CLUTCH has been kings of the metal underground for years by this point — on the strength of such past classic as "The Elephant Riders" and "Pure Rock Fury".
But with their latest release, "From Beale Street to Oblivion", the quintet — which includes oft-bearded singer Neil Fallon, guitarist Tim Sult, bassist Dan Maines, drummer Jean-Paul Gaster, and organist Mick Schauer — is threatening to infiltrate the mainstream full-on.
And it's not that the group has softened their sound at all, it's just that it's arguably the band's strongest album from front to back.
Produced by Joe Barresi (who has worked with KYUSS, TOOL, MELVINS, QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, etc.), the 12-track album touches upon a myriad of hard rock styles — stoner rock, southern rock, blues metal, and plenty of tasty jams.
"This is probably the most 'live' album we have recorded," enthuses Fallon about "Beale Street".
"We went out for a few weeks, and played the music on the road. So, when we went into the studio, all of us knew exactly what was going to happen — a first for CLUTCH. I don't know why we haven't done it this way all along; it's so much easier.
"We also recorded the basic tracks directly onto tape. Nothing digital in there at all. We haven't done that since 'The Elephant Riders'. And this record has a few more bluesy elements than has been the case in the past, but nothing so blatant that it could be called alien to what we do."
One of rock's most hard-working live bands, CLUTCH will be supporting the March 27 release of the album (which is their third for the DRT label) with a world tour — including U.S., European, and Australian dates, as well as an appearance at the mammoth Bonnaroo Festival on June 14.
"Musically, we've become much more of a rock 'n' roll band now, as opposed to being a metal or hardcore one," says Fallon. "Our style is riff-oriented, with a swing. It's never been a calculated move; we just followed our instinct, and that is leading us closer to those bands to whom we listened in our childhood. Bands which are now termed as 'classic rock.'"
"From Beale Street to Oblivion" track listing:
01. You Can't Stop Progress (2:40)
02. Power Player (3:05)
03. The Devil & Me (3:55)
04. White's Ferry (5:23)
05. Child of the City (3:51)
06. Electric Worry (5:15)
07. One Eye Dollar (1:24)
08. Rapture of Riddley Walker (4:08)
09. When Vegans Attack (4:54)
10. Opossum Minister (4:27)
11. Black Umbrella (4:05)
12. Mr. Shiny Cadillackness (5:11)