It’s hard to believe that the Maryland four had been together for 20 years and that Earth Rocker is the 10th studio album. This is the first studio album for four years but they haven’t been complacent in that time with DVDs and re-releases filling their time.
It’s hard to label Clutch, they just don’t want to be pigeonholed. Possible genres are Blues Rock, Stoner and Doom but Earth Rocker is a return to Hard Rock and like all good hard Rock this album has blues overtones.
With time on the road with the likes of Motorhead and Thin Lizzy we can expect heavy riffs and strong hooks throughout this much awaited song storm. Clutch are also one of those bands that are instantly recognisable after only listening to only a few bars and this album is no different.
The title track ‘Earth Rocker’ kicks things off and what a kick! The opening lyrics “What’s this about limits, Sorry I don’t have none” could quite easily be the motto for the whole album (and their live shows). I can certainly see this song as a fans favourite and a great addition to their live shows as it screams for audience participation as the chorus asks “and this time I want to hear it from you’ and you just can’t help but sing along to the Scooby-Doo scary villain laughter ‘BLOOOAHHH’.
The next track doesn’t let off, the drumming of Jean-Paul Gaster setting the tone for a full scale pedal to the metal classic, ‘Crucial Velocity’. The chorus hooks you in and you once again find yourself immersed in the lyrics and singing along ‘My Rocket 88 fastest in the land’ may refer to an old Ike Turner tune believed to be one of the first recordings of a distorted guitar.
Next is ‘Mr Freedom’ which allows guitarist Tim Sult to show off with exactly what he has learned from the touring he’s done with some of the heaviest and tuneful riffs of all time. It’s rubbed off because the riff here is precise and rhythmic with a rapid solo. The song also shows Neil Fallon’s incredible vocals which are loud and dominant.
‘D.C. Sound Attack’ follows which is more akin to the rock blues tracks that we have got used to from the previous two albums. Neil starts the song off by playing harmonica to this very cadenced song further emphasised by Gastor’s drumming skills even down to the cow bell drum solo.
‘Gone Cold’ is the slowest song on the album. This reminds me of ‘The Regulator’ from Blast Tyrant album really showing off the versatility of talent this band have. Neil’s haunting vocals are most prominent on this song and the lyrics on the chorus ‘My heart is gone, I gone cold’ have a multitude of interpretations.
Things then speed up a little with ‘The Face’ (which apparently has nothing to do with a quarter of the A team). Although I would not class this song as fast (a typical 95ish beats per minute) the track features massive guitar sounds, like the lyrics ‘1000 Les Pauls burning in a field’ this song screams at you and it must be played at extreme volume.
‘Book, Saddle, & Go’ is next up and starts with some great tom-tom rolls by Gaster which go on to feature throughout the song. With their seemingly non-stop touring over the last four years you can’t but interpret this song as a road song written about the endless hotel rooms and leaving the next day, even if it does have a hint of the Wild West in the lyrics.
‘Cyborg Bette’ is a song diehard fans may have heard before as it has been played on recent tours. The lyrics are tongue-in-cheek and tell the story of having an android girlfriend. However there is nothing lost in the soulful and catchy song, this one has had me banging the steering wheel on those long road trips.
‘Oh Isabella’ is the longest song on the album and, if there is such a thing, the closest to what you would call a traditional Clutch song. With a hook so big Abu Hamza would drool with envy and the rhythm section’s no slouch on this track either building to a great finish again featuring Sult’s seemingly simplistic guitar soundscapes.
Last up is ‘The Wolf Man Kindly Requests…’ which is an exceptional finish to an exceptional album. Dan Maines Bass line on this song is strong throughout and matches Fallon’s vocals creating an outro to the whole long player. Featuring the lyrics ‘Party’s over and you all got to go’ I can see this as a show stopper in the future.
This Clutch album is all killer, not giving you time to catch your breath and easily a future classic. Earth Rocker brings together the best parts of the previous albums and throws it in your face with a good dose of attitude mixed in. With more hooks than an angler’s tackle box I for one can’t wait until they tour the UK again, so I can see them perform these song live and get the full force of this astonishing band, and if it’s like any of the previous shows they’ve done in this country, we are in for a real treat.