Clutch, "Earth Rocker" (Weathermaker Music)
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Clutch, the hard-touring Maryland band with an endless supply of guitar riffs, is back on the righteous path of heavy rock after an ill-advised foray into bluesy territory. Singer Neil Fallon's growl is ho-hum when it croons over a Hammond B3. But it sounds just right when he's howling at the moon, as on the new demented party anthem, "The Wolf Man Kindly Requests ..."
"Earth Rocker" is Clutch's hardest-hitting album in a while, and it's full of Fallon's occasionally inscrutable, fantastical sci-fi themes. There are references to Guttenberg, the Large Hadron Collider and the medieval weapon the halberd -- and that's just in one song ("Unto the Breach").
"The Face" imagines a post-apocalyptic pop culture landscape where rock is dead and electric guitars have been cast into the sea. On "Cyborg Bette," our rock-star narrator falls for a robot, his "latest model." A welcome return to form.