Published Sep 07, 2018This really needs to be said more, but Clutch are one of the best rock acts of the modern era. What sets them apart is their absolute refusal to buy into any of the music industry's glittery trappings or nostalgia. Clutch play real rock for real rock fans and made 2004's Blast Tyrant, 2007's From Beale Street to Oblivion and 2015's Psychic Warfare to prove it.
Book of Bad Decisions might surpass them all. Neil Fallon's lyrics have always trod the line between ZZ Top and beat poetry, but here they just go. "We ran for hours, hours grew into years, stalked by the fury of John Brown's eyes" ("Gimme the Keys") gives some idea of what is to follow. Then there's "In Walks Barbarella," with its war cry of "weaponized funk!" Apparently, not everything has to be serious. The horn section is just icing on the cake.
There's over a century of musical influence on display, from kitchen bluegrass (and crab cake recipes) of "Hot Bottom Feeder" to the meandering yarn of "Lorelei," a song that Josh Homme probably wishes he had written. "Vision Quest" and the title track bring outlaw biker vibes, but the standout cut has to be "Sprit of '76." It's a love letter both to that year and the '90s generator rock scene. Groovy.
Clutch really can't mess up. They always know where to let the riffs carry, and where to mix things up. They balance killer musicianship and verbal panache with a bar-band mindset. Album of the year? Possibly, but that's just business as usual for Maryland's finest. (Weathermaker)