Sound — 10
This album was released in 2004 after the release of the "Blast Tyrant" studio album. It captures the band playing most the songs from that album, plus many from their earlier works. The lineup here is the classic quartet (Neil Fallon on vocals and guitar, Jean Paul Gaster on drums, Dan Maines on bass and Tim Sult on lead guitar) with the addition of Mick Schauer on keyboards. It is also a double album with a total of 29 tracks, providing you with more that two hours of greatly performed music.
Neil's singing and performing skills are superb and every single live video of Clutch is there to prove it. He lifts all the frontman work on his own shoulders (with the occasional Paul Gaster chipping in) and still doing it for more than 20 years. Even when he is singing on the same pentatonic scales that are used in every classic rock and/or blues song, he does it with his own unique way and style. This way, he is presenting you with something new and fresh that is familiar at the same time and not weird sounding.
The overall sound, mixing and production is great. Neither the vocals, nor the instruments sound like they have been overdubbed later in the studio, something that gives a more genuine and raw impression which I very much prefer over the "perfect sound" live albums.
Lyrics — 10
Since it is a live album, the lyrics of the songs should really be judged on their respective studio albums. Nevertheless, it would be a shame to omit mentioning that Neil Fallon is one of the greatest lyricists of his time. Inspired by other great artists's words (Ovid, Johnny Cash, Philip K. Dick, Paul Auster, etc) he is at the same time a dark southern storyteller, a social critic and a science fiction writer. It is even a fun game to try and interpret the lyrics of Clutch songs. They simultaneously include many exquisite references,metaphors, humor and twists of everyday phrases, building a general euphoric and wise sense on the listener.
Overall Impression — 9
There are many Clutch fans that only love the post '00s era and I might be one of them. The ultimately pleasant surprise for all of them would be that the songs of the early albums are performed here with a completely new sound, voice and orchestration that transforms them into the "new" Clutch sound. The way Neil's voice has matured presents the songs into a whole new way that will please both the "early works" fans and the "post '00s" fans. I'd say it's one of the greatest rock live albums I've ever came across. Neil's matured voice and the addition of keyboards takes the whole band to another level, leading them to the absolutely stunning "Robot Hive / Exodus" album that followed the next year.
The one and only downbeat of this live album would be the "not as thrilling as the album" version of "The Regulator."