I have a confession to make: I’m not a super-huge Clutch fan. Mind you, I think I’ve seen ‘em three of the last four times they played here—but only because they were touring with Wino, Motorhead and Orange Goblin, respectively. That said, I always stuck around for the headlining act, and I do like their music…I just don’t worship the ground Neil Fallon walks on, put it that way.
In fact, I think the only other Clutch albums I own are their self-titled, which I quite enjoy, and From Beale Street to Oblivion, which sounded pretty decent at the time, but hasn’t had much staying power. Actually, I mighta picked up another Clutch CD along the way—Pure Rock Fury, perhaps?—but the point I’m trying to make is that this review isn’t going to put Clutch on a pedestal or take a deep dive into their back catalogue; I’m simply judging their new album on its own merits.
With all that said, Psychic Warfare is well worth a listen in its own right. It kicks off at a pretty decent clip, with “X-Ray Visions” launching into some mid-tempo, southern-style grooves that wouldn’t sound outta place on the last couple Orange Goblins. In a typically Fallonesque twist, he introduces the band members as signs of the Zodiac just past the mid-way mark. “Firebirds” has a bit of a slower shuffle, but the riffs here are pure stoner rock fuzz.
“A Quick Death in Texas” is a classic Clutch song title, while musically it more closely resembles the heavy blues rock feel of Beale Street. Hell, speaking of Texas, there’s a bit of a ZZ Top feel here—Neil even name-checks Billy Gibbons. When it comes to only-from-Fallon song titles, “Sucker for the Witch” combines a big arena-rock chorus with a winding, bluesy verse, while “Your Love is Incarceration” kinda apes that Eagles riff from “Life in the Fast Lane.”
“Doom Saloon” is sufficiently downtrodden, although it’s merely an interlude leading into the spaghetti-western country blues of “Our Lady of Electric Light.” “Noble Savage” might be the closest thing to AC/DC you’ll hear on a large label this year, while “Decapitation Blues” is a little more riff-rock than pure blues…not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Bottom line, this is a pretty solid heavy-rock record, which fans of stoner, blues and 70’s-style riffs will enjoy—even if you’re not a super-huge Clutch fan.