Clutch – “Blast Tyrant”

Of Strange Beasts and Phantoms

The Hall of Fame isn’t just a library of legendary first attempts or super influential second albums. Throughout, Decibel has unfurled the proverbial carpet to bands well into their now-vaunted careers. To wit, Corrosion of Conformity found the key to the Hall via their historic third record, Blind. Influential U.K. proto-metal phenoms Budgie were also on their third with Never Turn Your Back on a Friend when they hit the Hall with vintage heaviness. So, it’s not without precedent that we fired up our flat black 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle and muscled past Clutch’s triple-poser threats in Transnational Speedway League (1993), Clutch (1995) and The Elephant Riders (1998) for the venerated post-millennial riffmaster general Blast Tyrant.

Moored by lead single and video “The Mob Goes Wild” and expanded upon by the acoustic guitar mastery of “The Regulator,” Blast Tyrant wasn’t just the follow-up to 2001’s guest musician-heavy Pure Rock Fury. The 15-song pinnacle of modern heavy rock was Clutch rewriting the rules. In many respects, the Marylanders had grown beyond their humble hardcore (and later alt-metal) trappings. After a tumultuous time on Atlantic and Columbia Records, they needed to move on by throwing their past to the wind. It wasn’t an abandonment of the songs that made them heavy rock favorites from the mid- to late-’90s (“A Shogun Named Marcus,” “Spacegrass,” “The Soapmakers”). Rather, the time was right to start anew. So, Clutch replaced their gas station badge logo with a trippy alternative. As the unforgettable line in “Spacegrass” goes, “Don’t worry, it’s coming.”

Indeed, by hook, crook and a lot of risks, Clutch opened up the hood, slotted in a Ford 427 “Cammer” and repainted the bitch. From the expeditious “Mercury” and the rhythmic funk of “Cypress Grove” to the thunder boogie of “Worm Drink” and the barebones “Ghost,” Clutch funneled their influences—old and new—into a reconfigured powerhouse. By having producer Machine at the helm, the quartet would also find an outsider coming into the fold. The New Jerseyan hammered into and pulled out of Clutch’s songwriting bag, refining and retooling Tim Sult’s “Big Block” riffs, honing Jean-Paul Gaster’s drums, perfecting Dan Maines’ mountainous grooves, and hyper-projecting Neil Fallon’s full-throttle vocals and wry humor. Blast Tyrant was to the aughts what the self-titled was to the ’90s. It was a way forward and definitely a standard-setter in the realm of heavy rock.

With Blast Tyrant, Clutch not only join fellow riff-rockers Kyuss, Monster Magnet and Sleep; they also find themselves next to their influences in Black Sabbath, Bad Brains and Melvins. The Hall hereby welcomes the heavy groove and sardonic wit of Clutch milemarker Blast Tyrant.

Need more Clutch? To read the entire seven-page story, featuring interviews with all members on Blast Tyrant, purchase the print issue from our store, or digitally via our app for iPhone/iPad or Android.