Album Review: Psychic Warfare by Clutch

Date: October 7, 2015

By Brian Kane

Clutch's 2015 effort, Psychic Warfare, is a strategic barrage on the senses. Off the success of Earth Rocker, the band mixes up the formula slightly, without losing any of the intensity. I've always enjoyed Clutch's groove and blues infused hard rock, and this album really carries that forward. 

Clutch on the Wall in WSOU
(Image from a hall of WSOU.)

The album starts off with a 25 second track, "The Affidavit", serving as an intro to the hit single off the album, "X-Ray Visions". We've been rocking out to that track for a month or two now. It's catchy, it has a good beat and it's really fun. If you listen deeper, the song presents the story of a paranoid, superstitious spy and his confession of the titular psychic warfare. It's campy, but fun and the music video for the track plays on that. Flowing from this track to the next in a drum fill, "Firebirds!", keeps the energy going, talking about flirtation and energy weapons. As the song ends, so does the flow from the first two tracks. Stylistically, the transition cannot be as smooth as the last two, this is where the blues begins.

The blues side really comes out in the next track. "A Quick Death in Texas", gets into a steady riff and tells a sad tale of misadventures in the lone star state. It's lyrics are catchy, and even reference later songs in the album, like Doom Saloon. It's another catchy track. The group vocals really help it stand out, and I found myself singing along after the second listen. Sucker For The Witch picks up the pace slightly, but keeps the blues themes of heartbreak. Maintaining the supernatural elements of the album, the lyrics combine the woes of manipulating lovers and with actual Salem witches. Your Love Is Incarceration carries this theme of heartbreak in a more standard direction.  

Psychic Warfare
(Image courtesy of this source.)

However, Doom Saloon serves as a slower buffer and ushers in "Our Lady of Electric Light" slow everything down. I really enjoyed this one, it's a slow point, a bit of breathing room from the high octane beginning. Overall, the blues section is sandwiched by high energy hard hitting tracks. "Noble Savage," another song we've been playing lately, brings the album back to that "Firebirds!" level. It's filled with a catchy chorus and strong solos. "Behold The Colossus," rocks out to some Greek Mythology and makes sure things aren't getting too mundane. "Decapitation Blues" is probably my least favorite track on album, it does nothing to stand out. "Son of Virginia" slows it down again, while providing another solid guitar solo. The song ends, tying the narrative back together from the beginning. The story concludes with the "Son of Virginia", and the original narrator is "vexed by your statement". The whole album is revealed to be the testimony of the "X-Ray Visions" character. At the end he's asked to sign his name at the bottom and have a nice night.

The album's style and theme is really cool. I grew up on the blues and hard rock, so Psychic Warfare is a natural progression of my interests in that field. If you haven't given the band a try before, I think this is a good place to start. I won't give this album a score. I liked it a lot. I was afraid that X-Ray Visions would overpower the rest of the album, but that's up to individual interpretation. 

Please note that the opinions expressed in this review are the opinions of the writer alone. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of WSOU, Seton Hall University, nor any of its affiliates.

Posted in: Album Review, WSOU Exclusive

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