Clutch Robot Hive/Exodus

Clutch Robot Hive/Exodus
Horribly awkward album title aside, this seventh studio album from Maryland’s finest won’t disappoint any fans of the band. People can yammer away all they want about the differences between Clutch’s albums, but it’s always perfectly clear within seconds of the first song that it’s Clutch, and they’re doing what they do: big, straight-up hard rock, heavy on the stoner, heavy on the ’70s, and with more groove than should be humanly possible. On this one, the addition of keyboardist Mick Schauer pushes that retro feel over the top. And Jean-Paul Gaster not only has a really cool name but remains one of the best rock drummers around; without him providing the backbeat this band wouldn’t be at the top of the stoner heap. Of course, there’s the great vocal work of Neil Fallon, who as always provides lyrics that are equal part intellect and Cali-flavoured burnout, just as much about classic literature as they are about cars and women. So yeah, great stuff, but if anything it’s a bit too familiar, a sentiment legions of Clutch fanatics will argue to the grave, of course. Which is one final thing that sets Clutch apart and serves as testimony to their unique power; they have those legions of fans who hang on to every note the band jam out, their albums at this point secondary to the live shows: now that’s ’70s. (DRT)