There are few modern rock bands guaranteed to get you out of a funk as fast as Clutch can. Their explosive stoner blues boogies are instant mood lifters, and over 29 years and 12 albums the Maryland quartet have honed that sound to be solid in a way that’s reliable rather than predictable.
They’ve kept a toe dipped in their psych/punk roots, and even when they polish things up they retain a raw edge that sits nicely with their salt-of-the-earth demeanour – just four normal dudes who happen to play damn fine rock’n’roll.
Along the way they’ve assembled a jumbled crew of fans in hardcore metalheads, blues aficionados and anyone who just loves a good riff. And it isn’t uncommon to hear the claim that they’ve never made a bad album.
To keep fans sated for now until new material comes along in the shape of a new proper album, their label have released Weathermaker Vault Series Volume I, a mixture of re-recorded Clutch songs and covers, some that were released as digital-only singles in 2019, now all packaged up together for the first time.
Straight off the bat the energy levels are high and we’re reconnecting to Clutch’s early punk days with Passive Restraints, which first appeared on their second EP in 1992. Big, brawny and flying with furious intensity, this version finds a fitting guest in Randy Blythe of Lamb Of God, whose high-velocity growls keep things heavy.
Shawna Potter of fellow Maryland punks War On Women is a more subtle inclusion (although her soaring vocals are anything but), adding backing vocals to the uplifting closer Willie Nelson.
The rest of the re-recorded tracks serve as a reminder of the strength of Clutch’s back catalogue, whether via the spaced-out psych of Spacegrass or bluesy fan favourite Electric Worry. The cover songs included also lean towards the bluesier side: there’s the stonkingly groovy take on ZZ Top’s Precious And Grace, a supercharged version of Willie Dixon’s Chicago blues classic Evil (Is Going On), and a rollicking cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Fortunate Son that’s an absolutely perfect fit for Clutch.
They also throw in a curveball with Algo Ha Cambiado, a jaunty, trippy cover of a song by Argentinian heavy blues/psych artist Norberto Napolitano, with Neil Fallon singing in Spanish.
While you wait for Clutch’s lucky album number 13, this lively compilation will get your spirits up.