By Dave Pehling
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — With over a quarter century of making their signature style of heavy rock under its collective belt, Maryland-based juggernaut Clutch has established itself as a rare modern band that captures the relentless swing and ferocious groove that elevated Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath to greatness. Maintaining a largely static line-up throughout their history, drummer Jean-Paul Gaster and bassist Dan Maines have always powered the endlessly inventive riffology of guitarist Tim Sult and the fiery wordplay of lead singer Neil Fallon (organ player Mick Schauer joined the group for a couple of albums during the 2000s).
The underground hit “Spacegrass,” from Clutch’s eponymous 1995 sophomore album, got the band pegged with the stoner-rock tag, but the quartet refused to be pigeonholed by easy categorization. Freely mixing elements of metal, hardcore, hip hop, funk and blues, the band gradually moved from it’s early punk roots to forge a swampy, southern-tinged brand of heavy-duty rock that remains truly unique.
After delving deeper into blues grit on 2007’s From Beale Street to Oblivion and its follow-up Strange Cousins From the West, the group returned to pugilistic form with the hard-hitting songs heard on its 2013 release for their own Weathermaker imprint, Earth Rocker. Packed with pulverizing uptempo tracks like “Unto the Breach” and “Crucial Velocity,” the effort stood as one of the band’s best yet. The follow-up, 2015’s Psychic Warfare looked to science fiction author Philip K. Dick for lyrical inspiration, with Fallon delivering his usual Pentecostal fury over the band’s propulsive instrumental grooves.
Clutch showed it remains one of the most consistently creative riff factories in heavy music with their latest effort, this year’s brutally swinging Book of Bad Decisions. Marking the band’s first collaboration with Nashville-based producer Vance Powell (Jack White, Chris Stapleton, blues great Buddy Guy), the new album increases the funk quotient with the horn-powered blast of “Electric Barbarella” and the crab cake recipe transformed into a song, “Hot Bottom Feeder.” Clutch plays new tunes and old favorites for its Bay Area fans Thursday night, returning to the Regency Ballroom with support from Atlanta-based alt-metal veterans Sevendust and blues-influenced hard rockers Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown.
Clutch with Sevendust and Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown
Thursday, October 11, 7:30 p.m. $35-$40