Clutch – Blast Tyrant Review

Originally written by Ian Dreilinger.

It’s been over a decade since Clutch first made their way into the stoner rock/metal scene, and it’s been an inconsistent career, to say the least. There have been some great records and some not so great records, and in no particular order. It was The Elephant Riders that first got me into the group, after which I made my way through their back catalogue and anticipated future releases. Having heard everything they’ve done until now, I can easily say that Blast Tyrant is probably my favorite. It’s not far removed from past releases, but they have a formula that works here, from the individual songs to the order in which they run. Everything seems well planned out, and it’s a success. While initially catchy and fun to listen to, Blast Tyrant also has plenty of staying power; it’s been in constant rotation for the past few weeks and promises to continue to get much attention.

Clutch have done the most important thing in making their latest album memorable. While not every song is spectacular, they placed the best towards the beginning and at the end, with some gems sprinkled throughout the middle as well. It starts well and ends well, succeeding in drawing the listener in and leaving him (or her) on a high note, definitely increasing the desire for repeat listens. Opener “Mercury” takes over a third of its brief three-minute duration before the vocals kick in, but it’s no worse for this fact. The instrumentation here, and throughout the album, is completely wonderful, ranging from laid back and carefree to aggressive to moody. While nothing is excessively complex, the musicianship is still impressive because they’ve managed to create interesting songs and execute them exactly as they should be.

Possibly the best of the standout tracks are the last two on this fifteen-song album. “La Curandera” is a rather standard stoner rock anthem starting with a monster riff and segueing into vocals that reside somewhere between shouting and singing to top a more subtle version of the opening riff. The song really kicks into gear, however, around the two-minute mark. There begins a section heavily rooted in 70’s rock with some nice rock organ and what sounds like Fender Rhodes keyboard effects. Concluding the album is the instrumental “English Pounds.” It’s laid back and completely groove oriented, keeping essentially the same base structure throughout but turning into something of a jam session. The attention to dynamics is very nice and by the end, it’s hard not to want to hear Blast Tyrant again.

Heck, even the production is top notch. The guitar manages to be crisp but still have power and groove, as it should in this genre. The bass is prevalent but not overbearing, keeping the groove alive at all times without getting annoying. The nicest surprise was the subtle use of keyboards throughout the album. They add a nice atmosphere to many of the songs and are tastefully used, in other words, kept quiet so as not to lead the songs but kept evident to ensure the enjoyment of their presence. The drumming is also tasteful. When quiet is needed, they’re quiet. And likewise, when they should be loud, loud they are.

This is a very well done album by a band that’s made some great records and some bad. I can’t really say anything but to wholeheartedly recommend this album to anyone remotely interested in Clutch or to stoner rock in general. Or hell, check it out even if you’ve never heard the band or anything that you like in the genre. I’m not stoned and Blast Tyrant has still been kicking my ass.

Posted by Old Guard

The retired elite of LastRites/MetalReview.

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