From Beale Street to Oblivion

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Circa the early 21st century, it has become quite uncommon for hard rock bands to create a substantial following the old-fashioned way -- nonstop touring -- rather than having to rely on MTV and radio's stamp of approval. But Clutch have done it their way since the very beginning, and their tenth full-length overall, 2007's From Beale Street to Oblivion, may just be their strongest and most focused recording yet. The riffs are still meaty, the still somewhat new addition of organ has added a deep classic rock dimension, and Neil Fallon's pissed-off trucker vocals are as, well, ballsy as ever (if you want emo-boy whining you've come to the wrong place, buster). Unlike some similar-styled bands that completely align themselves with either stoner metal or retro-rock, Clutch borrow equally from both, as evidenced by such standouts as the album-opening big rock of "You Can't Stop Progress," the Southern rockish "The Devil & Me," and the snake-hiding-in-the-grass boogie of "Electric Worry." And Clutch get extra points for offering one of the best lyrics you're going to hear on a 2007 rock recording -- "You can always tell the terrorist/By his cologne and the watch on his wrist" (from the furious 'n' defiant "Power Player"). If you long for the days when Soundgarden were still a functioning band, Kyuss were still patrolling the desert, and Black Sabbath had yet to make up with Ozzy, Clutch will definitely not let you down with From Beale Street to Oblivion.

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