Clutch- Psychic Warfare
FFO- Hard Rock, Blues Rock
Clutch has been going strong over the past 2 decades. Going from a Hardcore band to the Hard Rock/Blues Rock band that many people today will best know them for. With Clutch's 11th album, Psychic Warfare, The band is continuing down the path they led with their previous album, 2013's Earth Rocker, but adding a little more variation to the mix.
The album starts with a 25 second introduction, The Affidavit before kicking into the lead single, X-Ray Visions (the song is also where the album title get it's name from. The single has a good mix of Earth Rocker and a little bit of the psychedelic vibe of Pure Rock Fury. Firebirds starts with a killer fuzz guitar riff and has a pretty similar vibe to the song Earth Rocker with a bluesier chorus and solo section. A short but sweet song. A Quick Death In Texas, much like the name suggests, has a very southern vibe to it. A way to compare it is D.C. Sound Attack with a Texas twinge (It even has a similar cowbell drum beat in the middle!). Sucker For The Witch is a bit more upbeat. The lyrical content is reminiscent of songs like Cyborg Betty, very memorably vocal lines. Your Love Is Incarceration is layed in a funky, southern groove. If a song like Uptown Funk can take over the planet the way it did, so can Your Love Is Incarceration. Just as catchy and fun to listen to, but hopefully a lot less “I'm so sick of this song being played everywhere” vibe. Doom Saloon is an interlude song of a lone western style guitar riff that has a tremble of distorted guitar for highlights that all leads for the intro to Our Lady Of Electric Light. This ballad brings you all the way back to the old west in an outlaw way. Noble Savage picks the tempo back up in arguably the fastest song that Clutch ahs done in a very long time. The song reeks (in a good way of bluesy rock stylings mixed with 70s style Hard Rock. Behold The Colossus has a more upbeat but similar feel to The Face from Earth Rocker. Decapitation Blues, despite the deception of the song title, is actually quite mid tempo, nice, and heavy. A great rockin' song. The final song, Son Of Virginia is the longest track on the album at 7:15. The song has a vibe similar to Gone Cold if the song had a full drumset. A little before half way through the song, the song picks up in power and keeps up the same momentum throughout the rest of the song before it fades out. The last minute of the song is a bootleg sounding piano riff with some spoken words to end out the song wishing you a good night.
If Earth Rocker was an album for the North, Psychic Warfare is an album for the South. Both albums have a similar vibe to them, but Psychic Warfare is much more in the Blues and Southern Rock variety. Is it the most original album in their career? Far from it,! But that doesn't make it any less solid. If you wanted Earth Rocker to have more of variation in tempo and keep up the blues side of their sound, Psychic Warfare is the perfect album to check out! It proves the point once again that you just need to be solied at what you do to make a great album, and that's exactly what Clutch has delivered with Psychic Warfare.
Clutch- Psychic Warfare available NOW via Weathermaker Records
Dog Fashion Disco- Ad Nauseam
FFO- Experimental Metal, Avant Garde Metal
Dog Fashion Disco has been a band, at least for me, hit or miss. Some albums such as 2006's Adultery, was completely solid from start to finish, whereas some of the earlier work either either I loved, or just didn't grab me the way I hoped. With 2014's Sweet Nothings, it was a return for the bandthat had some great moments, but did feel likie a band trying to regarther it's bearings to find out where they wanted to go. Going into 2015's Ad Nauseam, I was hoping that now that the band is back together full time, that things would be getting into full momentum to help bring back what is so awesome about Dog Fashion Disco. Did they do it?
The album begins with the title track, Ad Nauseam. It starts off fast and has some 80s sounding synths. The chorus is layered with brass, almost giving the album of a 80's Dance Ska feel with Metal guitars. Last Night Never Happened starts with a slow Led Zepplin-ish drumbeat before kicking into an ominous piano making the song feel dark and creepy before kicking with a very upbeat chorus and getting predominantly heavier throughout. The lyrical content matches the music perfectly, very very creepy. Golden Mirage starts off with a piano riff that leads into a Big Band/Ska.Swing feel of a song. Think of the Dog Fashion Disco song, Pogo The Clown for a similar, yet different, vibe. Covered In Blood is without question the heaviest song on the album. It brings back memories of songs such as The Sacrifice Of Miss Rose Covington. A HUGE Slayer vibe is also apparent throughout. When played live, this will be the perfect circle pit song. Only The Haunted brings back a 60s/70s Prog Rock style and carries throughout the rest of the song. Lotion On It's Skin is a Brass filled horror song from the point of view of Buffalo Bill from Silence Of The Lambs (which is quite apparent given the title of the song). While the song isn't similar to Goodbye Horses, it does sound as creepy and happy...if you don't pay attention to the lyrics. Baby Bones once again starts with a lone piano riff and continues being a slower to mid tempo ballad. The song itself is slow, but the drums make it feel faster than it is. It begins to get a little heavier towards the end. Starving Artist is the final track and also the longest track on the album. It is the second heaviest song on the album starting off slower then gaining momentum with a bombastic, off time riff from everyone in the band. While there are lone Piano/vocal parts throughout, the song keeps up the chops of the proggy side of Dog Fashion Disco and at times, the side project Polkadot Cadaver. The second half of the song is a doomy, Sabbath style that helps end the song right before one final progression riff to end the album in a chaotic way.
