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Clutch - "Robot Hive/Exodus" (CD)

Clutch - "Robot Hive/Exodus" CD cover image

"Robot Hive/Exodus" track listing:

1. The Incomparable Mr. Flannery
2. Burning Beard
3. Gullah
4. Mice And Gods
5. Pulaski Skyway
6. Never Be Moved
7. 10001110101
8. Small Upsetters
9. Circus Maximus
10. Tripping The Alarm
11. 10,000 Witnesses
12. Land Of Pleasant Living
13. Gravel Road
14. Who's Been Talking?

Reviewed by on August 2, 2006

"Musically this is Clutch’s most mature offering to date"

The latest Clutch release is an awesome effort from this Maryland band. It is their seventh full length release. The album has great artwork and packaging and a full attached booklet, something which many albums skip out on today. Even the disc itself has cool artwork printed on the front. The album is Clutch’s second release on DRT Entertainment, the first being Blast Tyrant.

Musically this is Clutch’s most mature offering to date. The album starts with a great down home rock song, “The Incomparable Mr. Flannery.” Then busts into the well known single “Burning Beard” and then into the groove and riff blend of “Gullah.” All the songs have the signature Clutch sound and the production is right on. Drums stand out, with bass and six string blending almost perfect.

“Mice and Gods” is when the organ comes on, starting out with just a stab here or there before the chorus kicks in and the rolling drums take over. Later the keys play a little back and forth with Tim Sult on guitar. The keyboard sounds are a new addition to the band and to any other album before. Mick Schauer is the keyboard player, laying it down on the Hammond Organ, clavinet and electric piano.

The keys take on a life of their own, sometimes adding filler in spots, sometimes jamming way out or adding cool intros like on “10001110101” and the killer key solo mid song in “Never Be Moved.” The crazy song titles are another Clutch signature, along with the whimsical lyrics entwined in back and forth vocal styles. Songs like “Small Upsetters” have the signature jam groove of Clutch, but now with rhythms, stabs and leads on the keys and blending with guitars. All the sounds culminate on tracks like “10,000 Witnesses,” an upbeat tune with a killer build and great use of the keys.

As always I can’t forget the thumping bass lines, which is half of the heart of the band. The rhythms laid down on the bass and drums are wild and almost silly in parts and smooth grooves in others, such as the intro for “Land of Pleasant Living.” These two are the ground work for Fallon’s vocal flow and Sult's impeccable riffing. The remaining songs, “Gravel Road” and “Who’s Been Talking?,” are an excellent ending to a fourteen song album. “Gravel Road” has a strange twang guitar sound and thumping beat which gives the song a country bump sound, separating it from most of the other songs on shear style. “Who’s Been Talking?,” the last song, is a whimsical song, down tempo and drenched in keyboard rhythm and upfront vocals.

The whole album has the feel of a 70’s style rock band, though better production and a much more contemporary sound. Clutch is not hard core metal or even heavy metal by any means, though they do have a thick sound and edgy riffs. This is an all American rock album, with music which crosses age boundaries and brings a loyal following to the band. For the already Clutch fan the new material alone is enough, but for the enthusiast the addition of keyboards and the more mature sound will be the hook to get them to pick up this album. For those new the Clutch sound this album is great to start with, it really shows off the strengths of the band and their style of music.

Highs: The addition of keyboards to their music

Lows: Not enough instrumental jam tracks

Bottom line: Kick-ass American rock’n’roll

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

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)