CLUTCH – From Beale Street To Oblivion

CLUTCH - From Beale Street To Oblivion
  • 8/10
    CLUTCH - From Beale Street To Oblivion - 8/10


Release date: March 27, 2007

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Ever since inception, Clutch has been a band that escaped basic genre labeling. Sometimes referred to as a Doom Metal band with a Punk influences, and sometimes referred to as Stoner Rock, the band has always defined itself simply as Clutch music. With the release of the latest From Beal Street to Oblivion, the Maryland-based quintet has ensconced its sound as solid Rock.

Tracking back to its earliest releases, 1991’s Pitchfork and 1993’s Transnational Speedway League: Anthems, Anecdotes And Undeniable Truths, Clutch has been churning out guitar-driven songs punctuated with Neil Fallon’s unmistakable voice. Where Beale Street … has stepped away from its predecessors is its maturity in craftsmanship and overall balance. The songs never drift too far toward the heavy end, nor do they stray too far from a traditional Blues-based chord structure. This is not to say the album is in any way limiting or repetitive, only that it sounds very purposeful and confident in its sound and style. Thick, warm, guitar arrangements by six-string sultan-o-swagger Tim Sult are complimented by the tight rhythm section of bassist Dan Maines and drummer Jean-Paul Gaster. Organist Mick Schauer is the soulful sound that sets Clutch apart from its contemporaries and lends to their nostalgic comparisons.

“Only the dirt I do believe / As memory vanishes among the leaves” is the opening lyric of track four from Beale Street…, one of the slower but gripping songs. Described as a song about some of the sights and sounds Fallon experiences along the old country roads running twixt Maryland and Virginia, Fallon has captured those soul-searching journeys where your mind wanders and you forget where you have been for the last twenty miles or so. The track ends with an eerie reverse dub that fades into the recesses of your mind. Track three, “The Devil & Me,” finds Fallon’s wit at its sharpest when he sings from God’s point of view with “The devil and me had a falling out / Violation of contract beyond a shadow of a doubt / Wherever he go, whomever he meet / He got to cross my house on the other side of the street.”

The album was recorded as close to a live setting as possible, recording all of the basic tracks directly to tape with no digital over-dubbing. To become more familiar with the songs, the band hit the road for a few weeks with the new material to fine-tune the songs prior to recording. Once in the studio, the songs fell together naturally, having by then become second nature. Fallon states that “this was so much easier, I don’t know why we haven’t done it this way all along.” The live feel is evident as the album has more swing to it than previous releases, and sounds less forced.

Another reason Beale Street … sounds so good is because producer Joe Barresi brings his fine-tuned ears to the mix. Barresi has produced albums for heavy hitters Tool, Queens of the Stone Age, and Kyuss. The band had such confidence in Joe that when it came time to mix the album, a process the band is usually involved in, they left all of the final mixing to Joe’s ears, and the band took the opportunity to support Motorhead in the UK and Europe. Once you hear the thick, meaty crunch of guitars and smooth layering of the organ, and clarity of the vocal, one will understand the trust the band had in Barresi.

For a band that has been compared to everyone from Black Sabbath and Faith No More to Lynyrd Skynyrd and Motörhead, Clutch certainly crosses the vast spectrum of musical tastes. Whether you like your music fast and hard to the gut, or if you like it molasses thick and full of soul, Clutch will appeal to you. Simply put, From Beale Street To Oblivion is good music with poignant and often sardonic lyrics delivered from the heart and the head.


  • Jeremy Juliano

    Jeremy was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. He's been involved with and has been following the Metal scene since the early 1980’s. He started out his Metal journey with heavy doses of Maiden, Accept, and Saxon. And in recent years, he has enjoyed the new age of Metal with bands like Hammerfall, Edguy, and Nightwish, to name a few.

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