Clutch Psychic Warfare album review by Chad Nicefield from the band Wilson
I remember the first time I heard Clutch. I vividly recall myself getting lost as a 14 year old shithead, who at the time was DEEP into the whole ‘NuMetal’ thing, but the lyrical paintings in the song from Clutch’s self-titled record ‘Escape From The Prison Planet’ had me asking myself, “what the fuck is THIS guy talking about?” As I sunk my brain into the sound of what felt like a Rock N Roll fury inside of my ear holes, it occurred to me at that moment that I had just found one of my all-time favorite bands.
“If It Ain’t Broke Don’t Fix It!” that’s what I think this latest record should be called, with maybe an annex of “…but maybe lower the mother fucker and slap a spoiler on the back just to let the people know you still don’t fuck around!” But, hey Psychic Warfare works too! And is probably more of a Clutch appropriate title. I preordered the record, digitally, it was probably my fourth ever ITunes purchase in my life…WILSON was on tour and I knew this was going to be my “drive shift” anthem album, because ALL Clutch records are. When I got my email notification that my Clutch record was available in its entirety I screamed from the back of the van, “turn whatever this shit is off and put on THIS shit!” and the dudes happily obliged.
Opening the record with a short spoken intro can be very cringe worthy if it’s not done right, but Clutch does it right…no bullshit, right off the bone they “start at the beginning” the right way! An explosion of Jean Paul Gaster’s drums and Tim Sult’s guitar smacks you right in the kisser and leads way for the man of mystery, Mr. Neil Fucking Fallon, to step right thru the front door and punch you in the dick tip. The first actual song which is also the first single from Psychic Warfare ‘X-Ray Visions’ beats you up for almost four straight minutes in all of Clutch’s familiarity, leaving you on the floor screaming “thank you sir, may I have another”. They found a superb chemistry between the band and their producer, engineer, and mixer Machine. Machine and the guys really “get each other” and it’s obvious that they are a match made in the underside of rock and roll’s nutsack. It’s mastering tricks like the transition from ‘X-Ray Visions’ into the next track ‘Firebirds’ that make you feel like you are in the room with Clutch at Machine’s Studio in Texas and they are playing live just for you. The production and tones are so smooth and tasty in this song. It literally feels like you are skitchin’ a ride on the back of a steam powered locomotive. The whole record does really. It’s dangerous, sketchy, dirty and badass all rolled into 40 minutes. I literally cannot give Machine enough praise for the sonic thrust he gives each Clutch records he has done (Earth Rocker, Psychic Warfare, and Blast Tyrant)
One of my favorite stand out tracks is ‘A Quick Death In Texas’. Tim’s guitar grooves tightened by Dan Maines nasty bass tone make it seem so easy for Neil to paint the danger down there in the southern U S of A. And the way, sonically and technically the drums sound here are insane. Another hugely notable track is ‘Our Lady of Electric Light’. This is step into another world for the band, though they have touched this area plenty of times in the past (think ‘Gone Cold’ from Earth Rocker), on this one Tim’s tones and writing tell a story that feels equally measured to Fallon’s lyrical journeys. It’s got Class A written all over it.
Wrapping up the 12 song piece with the swampy, spooky and engaging ‘Son of Virginia’ was the perfect place holder…for what will inevitably be record number 12 for Clutch. Who knows when it will come, but all Clutch fans know it WILL come. And we once again, will not be ready for what our masters shall deliver. It feels familiar, it may sound like it’s yours, but it will never be yours. It will always be OURS, and that’s what a Clutch fan truly knows. And to quote the wordsmith himself “truly we are living in an age of wonder.”