Can someone please get Clutch a publicity transfusion? While the band has built a rabid fanbase in its 15-plus years of havoc, the intuitive, volatile grooves of Robot Hive: Exodus deserve a closer listen from the clueless types still dawdling over Clutch's musical category. The record satisfies fans of 2004's Blast Tyrant and keeps on trucking stylistically, still featuring Neil Fallon's guttural cerebralisms ("Oh, but to just dine on sewage, cold seagull pie/Wrestle albino alligators and spin the good lie") but incorporating more of additional organ/keys man Mick Schauer and pushing out jams thicker than prehistoric amber. Opener "Incomparable Mr. Flannery" drops references to Dokken, Camaros, and downtown Detroit watering holes on its way to rolling with the moustache and supernova. The track's a good example of producer J. Robbins' feel throughout Robot Hive. He keeps the pace nimble, and that accentuates both the percussion's high end and the organic feel of Clutch's guitar/base strut. They aren't drop-tuning clones or vintage gearheads with no originality. Progressions are found within the riffs, and the blunt bottom end glances off smart lyrics and clever instrumental turns. Clutch offers heavy lifting for the thinking man. Schauer's Hammond shines on "10001110101," where a Deep Purple stomp sets up Fallon's observations of lunatics and the "Robot Lords of Tokyo." "Gravel Road" and "Who's Been Talking?" tinge the blues with heaviness, and "10,000 Witnesses" wouldn't be out of place on a North Mississippi Allstars record. There are also straight-on bangers here, like "Mice and Gods" or the awesomely named "Burning Beard," and "Never be Moved" works a great balance between boogey-metal guitar, Schauer's organ, and righteous gospel proclamations to "get your evolution on." On Robot Hive: Exodus Clutch knows its strengths, but continually challenges them. The band's always pushing the boundaries, and it's time the world outside the underground found that out.
Robot Hive/Exodus Review
by Johnny Loftus