RIYLCorrosion of Conformity
Tracklist01. Motherless Child
02. Struck Down
03. 50,000 Unstoppable Watts
04. Abraham Lincoln
06. The Amazing Kreskin
08. Let a Poor Man Be
10. Algo Ha Cambiado
11. Sleestak Lightning
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“Please allow me to adjust my pants, so that I may dance the good time dance.” For anyone that is a fan of Clutch, those are words that will forever echo through your skulls. The lyrics come from Clutch’s 2004 heavy blues-rock influenced, Blast Tyrant Blast Tyrant and marked the beginning of Clutch’s journey down the trails of blues intoxicated recordings, gaining a bit more mainstream success while doing so. However, don’t think these guys have forgotten their roots! Releasing their ninth studio album, Strange Cousins From The West, these guys have incorporated the whiskey drenched sing-a-longs we have been hearing within the last several years all while integrating classic sludged-out riffs fans first fell in love with.
Strange Cousins From The West is the first studio album to be released on the band’s own label, Weathermaker Music. Clutch, with the help of J. Robbins, pretty much had the reins on the production of the album, making the whole experience of the recording more personal. You can really tell that Clutch poured their heart and soul into this record. Strange Cousins… is a call to arms for all those who thought they lost faith in the band which, let's be honest, is silly to ever think in the first place. Right out the door “Motherless Child” throws a familiar sounding groove in our face. Not a rip-off of any of their other sounds, but familiar in the way that Clutch really want us to know they are taking us on a horse and buggy ride down the back roads they first walked upon. At first, the track might seem like it is missing something. Well it is; organist Mick Schauer (who played on both Robot Hive/Exodus and From Beale Street To Oblivion), is no longer playing with the band giving “Motherless Child,” along with the rest of the album, the familiar four man rock assault and blues oriented riffs, a combination we are used to from Clutch. Continuing on the complementing stripped-down sound the gentlemen have returned to is “Struck Down” and “Let A Poor Man Be”. Guitarist Tim Sult makes it blatantly apparent that he’s not going to let being in a four-piece interrupt his showcasing abilities. Playing deep-seated, fundamental riffs and continuing the steady flow of solo work, Sult is definitely on top of his game on the above-mentioned tracks.
“50,000 Unstoppable Watts”, the first single off of the album, is an unambiguous high point of the album. The track sounds like it could be something off the band's 1998 release The Elephant Riders. It really has that feel good sound the band is known for dishing out, providing classic Clutch groove and beer clanking good times. For anyone that knows a thing or two about this band, they know that vocalist Neil Fallon always paints an image with his lyrics all while adding a subtle hint of humor. Things have not changed in that department. Track four, "Abraham Lincoln,” starts off with drummer Jean-Paul Gaster playing the “funeral beat” on his snare, then that beat is joined by Fallon and Sult’s doom and gloom guitar work. Depressing as it may sound, Fallon then comes in with his lyrics about Lincoln’s assassination, nevertheless the man knows how to make any subject matter, depressing or boring, sound like the greatest thing ever. His vocals have to be one of the most distinctive sounding of their kind, always adding a bit of flare to the lyrical content. “Abraham Lincoln” really makes you wonder if Fallon and the rest of the band have a slight infatuation with our 16th president due to this being the second song dealing with Lincoln, the first being “I Have the Body of John Wilkes Booth” off of their self-titled album.
The album is crazed with some unforgettable hooks; “Minotaur” is a perfect example of this. The music is discreet yet commanding, and the bridge is well-built into a catchy basic lead riff. “Witchdoctor” has a very similar structure and is very easy to bob your head to. The track most filled with infectious grooves, however, is a cover, “Algo Ha Cambiado” which in Spanish means, “something has changed” and is originally done by Argentina based blues-metal band, Pappo’s Blues. Fallon belts out the song in its native tongue and surprisingly enough sounds extremely comfortable doing so.
Clutch managed to grow into a rock band that we as rock fans can be proud of. Gaining ground and building a fan base off of playing live shows has really been the backbone of this band. Over and over again they manage to produce an album the fans will embrace with open arms. I have said time and again that the rock empire as we know it is slowly crumbling down. The airwaves leave us asking many questions and quite frankly (and I know I don’t speak only for myself on this) it leaves me sick to my stomach. I’m not sure how much more of this fake anger-rock bullshit we as rock fans can, or should for that matter, put up with. However, I will tell you this… Clutch is the answer. But then again, why should we share such an amazing band with all the meatheads in the gym? Let's keep Clutch to ourselves and let them “bang” Theory of a Deadman on their iPod while staring at their conceited selves in the mirror.