Sunrise on Slaughter Beach, the 13th set from hard rock road horses Clutch, is more of the same reliably rocking output from the Maryland gang. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. On this brisk, nine-track outing, the quartet prove once again that they are the masters of their craft, delivering hit after hit of grooving muscle and visceral thrills. From their usual wheelhouse, Neil Fallon, Tim Sult, Jean-Paul Gaster, and Dan Maines dig down with the help of a pair of secret weapons, backing vocalists Deborah Bond and Franchell "Frenchie" Davis, whipping up a storm of heavy riffs, beefy percussion, and heavenly harmony. For classic Clutch ragers, "Red Alert (Boss Metal Zone)" and "We Strive for Excellence" hit all the marks: chugging urgency, the band firing on all available cylinders, and a wide-eyed Fallon atop his fiery pulpit pointing and grasping at the faithful. Other energetic highlights include the towering "Slaughter Beach," which stomps patiently along a filthy riff, as the equally hulking "Nosferatu Madre" slowly transforms its doom-laden haze into something bordering on spiritual. "Skeletons on Mars" is a standout epic, kicking off with an irresistible groove and building to an extended space jam that eventually explodes to a breathless conclusion. On the less-riotous end of the spectrum, Clutch continue to expand the scope of how the band can sound: ominous bells toll on "Mercy Brown" as Bond, Davis, and Fallon cry out, "Be still your beating heart," atop the most haunting wails on the album, while the Wild West closer "Jackhammer Our Names" ends Slaughter Beach on a discomfiting, foreboding note. Their shortest salvo to date, Sunrise on Slaughter Beach distills all that's good in late-era Clutch, providing a familiar hit of serotonin and physical release.
Sunrise on Slaughter Beach Review
by Neil Z. Yeung