02 Academy
Nov 12 – Newcastle, UK – 02 City Hall
Nov 13 – Leeds, UK – 02 Academy
Nov 15 – Exeter, UK – Great Hall
Nov 16 – Brighton, UK – Brighton Dome
Dec 13 – Bristol, UK – 02 Academy
Dec 14 – Birmingham, UK – 02 Academy
Dec 15 – Manchester, UK – Manchester Academy
Dec 16 – Nottingham, UK – Rock City
Dec 17 – London, UK – The Roundhouse