Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Clutch - Blast Tyrant

Submitted By : Chris Smith (of Halifax horror filmscore band Bloodbath)

JP Gaster has been with Clutch from their beginnings as a semi hardcore punk and metal band (Transnational Speedway League) to a balls out stoner rock band (Pure Rock Fury, Elephant Riders*) and eventually a regular ass blues band (From Beale Street To Oblivion). Blast Tyrant, released in 2004 sits somewhere between the stoner rock phase and the blues phase, and it's a hell of a piece of work.

Does JP Gaster play any better or do anything more impressive on this album than on the others? Not really, I could have easily put Pure Rock Fury here and it would deserve just as much praise. What sets it apart is that this is the first Clutch album that really had a polished feel to it, what I love is that JP is as impressive as always, but everything just sounds better.

As far as his playing goes, JP has always been able to sit in the pocket much better than most drummers. Clutch like to sit on riffs for a long time and with the wrong drummer this can feel tedious and boring, but with JP he keeps things interesting by changing his feel ever so slightly, he'll switch to the ride bell, or spend a whole four bars playing some elaborate drum fill that always resolves at the perfect time. It sounds like he is completely comfortable all of the time.

This is also the only album I think I own that has a track with the band clearly "jamming" that doesn't suck. The bass remains pretty constant while JP and the keyboardist sort of play around with what's going on, and JP keeps it interesting enough that I don't turn it off when it comes on (it is the last track, so that can be tempting). JP is one of those rare blues drummers who keeps the cheese factor to a minimum. You don't hear the term "balls out blues drumming" very often (nor should you), but his balls are so far out on this record that they need to be coiled around his ankle to walk.

*It should be noted that Elephant Riders has quite possibly the best (and most literal) album art of the 90's. I don't know who thought of well dressed men riding elephants, waving a Clutch flag around, but I wish I had been in attendance at that board meeting.

Audio/Visual Evidence : The Mob Goes Wild, Profits of Doom, The Promoter.

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