Album Review: CLUTCH – Book of Bad Decisions


Clutch – Book of Bad Decisions

Record Label: Weathermaker Music

Release Date: September 7, 2018

Clutch does it again. You know how every parent has a favorite kid, even if they don’t admit it? Well, Clutch is everyone’s favorite child. It is familiar, comfortable, and always a joy to have around. They have a unique southern type sound mixed with a psychedelic stoner grind, that is difficult to replicate. It is original, and it is always done extremely well. You may not know where they will take you, but the experience and the ride is always different, and well worth it. Book of Bad Decisions takes you on another journey, and it is just as powerful and intriguing as all its previous 11 predecessors. Crank it up, put on your adventure shoes, and create your own bad decisions.

Clutch originates out of Maryland and have had many accomplishments since they started in 1991. Members: Neil Fallon (vocals, guitar), Jean-Paul Gaster (drums), Dan Maines (bass), and Tim Sult (guitar), not only were the original band, but have continued this legacy all these years. They have progressively added new instruments and different sounds, while continuing to reproduce the same original and incredible feel as their beginning albums. Neil Fallon has joked about his lyrics and how he writes stating, “I would rather not be able to answer all the questions, just to keep it interesting for myself. Sometimes a rhyme sounds awesome and I don’t know what it means, but I’ll go with it anyway.” So if you are having a hard time interpreting his lyrics, here is your answer to why. Other songs are not difficult to interpret at all, he simply lays it in black and white for you to just enjoy. He is a storyteller full of color and philosophy. Whatever you are getting lyrically from him, it continues to awe his fans. When you add the incredible instrumental genius on top of them, it becomes magic.

Book of Bad Decisions starts off with the track, “Gimme the Keys” an electronic beat that, admittedly, threw me off a little. I had to check to make sure I started the correct album. It quickly jumped into that organic Clutch sound. Gaster’s drum beat in this song really caught my ear. It is almost a war type beat. It is a great start to this album. This is followed by the winding grind of “Spirit of ’76”.

The album’s title track is quite bluesy and has some epic guitar work. It is a groovy kind of song with a haunting undertone. I mean, he is talking about bad decisions, so it is going to have this feel to it. Sult’s guitar solo is flawless. Maines’ bass adds a hip, strutting swagger to the feel of the track. It will be a quick Clutch fan favorite.

“Are you cool? Well I’m cool. Is everybody cool?” “How to Shake Hands” is a humorous song about, I am assuming Fallon, taking over presidency in the White House and all the bizarre and crazy things he is going to do when he wins, because, of course, he wins. Never ones to take themselves too seriously even when serious, these guys just know how to have fun.

“In Walks Barbarella”, originally titled “Talkbox”, has a funk type sound to it with horns, and a very catchy chorus. “Emily Dickinson”, my favorite on this album, is a slower song. The riff is very catchy, and Fallon belts it out like only Fallon can do. The rest of the song is very eerie, I felt like I was walking through a dark forest while listening to it. No idea why I had this imagery, but this is supposed to be an honest review, so there it is. It is a great song, and has been on repeat since I have received this album.

“Hot Bottom Feeder” is incredibly memorable and interesting. It has a strong stoner rock beginning with the fuzz guitar riff that breaks into an incredible bass and drum exchange. It even has a Jimi Hendrix feel to it toward the middle. “Lorelei” is the last song on this 15-track album. It starts off slow and builds up to a drum beat with the guitar intercepting beautifully. I need to pick this song apart more, because I feel as if I am missing something here that I don’t want to miss.

Book of Bad Decisions is another well-crafted by one of the greatest rock bands in the last thirty years. Producer Vance Powell (Seasick Steve, The White Stripes, Arctic Monkeys, Chris Stapleton) has given Clutch a visceral, organic edge. Twelve albums deep and Clutch continue to stay strong and remain true to their fans. To continually put out great music year after year, is a feat not many bands struggle to accomplish effectively, Clutch manages with aplomb. It is worth the buy, it is worth the listen, it is worth the experience.

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