Blast Tyrant, by Clutch
Suggested by Alex Hamilton
For ALBUM 61, the Randomiser gave me Clutch’s Psychic Warfare. I enjoyed it immensely, with an initial score of 8/10, which rose to 9/10 at my 100 Album Ranking Milestone.
At the time, I was florid with my praise. I lauded the album for its raw energy, it’s swamp-rock swagger, and it’s balls-out nuclear nuttiness. It was a breathless revelation, and it still squats in my project’s Top 10.
In the complimentary comments for that review, the consensus was that while 2015’s Psychic Warfare was a fine album, the real jewel in Clutch’s crown was 2004’s Blast Tyrant. Serendipity had already secured its place on the Masterlist, and Fate saw it Randomised into rotation today.
Will Blast Tyrant blast the new pretender into orbit, or will Psychic Warfare declare war on its melodic ancestor?
From the outset, it seems that lead singer Neil Fallon has been belting out his brand of swagger-rock for many years. Both Mercury and Profits of Doom bring the brash tone I love from their later release, albeit with a little less confidence than I’d expected. Lyrically, these tracks touch upon similar themes and ideas as those on Psychic Warfare, but they seem less immediate, less accessible somehow. It’s not until we reach the third track, and my choice for standout on the album, The Mob Goes Wild, that we see the metaphorical mob, well, going wild. From the quirky opening vocals to the chantable anthemic chorus, this song is a belter.
Unfortunately, the rest of the album fails to live up to this single track.
Don’t get me wrong. It is a good record. There’s many a fine raucous rock song to be had, and a heady dose of ludicrous theme. I particularly enjoyed (In the Wake of) The Swollen Goat, and Subtle Hustle. I just felt that if you accept Psychic Warfare as Clutch dialled to ten, then Blast Tyrant feels like Clutch dialled to seven or eight. The grinding swampy blues are a little less moist, the energy is a trifle subdued, the themes are a pinch more sensible, and the experience is diminished because of it.
It’s interesting to consider the impact of timeline on such considerations. If I’d come to Blast Tyrant first, would I prefer it to Psychic Warfare? Had I been a fan of the band back in 2004 and picked this up at release, would my interest in their later works have diminished, as it so often does, through a natural musical necrosis? I think I’ll leave those musings to the philosophers.
The issue is likely one of expectation. Having loved Psychic Warfare, and having been told that Blast Tyrant was even better, I went in looking for a miracle. Unfortunately, Clutch aren’t in the miracle business. Blast Tyrant still gets a decent 7/10, but I was hoping for more. In the words of the great Chuck D, don’t believe the hype.