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Clutch: Psychic Warfare

Maryland rockers mix the trad and the novel

Steeped in tradition, but charged with a wilful, wayward energy all their own, Clutch’s role as rock’n’roll storytellers becomes more crucial with each album: carrying a torch, but bathing the roots of Americana in revealing new lights.

If Psychic Warfare sounds like a consolidation, it still brings Clutch’s strongest characteristics into sharper, and more irresistible narrative relief. X-Ray Visions kicks off at a full, whiskey-riled pelt that only rarely shifts down gear for the album’s duration.

Neil Fallon comes on like a lapsed preacher tearing hedonistically through the drifter-populated US backroads as the throbbing, biker riff of Firebirds bursts into a classic Clutch exultation, Sucker For The Witch grooves like it’s on hotplates and the glorious, twist-inducing thrust of Noble Savage recalls the ‘Roll up, roll up’-style service announcement of The Mob Goes Wild. For all its narrative urgency, there are moments where Psychic Warfare gathers some of that ol’ nocturnal atmosphere. *Our Lady Of Electric Light *suggests Grand Magus dumped in Louisiana and it’s the closing Son Of Virginia’s vast, searchlight riffs that reveal *Psychic Warfare *as the equivalent of The Great American Novel.

Having freelanced regularly for the Melody Maker and Kerrang!, and edited the extreme metal monthly, Terrorizer, for seven years, Jonathan is now the overseer of all the album and live reviews in Metal Hammer. Bemoans his obsolete superpower of being invisible to Routemaster bus conductors, finds men without sideburns slightly circumspect, and thinks songs that aren’t about Satan, swords or witches are a bit silly.