Guitarist Tim Sult said of Earth Rocker, “It might be the best Clutch album that has ever existed.” Considering the groovemasters’ track record over the last couple of decades, those are some mighty strong words. But it’s tough to disagree. Drawing heavy inspiration from recent tours with Mötorhead and Thin Lizzy, drummer Jean-Paul Gaster and crew are at their fiery best here. Vocalist Neil Fallon oozes the passion and silver-tongued charm of a fire-and-brimstone preacher on the title track, Sult unleashes scores of timeless Clutch riffs (with a highlight being the irresistible fervor of “Unto the Breach”), and bassist Dan Maines lays down a gritty yet silky tone on tracks like “Crucial Velocity” and “Mr. Freedom.” Through it all, Gaster is the modern zenith of groove and feel, which he serves up in a number of different ways. Shuffles are the order of the day on “Book, Saddle and Go” and “Cyborg Bette”; “Gone Cold” features delicate brushes; “The Wolfman Kindly Requests…” benefits from some fantastic hi-hat and ride work; and the cowbell interplay of “D.C. Sound Attack” is a capstone to one of the best songs of an already loaded catalogue. In fact, every song here has its own rhythmic or melodic hallmark, making Earth Rocker is a surefire future classic.
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