Omnipresent, omni-busy and laudably consistent, Clutch have always seemed slightly more devoted to the whole process of making music than everyone else. Either touring like madmen or blazing away at their Maryland HQ with another album in their sights, the band’s last three decades have been a model of rock’n’roll purity and huge, life affirming tunes.
As a result, it comes as no surprise whatsoever that Sunrise On Slaughter Beach is another joyous conflagration of riffs, grooves and bittersweet wit. This is, after all, what Clutch do. Nine songs deep and noticeably sharper and snappier than 2018’s Book Of Bad Decisions, Clutch’s 13th album offers a snapshot of the band at their most intense and energetic: almost certainly the result of being stuck at home and denied the opportunity to do what comes naturally.
Widely showcased on tour this year, opener Red Alert (Boss Metal Zone) is a gritty, full-pelt return to undiluted rock fury. Done and dusted in under three minutes, it’s the most punk thing Clutch have done in years. Even more inspired is We Strive For Excellence: a jittery stream of Neil Fallon aphorisms tied to some of the simplest and most effective riffing Clutch have written in an age. When the bearded frontman bellows ‘Yes we do!’ with absolute, gruff conviction, it’s impossible to disagree.
On Skeletons On Mars, Clutch get their scorched earth space rock on, with acid rock swirls and a thumping, post-Hawkwind pulse. On the album’s magnificent closer Jackhammer Our Names, they skilfully evoke the dusty drama of the Old West with a slow-motion groove that rolls like thunder and a sublime Neil Fallon vocal that oozes world weariness. Best of all, Mercy Brown twinkles and shuffles, armed with a giant and unexpected chorus hook, and all the trippy trimmings. The sun rises. Clutch still rock the most. You may go about your business.
Sunrise On Slaughter Beach is due September 16 via Weathermaker Music