Part metal, part neo-hardcore, part thrash, Maryland's Clutch has always been an interesting bunch. Over the years, the band has developed into a solid live act, honing its trade through incessant roadwork. If you can find it, Passive Restraints, the band's first 7" for grindcore-metal label Earache, takes you back to where it all began, ultimately proving to be a satisfying collection of three of the band's best songs. Kicking off with "High Caliber Consecration," the track is a showcase for singer Neil Fallon's often hilarious, stream-of-consciousness lyrics. As Fallon quips, "My father was black, my mother was Decker, believe my friend it doesn't get any better...," the band wraps the singer's sandpaper voice with a guitar crunch that wouldn't be out of place on a Sick of It All record. Live favorite "Impetus" features an awesome intro courtesy of monster drummer Jean-Paul Gaster. The track reaches its climax as Fallon howls "I will not relent, I will not relent, I am driven, Impetus, I am driven." The 7" ends on a high note with one of the band's most focused songs, the brooding, dirgy, and later explosive "High Caliber Consecrator" -- with the latter portion of the track erupting into an almost Helmet-like guitar assault just before Fallon's voice gives the track its final push over the edge.
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AllMusic Review by John Franck