There are few bands who have been as consistent and individualistic as CLUTCH over the last decade. Kicking off their career with the novelty hit, "A Shogun Named Marcus", the band could have easily disappeared down the major label black hole when they failed to deliver more radio-friendly fodder after that. Rather, the band followed a rugged, unique musical journey, bypassing mainstream success in favor of a string of powerful and eclectic albums, and building a devoted following through constant live work instead of flashy marketing gimmicks.
Their last studio album, 2001's "Pure Rock Fury", fully lived up to its name. Their sixth and newest offering, "Blast Tyrant", continues the band's hot streak with a steamy, often sizzling mix of funky, Seventies grooves, crunching riffs, eerie instrumental passages, and vocalist Neil Fallon's gravelly, eccentric, and frequently clever lyrical puzzles, which have been compared to those of Frank Zappa.
According to Fallon, "Blast Tyrant" has a vague theme running through it, dealing the adventures of a "conscientious objector" named Worm Drink as he is pursued by the villainous Blast Tyrant and his ship, the Swollen Goat. Although it's not a concept album per se, the disc is constructed with little to no space between the songs, giving the feel of a unified whole. Even this goes against standard record company policy these days, as most albums (pop and rock) feature two or three singles at best and stuff the rest of the CD with below-average filler. CLUTCH defies this, weaving their songs together to create atmosphere and a complete listening experience.
Pounding rockers like "Profits Of Doom" and "The Mob Goes Wild" sit comfortably alongside more experimental tracks like the haunting, melodic "Ghost" and the seagoing instrumental closer, "WYSIWYG". CLUTCH manages the difficult task of sounding both minimalist and epic at the same time, their alternately sinister and heavy sound a perfect backdrop to Fallon's mythic lyrical tales, which reference everything from U2 to the cliffs of Dover to Bush lackey Condoleeza Rice.
CLUTCH's weird sound may not appeal to everyone, and a certain sameness does set in over the middle section of the disc. But like them or not, the band deserves respect for forging their own identity and staying true to it, while still moving forward musically and skipping the politics of the music biz in the process. And if you like CLUTCH, good for you, because "Blast Tyrant" is a terrific blast of inimitable heavy rock.