September 4, 2018 Clutch – Book of Bad Decisions (Album Review)
Maryland based Rock-n-Roll squad Clutch are set to release their unprecedented twelfth studio album, Book of Bad Decisions, on their label Weathermaker Music, Friday, September 7, 2018. One of the loudest bands to ever plug into an amp, the longstanding core of Clutch came together back in 1991 when Guitarist Tim Sult, Bassist Dan Maines, and Drummer Jean-Paul Guster hired incomparable Vocalist/Guitarist Neil Fallon, a lineup which remains tight to this day. Releasing the debut LP, 1993’s Transnational Speedway League, Clutch quickly developed a devout following thanks to the band’s crossbreed mix of Hard Rock/Stoner Rock/Blues Rock/Funk Metal. Additionally, Clutch’s music presents a highly live sound, conceived upon loud, blaring vocals, raw guitar riffs, trembling bass, and clobbering drums.
A blue-collar band, Clutch has worked tirelessly, releasing album after album to critical acclaim, including 2001’s Pure Rock Fury which climbed to No. 5 on the Billboard Top Heatseekers Chart. Proving consistency, they continued to rock the charts, as 2013’s Earth Rocker debuted at No. 15 on the Billboard Top 200 Chart and, the band’s last studio album, 2015’s Psychic Warfare, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Rock Albums Chart.
As 2018 marks twenty-seven years of no-frills, high energy, balls to the wall Rock-n-Roll, it is safe to say, whether on an album, or performing in front of a packed house, Clutch remain a force to be reckoned with. Once again cranking it up to eleven to write the Book of Bad Decisions, Clutch entered Nashville, Tennessee based Sputnik Sound studio, working alongside Grammy Award winning Producer Vance Powell (Jack White, The Dead Weather). That in mind, for longtime fans of Clutch, Book of Bad Decisions will read as another spectrum of classic Clutch, seeing the band sound as good as ever.
Hard-hitting, Book of Bad Decisions opens up via a boisterous “Gimme the Keys,” spreading Clutch’s signature live feel, wrapped in distorted and melodic riffs. Fighting for the cause, “Spirit of ’76” sings of a youthful nation as the title-track, “Book of Bad Decisions,” encompasses muddy toned bass licks and a steady paced groove, similar to Rival Sons. Desiring to bring the truth, on “How to Shake Hands,” Fallon declares: “I’m gonna be president,” promising to stick the face of Jimi Hendrix on the twenty dollar bill.
Plugging the 1968 Sci-Fi classic, Barbarella, Clutch switch gears, bringing in the horn section on the ’80s grooved “In Walks Barbarella,” a twist that works well for the band. Next, Clutch go for an early Rock-n-Roll era sound on “Vision Quest,” channeling the piano of Jerry Lee Lewis, before “Weird Times,” the band’s ode to “Emily Dickinson,” and the Blues rocker “Sonic Counselor.” Dirty and gritty, “Ghoul Wrangler” gives a Modern Rock edge, “H.B. Is in Control” is angry and stomping, and “Hot Bottom Feeder” offers some Led Zeppelin quality sounds and fuzzy toned effects. On “Paper & Strife,” Clutch provide a harmony likely to shake-up a live audience and close via the grim opening notes of the prophetic jam “Lorelei.”
Holding nothing back, Clutch’s Book of Bad Decisions marks a fine return for this seasoned combination of hardened rockers. Built upon fifteen brand new tracks, Book of Bad Decisions showcases Clutch as a band consistently performing at a high level, doing nothing less than rock hard. Perfect execution, listeners will revel in Sult’s tenacious guitar work, Maines’ deafening bass, Gaster’s crashing percussive nature, and it would be a travesty of justice not to praise how boldly Fallon sings for his life, never tiring out.
If you are a fan of Clutch, make sure you check out the band’s latest installment as CrypticRock gives Book of Bad Decisions a solid 4 out of 5 stars.