2nd October 2015 – Weathermaker Music
01. The Affidavit
02. X-Ray Visions
04. A Quick Death in Texas
05. Sucker for the Witch
06. Your Love Is Incarceration
07. Doom Saloon
08. Our Lady of Electric Light
09. Noble Savage
10. Behold the Colossus
11. Decapitation Blues
12. Son of Virginia
The world is built on a series of constants. Every couple of years, you can be sure that a politician will be caught in a lie, a professional sportsman will be shown to have more money than sense, and an individual will become incredibly famous for no discernible reason at all. We are now at a point where we can add to that somewhat inauspicious list the fact that Clutch will release an album that fucking jams.
Psychic Warfare is the eleventh album in twenty-two years from the Maryland quartet. 2013′s Earth Rocker was something of a return to form, and Psychic Warfare adds another eleven songs to their already formidable repertoire of no-nonsense, feel-good, Americana-drenched hard rocking songs.
Vocalist Neil Fallon’s opening couplet, in first track proper “X-Ray Visions” perfectly captures the mood of Psychic Warfare – “First thing that I did was buy a pack of smokes / check into a motel and consult my horoscope”. His patented, faintly manic delivery also lends his finely crafted lyrics on everyday subjects an air of the fantastical or mythological, which is a rare feat indeed.
The best music is always greater than the sum of its parts, and Psychic Warfare is another masterclass in Clutch’s ruthless and devastatingly effective economy. Not only that, but the almost unrelentingly high quality of the material confounds all normal expectations. In Fallon’s own words during stomper “Noble Savage“, Clutch are “an unapologetic lifer for rock n’ roll” - and for that we should truly be grateful. Somehow, Clutch manage to retread basically the same ground, but without the formula becoming tired or stale.
Psychic Warfare‘s high point is probably the pairing of mid-album tracks “Quick Death In Texas” and “Sucker For The Witch“. The former carries a thoroughly infectious and sleazy groove, with its ZZ Top influences potentially acknowledged with a wry “Please forgive me, Mr Gibbons” aside. The latter sees Clutch in full flight, propelled by Dan Maines’ bass and delivering another enormous chorus with ‘instant classic’ stamped all over it. Elsewhere, Clutch successfully dial down the tempo with “Our Lady of Electric Light” and the positively gargantuan closing track “Son of Virginia“.
In a world where everyone and their cat seems to be a bedroom producer, lavishing their tracks with many layers of bells and whistles, there’s something incredibly refreshing about a collection of songs that can be faithfully recreated by four guys and their instruments. Clutch most certainly are not doing anything even remotely new, but they do it with such unwavering quality and barely concealed joy that, once bitten by the bug, its hard not to see them as anything other than essential listening.
Psychic Warfare is a timely reminder that even fans of the most challenging, cutting edge music should find the time to appreciate the virtue of finely honed riffs, collected into memorable songs and played with considerable deftness and passion. Clutch probably aren’t going to change the world, they probably don’t have anything all that profound or thought-provoking to say – but they will show you one hell of a good time, and sometimes that’s exactly what the (witch) doctor ordered.