I will admit that, despite being active since 1991, I am relatively new to Clutch but their appeal is clear to see – frenetic rock filled with fuzzy riffs and great storytelling. Their 12th album Book of Bad Decisions continues their steadfast dedication to good ol’ fashioned Rock n Roll, 15 songs of infectious melodies, huge choruses and ripping yarns. One element of difference is it’s length, at 56 minutes this is their longest record since 2001s Pure Rock Fury.
Usually I’m a stickler for the 40 – 45 minute length for albums, any longer and filler tends to crop up but fortunately this is not the case here, as remarkably it is nigh on an hour of top quality head bangers. ‘Gimme the Keys’, ‘In Walks Barbarella’ and ‘Hot Bottom Feeder’ are the cream of a very good crop. Album opener ‘Gimme the Keys’ sets the mood perfectly, with Neil Fallon barking at us to give him the keys and “get the hell out of dodge”. ‘In Walks Barbarella’ is an absolute barnstormer, a hooky serving of “weaponised funk” sporting an attention grabbing horn section. ‘Hot Bottom Feeder’ is a first, a recipe for crab cakes set to the tune of a souped-up slice of ZZ Top like southern rock, only Clutch hey.
Not forgetting ‘How to Shake Hands’, an Alice Cooper-esque tale of Fallon becoming U.S. President with promises of “straight talk and no jive” and plans to “disclose all those UFOs, put Jimi Hendrix on the 20 dollar bill and Bill Hicks on the 5 note” – well he cannot do any worse than the current perma-tanned incumbent.
The album may not have much variation, it very much follows on from Psychic Warfare, but the hit rate is remarkable. The devilish rocker complete with lashings of piano that is ‘Vision Quest’, and the measured stoner pacing and throbbing bass of ‘Emily Dickinson’ are just two more examples. The quality does not dip toward the end, proven in part by the bluesy, rock shuffle of ‘A Good Fire’ and the tight rhythm and undulating riffs of ‘H.B. is in Control’.
So there we have it, as surely as day follows night, life leads to death and bangers accompany mash Clutch have made yet another stellar album – surely no one is surprised by now.