Earth RockerFeatured review by: UG Team, on june 06, 2014 2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: Clutch is a stoner/hard rock band from Maryland that has remained underground for much of its career, getting some degree of radio airplay while still playing in sub-1,000 person venues. Over the years, they have released many solid albums based on stoner rock or blues rock. Though their albums have been solid, they have not been incredible enough sellers to merit a jump in the rock ranks and into more fame. Continuing on this course and hoping for more widespread success, they have released "Earth Rocker" as their 10th studio album.
"Earth Rocker", like most of their other albums, is solid all the way through, though this one a little more so. There is no noticeable filler and there is a constant blues-hard rock feel throughout. The thing is, well, the songs are too solid. My point is that they all rock; they just seem to get eerily similar. Granted, most of the albums I listen to feel more differentiated the more I listen to them, the guitar tone and overall vibe are the same throughout the album. Again, it's solid and fun to listen to; it's just that they didn't need to write a whole album to get their singular point across. On the other hand, their singular point is so good, its worth listening to for a while.
Now, to describe this constant vibe. "Earth Rocker" brings catchy hooks and riffs at all points with intermittent wah solos along with odd lyrics that culminate in catchy choruses. The guitars sound distorted and constantly full; tonally alike with the exception of "Gone Cold" where the guitars go quietly soft. In addition, there is no variation in instruments except on "D.C. Sound Attack!" where a harmonica is used. Moreover, there's probably an acoustic used on "Gone Cold".
I would have to say that most of the time, the drums are as dull as the guitar is cool. Well, thats unfair. I think that this can mostly be attributed to shoddy drum mixing that make it seem so. I mean, in actuality the drumming is different across the album. It just feels similar. And on "D.C. Sound Attack!", I think that the drums are excellent. So, in reality, Im not sure.
In terms of guitar, I would have to say that a little more than the half of the songs differentiate themselves, with the others sounding similar. There are always blues based riffs present, though they are veiled in hard rock. As I said above, wah is used some of the time, usually to make an effect for texture or to be the focal point of a guitar solo. The riffs are always fun to listen to and jump to and head bang to. So, yeah, the guitar sounds similar, but it's always awesome.
Another thing sound wise is that the vocal attack matches the guitar attack well. It's not so much that the lyrics make sense; it's that the vocal melody/attack matches the guitar melody/attack in an increasingly fun way. On "Cyborg Bette", I found this to be the truest, though from an outside look, it doesnt appear that way. // 8
Lyrics: The lyrics on "Earth Rocker" are very different across the songs though the vocal delivery feels the same. That's not to say that the vocal delivery is bad, it's, like most of the things on this album, fun and seldom changing. The delivery is definitely high energy and usually with a humorous vibe. Not really humorous, but so that you know he either isn't taking himself seriously or is being fun and not serious with the importance of his lyrics. It seems that some of the lyrics are termed toward Clutch being Guitar Heroes like from the fantasy scene before each of the games. Some examples of the lyrics' diversity are below.
"I remember, When you told me, That you were built for me, And I remember, When you told me, You would never leave.
Superior programming, Superior hardware, Superior firepower, Superior hardware.
Why you gotta run so hot? Why you gotta run so hot? Why you got to run so hot?
You come home, Speaking, Speaking mean and rude. You come home, Reeking, Reeking mean of crude."
"Unto The Breach":
"Like the Gutenberg Bible, we're the moveable type. Very transient, very influential. Like the large hadron collider, the more you see the less you understand. The atmosphere's getting volatile.
Waiting on the corner for the Swiss guard to arrive...to arrive. And when they do we'll battle them and rattle them. Halberd versus mind versus mind. Once more unto the breach!"
"If you're gonna do it, Do it live on stage, or don't do it at all. If you're gonna do it, You better take it to the stage, or don't do it at all.
I will suffer no evil. My guitar will guide me through. I will suffer no evil, And this time, I want to hear it from you.
I'm an earth rocker! Everybody hear me now. I'm an earth rocker! Everybody get the message?"
"Peace keeping agents from several futures, they got a warrant out, some judge's letter.
What it is I'm going to do, I haven't done.
They got their probabilities, but I got somethin' much better.
My Rocket 88, fastest in the land. Crucial, crucial, velocity." // 8
Overall Impression: Overall, "Earth Rocker" is an energetic, fun step in the right direction for clutch. My only real criticism of the album is how many of the songs sound too similar. Other than that, this album possesses music that would be fun to see the band perform live as I want to jump and head bang to nearly every song. The guitar riffs and catchy vocals are the best part of the album. As to songs, my two favorite are "Cyborg Bette" and "D.C. Sound Attack!" The former because it has the best guitar riff on the album and some of the coolest sounding lyrics and the latter because it has the most variety, using a cowbell and harmonica to make it the absolute coolest song on the album. In conclusion, this is one hell of an album, despite my few criticisms.
UPDATE: Success! "Earth Rocker" debuted at #15 on the Billboard 200. As far as I can tell, no previous Clutch album has been in the top 90.