Clutch, ‘Earth Rocker’

“Earth Rocker” is Clutch’s hard turn into primal boogie heaviness. The acoustic flourishes, blues songs, and psychedelic forays that shaped Clutch’s past few records are shelved and in their place are hard and barbed riff-driven tunes. Drummer Jean-Paul Gaster keeps things going at a crisp clip while managing subtle shadings. The drummer’s tight control and bassist Dan Maines’s aggressive low-end let guitarist Tim Sult go nuts — you will air guitar. Singer Neil Fallon is a holy rock ’n’ roller celebrating his music’s cathartic release and its history. There are nods to not-so-obvious steps that led to Clutch: “Rocket 88,” Canned Heat, and “Ballroom Blitz” are among the coded references in the lyrics. The record is not all rock about rock. “Mr. Freedom” and “D.C. Sound Attack” are political diatribes akin to “War Pigs.” “Oh, Isabella” and “Unto the Breach” are patented Fallon fable spinning. And “Crucial Velocity” is a good ol’ car tune (sort of) that involves time travel (kind of). (Out Tuesday)

Scott McLennan

ESSENTIAL “Crucial Velocity”

Clutch plays the House of Blues on May 5.

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