A few years ago, my guitar teacher at the time recommended several bands he thought I should be listening to. One of them was Clutch. With that I went out and purchased a few albums…I was hooked almost instantly.Clutch has been around for over a decade and has amassed a large collection of releases. Most fans, including myself, will agree that their best work was their self-titled release (1995). I feel that subsequent releases were lacking something. “The Elephant Riders” was a solid record but seemed to lack a certain energy. “Jam Room” seemed too short and bland for me. “Pure Rock Fury” was a fairly good record, but nothing outstanding. “Blast Tyrant”, while it isn’t as good as or better than the self-titled in my opinion, is several large steps in the right direction and may rank as my second favorite release from them.The tracks on this album are much faster and heavier than the last several albums. While there aren’t too many “standout” tracks, the album functions incredibly well as a whole. The production is fantastic. (Although some people complain about overproduction…if you want to hear stripped-down versions of the songs go see them live) Neil Fallon’s harsh vocal style is a bit more refined and sounds excellent on the record. Tim Sult’s guitar riffs seem more simplified than on earlier releases but still remain huge chunks of sonic delight. The rhythm section of Dan Maines on bass and Jean-Paul Gaster on drums bring everything together into one extraordinary package. Even the bizarre artwork is a sight to behold. The CD package unfolds into a landscape, and the lyric booklet contains illustrations of the characters featured in the songs.”Mercury” opens the album with over a minute of heavy instrumental-ness before the vocals kick in. An excellent choice for an opener. “Profits of Doom” is a little more groovy while still remaining very catchy.”The Mob Goes Wild” is the current single. It’s a catchy song but not one of my favorites. There’s a few political jabs here and there but nothing to get riled up about.”Cypress Grove” is a heavy song with a cowbell added to the percussion. How can you not love a song with cowbell?”Promoter” is a hard-hitting, headbanging slab of rock. Probably the heaviest song on the album. They’ve been playing this song for two years, and I was horridly sick of it until I heard the album version. The keyboards (especially evident in the intro) add atmosphere to the track.”The Regulator” features acoustic guitars and a slowed-down drum beat. A nice little breather from the heavy songs preceeding it. The only problem is that Neil’s singing voice isn’t spectacular and doesn’t compliment the track as well as it probably should.”Worm Drink” is a funky little number that doesn’t grab my attention as much as it probably should. This introduces one of the many characters that make up the theme of the album, a demon who’s fed up with evil and war. This track is a bit bizarre due to Neil’s howling throughout.”Army of Bono” is my favorite track on the album. I’ve loved this song since its early days when it was known as “Walpole Man”. The drums are hard hitting, the guitar riffs are incredibly catchy and Neil’s vocals paint a vivid picture of a military-ruled society controlled by a “smoking Irish fly”. (Or at least that’s what I get out of it) Props to Neil for successfully using the word “stigmata” in a song.”Spleen Merchant” is an eccentric song with heavy riffs and lyrics about cadavers and cannibalism.”The Swollen Goat” is the name of the ship commanded by the antagonist, the Blast Tyrant. It’s a song about pirates doing pirate things… pillaging, looting and destroying things. Definitely in the vein of the earlier classics, “Big News I” and “Big News II”.”Weather Maker” is a waste of 47 seconds in my opinion.”Subtle Hustle” is a catchy track that sounds like something a gospel choir might sing if it was on drugs. Or something.”Eulogy for a Ghost” is another acoustic, depressing track on the subject of death. Not a great track in my opinion.”La Curandera” has evolved over the past two years into an epic song based on the Salem Witch Trials. La Curandera is prosecuted as a witch and is sent to be executed. The song completely changes halfway through, which still bothers me. Nonetheless, both halves are incredible.”WYSIWYG” is an interesting guitar-keyboard jam that reminds me of Pink Floyd for one reason or another. Not the best way to end the album but it’s a decent track.So while I don’t consider this to be Clutch’s greatest release, it’s still an incredible album that I’d recommend to anyone who’s a fan of hard rock. If you can only own one Clutch record, I’d suggest the self-titled release. If you can only on two, I say get this one too.Post-script: The CD is labelled as ‘enhanced’ but doesn’t contain the enhanced features it was originally intended to due to time constraints.