Has there ever been a more reliable band than Maryland stoner/hardcore/agit rockers Clutch? Since their debut album in 1993 right through to modern day, they have remained consistent in their combined musical attitudes, whilst still pushing the boundaries and evolving their core sound. Songs Of Much Gravity is a collection of their early work, impeccably showcasing their evolution in those formative years from hardcore noise upstarts to streamlined rockers.
Disc One kicks off with the aforementioned debut, the absolutely vital, Transnational Speedway League: Anthems, Anecdotes, and Undeniable Truths, an album choc full of self-loathing noise rock that threw the metal world a massive curveball with huge riffs, backed by a rhythm section that would go on to become one on of the genre’s best and vocalist Neil Fallon’s off kilter vocal delivery and lyrical musings. It made metalheads and hardcore kids the world over re-evaluate their musical preferences and introduced us to tracks like A Shogun Named Marcus which would become a fixture in Clutch live sets for the next twenty five years.
Moving swiftly on and Disc Two contains the follow up to their debut the self-titled Clutch which dropped in 1995. Whilst it maintained a lot of the charm of their debut, Clutch is where the band would start to introduce bluesy stoner rock elements to their sound and tracks like Spacegrass would become stoner rock classics. Clutch is also where Fallon’s lyrical style started to take on a life of it’s own, making him one of rock’s most unique writers.
Further releases came in the mid to late 90’s but the next big jump in the band’s evolution came with 2001’s Pure Rock Fury which makes up the third disc in this collection. Pure Rock Fury is where the band streamlined everything they have learned and took their place amongst the finest bands that the American underground has ever produced. It’s the sound of band absolutely on fire by this point and nearly every track on the album can be considered a Clutch classic, Fallon even proving he has some hip-hop chops in the awesome Careful With That Mic. The band are still evolving to this day and still deleivering the goods to this day, but if you are looking for the point where they ceased to be the underground’s best kept secret then look no further than the album, best described by it’s title. Pure Rock Fury.
This brings us onto Disc Four, the one for the collectors where we get gems such as remixes and live cuts previously only heard on Japanese releases and B-Sides including the near thirteen miinute blues jam of Frankenstein. When these guys hit a jam room, magic happens, and this well thought out box set is the perfect opportunity for newer fans to dive back into the history of this important band and discover how the 4 guys from Virginia, became the musical titans they are… Chris Andrews