Clutch has never failed to disappoint me when I’m in the mood for some head-banging, testosterone-laden riff-rock, and this latest album is no exception. Simply put, nobody combines heaviness, musicianship, and originality like these guys, positioning them as an ideal antidote to the endless waves of emasculated whining emanating from the radio. Like every other Clutch release, Blast Tyrant is an insanely infectious, fiercely original groove monster of an album that never fails to betray the sound of a bunch of guys who love what they do. For all their technical perfection and rip-roaring heaviness, that’s really what makes Clutch such a great band: they never sound like they were sentenced to play music, or like they write songs to exorcise personal demons or any other such nonsense. They just churn out album after album of their own brand of uncompromising sonic stomp, and for that we should be thankful.
While it’s not quite as ambitious or wide-ranging as its predecessor, Pure Rock Fury, this album still manages to surpass its predecessor thanks to its supremely focused songwriting and tight ensemble playing. Tim Sult’s guitar playing has become even funkier than before, Jean-Paul Gaster’s drumming jazzier, and Dan Maines’s basslines even more thunderous. Towering over everything are the massive, gravelly vocals of the one and only Neil Fallon, whose frightening yowl is surely among the most distinctive voices in all of heavy music. With Neil in front, Blast Tyrant always hits hard, even during the acoustic-tinged tracks Regulator and Ghost and the quirky closing jam Wysiwyg. Unfortunately, Clutch don’t seem to get mentioned all that often when the discussion turns to the world’s best heavy bands, but they should be, dammit. Blast Tyrant is easily among the best albums of the year. Period.