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Clutch - "Full Fathom Five: Audio Field Recordings 2007-2008" (CD)

Clutch - "Full Fathom Five: Audio Field Recordings 2007-2008" CD cover image

"Full Fathom Five: Audio Field Recordings 2007-2008" track listing:

1. The Dragonfly
2. Child of the City
3. The Devil & Me
4. Texan Book of the Dead
5. Animal Farm
6. The Mob Goes Wild
7. Cypress Grove
8. The Elephant Riders
9. Ship of Gold
10. The Yeti
11. Promoter (of Earthbound Causes)
12. 10001110101
13. Mr. Shiny Cadillackness
14. Electric Worry
15. One Eye Dollar

Reviewed by on May 20, 2009

"Guest musicians Eric Oblander on harmonica and Mick Schauer on keyboards make this one a jam to remember, as does the restrained guitar work that seems improvised, but never veers off into shred-ville."

The live album can be a showcase for a band, improving on the energy of studio versions of songs by adding the roar of the crowd and the sheer unpredictability of a live concert experience. Or it can be a trap, exposing all the weaknesses the band uses studio trickery to cover up. There's a bit of both on Clutch's "Full Fathom Five: Audio Field Recordings 2007-2008."

Recorded at several locations in the United States and Australia, the album shows off the band's instrumental proficiency well. I particularly enjoyed the Led Zeppelin-ish stomp of "Cypress Grove," which shows off the band's love of the blues. Guest musicians Eric Oblander on harmonica and Mick Schauer on keyboards make this one a jam to remember, as does the restrained guitar work that seems improvised, but never veers off into shred-ville.

Promoter (of Earthbound Causes) is another showcase for the band's bluesier side, while "The Dragonfly," "Child of the City," and other songs maintain the stoner metal vibe the band's become known for.

The major weakness on this disc is Neil Fallon's vocals, which come off much weaker than the studio versions. "The Dragonfly," which opens the album, is almost jarring, in that Fallon just sounds weird compared to the almost ominous vibe that the studio version gives off.

Then again, as the album goes on, one gets used to the idea that there won't be any attempt to duplicate the double-tracked vocals on the studio versions.

All in all, "Full Fathom Five: Audio Field Recordings 2007-2008" is a competent, if somewhat uninspiring live effort. If you're looking for some stoner-iffic tunes that blend a Grateful Dead vibe with metal grooves, this might be the disc for you.

Highs: Instrumentally, the album's great, but "Cypress Grove" especially stands out.

Lows: Neil Fallon's vocals initially come off weak compared to the studio versions.

Bottom line: Stoner rock fans will enjoy this jammy slice of live metal.

Rated 3.0 out of 5 skulls
3.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)