At just 36 minutes, Ad Nauseam absolutely flies by and is quite the adrenaline rush of all senses, peaks, and valleys. While the album is not the perfect Dog Fashion Disco album, it is fantastic to have the band back full time and sounding as tight as ever. Any DFD fan can hope that Sweet Nothings and Ad Nauseam are just the beginning of what will hopefully be a lengthy return of the band we know and love, Dog Fashion Disco!
Dog Fashion Disco- Ad Nauseam available now via Rotten Records
Soilwork- The Ride Majestic
FFO- Melodic Death Metal, Progressive Metal
Soilwork has been a staple in Metal since their debut, Steelbath Suicide back in 1998. So how is the band holding up 17 years later? Like many bands in that amount of time, they have changed almost drastically. Although the band does keep their MDM roots in check, the band, now a days, is focusing much more on a proggier approach to songwriting, The Ride Majestic almost marks a turning point in the band, in which they are continuing to blend chaos with beauty. A great example of this is one of the sexiest ways to play Metal: Blast Beats Over Clean Vocals. The Ride Majestic also showcases a very mature approach to songwriting, no added segments, just because, no extra frills and shakes, just solid playing. Now how does this album compare to the past?
The albums tarts with the title track, The Ride Majestic. It starts with a slower, bluesy guitar riff before coming in with complete devastation and heaviness. What really sells the song is the melodic guitar over the heaviness. The song hearkens back to the days of Figure Number Five in the verse and the chorus of The Living Infinite. Alight In The Aftermath starts off extremely heavy with vibes going back all the way to Steelbath Suicide in parts. This is the first example of doing blast beats over clean vocals. The song goes through many tempo and style variations with a very bluesy solo in between the acts of chaos the rest of the song is. Death In General starts off with some guitar feedback and guitar in the background before the drums kick in with a tom assault. The main riff is a bluesy metal riff over a Meshuggah style beat. While still fast, this is one of the slower songs on the album verse wise. Then mind screws you with some blast beats before the second chorus. Enemies In Fidelity is one of the highlights of the album. It hints at the Figure Number Five and Stabbing The Drama eras of the band with a chorus that blows you away and is the best example of blast beats over clean vocals as the chorus (seriously, how sexy is this?). Petrichor By Surfer is a more dancey, almost pop metal song with a very haunting chorus. If mainstream radio gave it a chance, this would be a great single to have on Top 40 Rock. The Phantom is the most surprising song on the album because it touches on a genre you'd never expect, Black Metal. It even has some Black Metal screams in the beginning of the song. It completely feels like a mix of Melodic Death Metal and Black Metal (that's a genre that should be started asap!). The Ride Majestic (Aspire Angelic) is essentially Soilwork does Dream Theater, but with more blast beats. A part two of the title track if you will, lyrically. Whirl Of Pain starts off with a somber guitar riff and continues on with the slowest song of the album. Even with this being a “ballad” it is still incredibly heavy. All Along Echoing Pain is one of the more mid tempo songs on the album and again, has a Dance Metal feel to it though most of the song. This is quickly changed as soon as blast beats come into play. This could turn into a really great remix if someone decides to give it that kind of attention. Shining Lights is without question fastest song on the album. While the whole song isn't just about speed, it does tears everything apart in it's way with aggression and the right amount of melodicness. Father And Son Watching The World Go Down has a very Progressive Metal vibe throughout due in part to the keyboards and the drums. It has one of the most epic feeling choruses on the album and absolutely perfect closer to the album.
The Ride Majestic is, without question, the highlight of Soilwork's career so far. Everyone is performing at their absolute best. The absolute star of this album is Dirk Verbeuren. I had the pleasure of talking to Dirk a couple years back in support of The Living Infinite and at the time of the interview, he referred to Soilwork as similar to playing in AC/DC where he can, for the most part, relax and groove, compared to what he normally does outside of Soilwork. That is no longer the case. On this album he is balls to the wall from start to finish and showcasing some of his most impressive drum work he has ever recorded. I didn't think it was possible for Soilwork to out-due themselves with the double album, The Living Infinite, but they have shattered all my expectations and released possibly the finest albums in the world of Melodic Death Metal. The Ride Majestic gives to meaning to the words Brutality, Chaos, Melody and Perfection!
Soilwork- The Ride Majestic available now via Nuclear Blast Records