"Psychic Warfare"

(Weathermaker Music)

01. The Affidavit
02. X-Ray Visions
03. Firebirds
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

RATING: 9/10

CLUTCH have become an institution of rock, and not just in their home state of Maryland, where you shall be shunned if you consider yourself deep into music and don't know their name. CLUTCH have long been one of the leaders of the sludge rock revival; along with headbangers, their fan base consists of brainiacs, poets, comic hounds and literati due to their imaginative, often highbrow lyrics. Their last outing, "Earth Rocker", was an album that solidified the band's international presence. Holy Christ, what fun CLUTCH's eleventh slab, "Psychic Warfare" is. Here the band goes raw and tears it up.

Neil Fallon opens "Psychic Warfare" with a loose-ended monologue on "The Affidavit". Faint lounge music whispers behind Fallon as he takes a sworn testimony, the "conversation" concluding with his becoming gently "vexed" at album's end. Smarmy as ever, Mr. Fallon. The band rips into "X-Ray Visions", inaugurating an instant CLUTCH classic. Jean-Paul Gaster (called out by Fallon as "Gemini" on the song) snaps a tight, brisk rhythm with clattery but appealing hi-hat taps as Tim Sult (Ares) lights the song's "telekinetic dynamite". Dan Maines (Pisces) flogs his bass as Neil Fallon (Scorpio) snarls some his most brilliant libretti: "Last thing I remember, I was caught up in the ruins, I don't know who's to blame, but I…but I know I didn't do it…when every new day that passes, it keeps on getting stranger, but it doesn't really bother me, 'cuz I get off on the danger". As if being taken over by the spirits of Ronald and Nancy Reagan isn't enough lyrical gold in one song.

Jean-Paul Gaster rolls his way out of "Psychic Warfare" and tumbles into another crashing rhythm on the greasy and heavy "Firebirds". Tim Sult's riffs are both lean and massive as the song calls for them. Gaster's raps get the bigger attention on the verses, while the choruses whump loudly from Sult and Maines's amplifications. CLUTCH drops to a shuffle tempo on the funky and dusty "A Quick Death In Texas", a song carrying enough ZZ TOP (and AEROSMITH, for that matter) nudges to prompt Neil Fallon to mutter "please forgive me, Mr. Gibbons" midway. Fans of "Jam Room" will enjoy Jean-Paul Gaster's cowbell-ridden stomp and jive here.

CLUTCH keeps the sweat dripping on the quick and hilarious "Sucker for the Witch", where not even Stevie Nicks is safe as Neil Fallon jibes "it goes against my Catholic upbringing, I'll admit, but I'm a sucker for the witch." The song is too busy kicking your ass that you might miss a few of Fallon's nyuks along the way: so back this mutha up before moving on to the equally riotous, funk-bombed "Your Love is Incarceration".

The 1:13 instrumental "Doom Saloon" serves as a breath catcher but also as an extensive intro to the slow and trippy "Our Lady of Electric Light", where Tim Sult's psychedelic reverb twitters like sand swirls as prelude to a filmic desert gun down. Quentin Tarantino, consider yourself beckoned. "Noble Savage" hits the gas with fast and nasty blues licks, while the stripped and globby "Behold the Colossus" and "Decapitation Blues" march stoutly with some of CLUTCH's trustiest thunder riffs and clumping beats.

"Psychic Warfare" just might be the finest CLUTCH record of their modern era and certainly their most relentless since 2004's "Blast Tyrant". A CLUTCH album is almost always a treasure, but "Psychic Warfare" trims the fat down to an average of three minutes ("Our Lady of Electric Light" and "Behold the Colossus" knocking close to four) per song and lets force, rhythm and perspiration be their guide.

There's not so much focus here being the sludge and blues artisans that made "Robot Hive/Exodus" and "From Beale Street to Oblivion" critical hits. Instead, there's a willful pride to go old-school and pound it out. "Psychic Warfare" is badass, even for CLUTCH, and the random kicks that belong in some modern Western (in particular the twangy closer "Son of Virginia") makes it an even wilder ride. Nobody's called CLUTCH a stoner band since "The Elephant Riders", but they'll no doubt call them one of the best American bands in the land after hearing "Psychic Warfare". If they haven't already, of course.


To comment on a BLABBERMOUTH.NET story or review, you must be logged in to an active personal account on Facebook. Once you're logged in, you will be able to comment. User comments or postings do not reflect the viewpoint of BLABBERMOUTH.NET and BLABBERMOUTH.NET does not endorse, or guarantee the accuracy of, any user comment. To report spam or any abusive, obscene, defamatory, racist, homophobic or threatening comments, or anything that may violate any applicable laws, use the "Report to Facebook" and "Mark as spam" links that appear next to the comments themselves. To do so, click the downward arrow on the top-right corner of the Facebook comment (the arrow is invisible until you roll over it) and select the appropriate action. You can also send an e-mail to blabbermouthinbox(@) with pertinent details. BLABBERMOUTH.NET reserves the right to "hide" comments that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate and to "ban" users that violate the site's Terms Of Service. Hidden comments will still appear to the user and to the user's Facebook friends. If a new comment is published from a "banned" user or contains a blacklisted word, this comment will automatically have limited visibility (the "banned" user's comments will only be visible to the user and the user's Facebook friends).