Clutch – Book of Bad Decisions (Weathermaker Music)

Thursday, 6th September 2018
Rating: 8/10

Pioneers in the 1990’s for a mix of alternative metal and stoner rock with bluesy, funk, and southern rock nuances, Clutch have been releasing music on their own label since 2008 – with Book of Bad Decisions their 12th studio album and first since October 2015 with Psychic Warfare. What’s always been alluring regarding the group is the synthesis of diverse influences and creating a specific niche all their own – probable in large part to the unmistakable range and voice of Neil Fallon.

These 15 tracks come from a live, spontaneous, in the moment stance – it feels like there hasn’t been much enhancement to polish this material like a sparkling diamond, instead allowing the guitar tradeoffs and primal spirit of the drums, bass, and vocal performances to do the talking as if you were experiencing Clutch in locked and loaded live rehearsal mode. Neil discusses the ‘straight talk’ /public talk the common people want in “How to Shake Hands”, while the funky/brass aspects come out for the groove-fueled “In Walks Barbarella” (even throwing props to Deep Purple with a ‘space truckin’ reference). Paying homage to the veteran Black Sabbath for the first time in “A Good Fire”, the bass/guitar tandem action and swinging drum tempo also reverts to many of those classics that got the metal parade started, while southern rock swagger meets Nazareth bluesy bliss for “H.B. Is in Control”. The choices of vintage amps and vintage instruments adds to the throwback reverence for the record – you could almost imagine songs like “Hot Bottom Feeder” and the title track burning up radios in 1974 as easily as 2018.

If you were a consumer who only knew Clutch for their big 1993 hit “A Shogun Named Marcus”, you are truly missing out on a group that navigate multiple styles with class, grace, and proper respect. Book of Bad Decisions keeps the focus solely on delivering quality music – and should have no trouble receiving kudos and compliments from their fervent, dedicated followers.

Clutch official website