Sun 21st August 2005
It almost feels pointless writing a review for a band like Clutch. They've been around for over 10 years and there are three kinds of people: those who love Clutch and will buy anything they release, those who don't like Clutch, and people who have never heard of Clutch. Or 'The Ignorant Masses' as I like to call them. There are also three things you can predict about a new Clutch album: 1. It will be different from the others in some way. 2. It will still have that distinctive Clutch groove. 3. It will be very good. Luckily, 'Robot Hive/Exodus' provides on all three counts.
One of the most obvious changes they've made for this album is the inclusion of a full time organ player. This now turns what was already a band tighter than a nun's cunt into a cohesive rock machine. It's an addition that works so well that you wonder how they ever survived without it. Such self-awareness and impetus is encouraging from a band that's been around this long. In fact, it's the instruments that really make this album so good. The overall sound is a mixture of blues, rock and gospel. Gone are the predictable song structures of 'Blast Tyrant'. Tracks like 'Gullah' and '10001110101' jump about the place in an enticing style and all the instruments blend together in such a superb way that Neil Fallon's top notch vocals are almost sidelined. 'Robot Hive/Exodus' also highlights what an incredible drummer John Paul Gastor has become. His upbeat drumming gives all the songs an immense amount of drive, and makes 'Small Upsetters' their finest instrumental to date.
The songs themselves are, unsurprisingly, original and varied. The album kicks off with 'The Incomparable Mr Flannery' which carries on the Clutch tradition of having classic opening tracks. The guitar line is almost painfully funky. 'Burning Beard' has been is the first single off the album and is Clutch rocking out as only they can, it has a pounding verse riff, which just settles back to let Neil Fallon show off his nonsensical lyrics for the chorus, before diving straight back in. The aforementioned 'Gullah' and '10001110101' as well as 'Circus Maximus' show the biggest departure from the normal pure rock fury, allowing the organ to really shine through and show what a valuable asset it is. And of course in 'Mice and Gods' and 'Never Be Moved' we see the traditional catchy verses and big choruses that make Clutch such a great live band. And don't even get me started on 'Gravel Road'. If you ever thought that traditional rhythm and blues was something Clutch wouldn't go near, then check this song out. They do it just because they can. And I can't wait until they do it again.
So whether this review makes you want to get the album or not, at least you can rest safe in the knowledge that Clutch have done exactly what any fan would expect of them. Again.