For two decades, Maryland natives Clutch have epitomized the term “blue collar rocker.” Now, after two full years of touring in support of their last effort, Earth Rocker, the quartet is back with their eleventh full-length, Psychic Warfare, which was unleashed at the beginning of the month.
After “The Affidavit” sets the scene for Psychic Warfare, the foot-stomping lead single gets things going. Though “X-Ray Visions” is a great song overall, the fun jam session, which serves as the bridge, is what really makes it stand out. The outro of “X-Ray Visions” segues straight into the brief but fast-paced “Firebirds,” a song whose title very much sums up its musical makeup. The shuffle beat and infectious cowbell in “A Quick Death in Texas” are reminiscent of “D.C. Sound Attack!” from their last full-length, so much so in fact that the track feels like “D.C. Sound Attack!” 2.0. This certainly isn’t a bad thing, as that tune was one of the strongest from Earth Rocker. Needless to say, “A Quick Death in Texas” follows very closely in the footsteps of its 2013 counterpart. The slithering riff in “Sucker for the Witch” accounts for much of the song’s groove. “Your Love Is Incarceration,” on the other hand, brings the shuffle back while adding a quirky funk into the mix.
The eerie interlude “Doom Saloon” serves as the intro for the gloomy ¾ stomper “Our Lady of Electric Light,” undoubtedly one of the album’s highlights. The guitars go wild on the upbeat “Noble Savage,” while “Behold The Colossus” follows in a similar vein. The latter may not be as much of a powerhouse as its predecessor, but “Behold The Colossus” feels a bit more balanced. While there’s nothing especially fantastic about “Decapitation Blues,” it’s still a solid track with that signature Clutch sound. The album closer “Son of Virginia” is an epic slow-burner that wraps things up rather nicely. Clocking in at a whopping 7 minutes and 15 seconds, it’s also among the longer songs the quartet has ever written. It closes things similarly to how “The Affidavit” started them, essentially coming full circle.
Clutch has really dialed in on their latest effort. Earth Rocker had some fantastic tracks, but overall it felt hit-or-miss. This time, the quartet seems more focused, and as a result, the album’s “weak links” are stronger than they were two years ago, and the highlights are on par with where they have been in the past. Is Psychic Warfare perfect? Of course not; that said, it’s still a great release, and a must-have for anyone who considers themselves a rocker.