I wasn’t aware that major labels bothered with sweaty, image-free bands like Clutch anymore, but since Pure Rock Fury is the Maryland band’s fifth full-length record and its third on a major, I am pleased to be proved wrong.
Chock-full with groove-heavy rock anthems, the album is as aggressive as the title affirms it to be, whilst lacing the gigantic riffs with a subtle ear for melody. Although the band’s mission is to “demand an alteration of perspective and legitimate digestion of life”, they go about it without regurgitating half-baked riffs or overpowering the music with indecipherable screaming lyrics.
As such, they are just the right side of heavy to appeal to both hardcore metallers whilst retaining enough pop sensibilities to please the average rock fan. “American Sleep” explodes into life after some guitar feedback and distortion and reveals itself to be a enjoyable slice of funk-metal whilst the title track quickens the pace with a blistering assault on the senses and a very melodic, yet heavy chorus.
Aside from a few exceptions, the majority of the album is well worth a listen, and fuses a wide range of influences to affirm the band’s unique sound. In places “Red Horse Rainbow” recalls ‘70s classic rock and “Open up the Border” is possibly the most melodic and commercial track on the album. “Drink to the Dead” has a low-down, dirty riff and terrific rhythm and “Immortal” has some excellent drum work.
After all this diversity, vocalist Neil Fallon cements the band’s place in the 2001 metal scene on the topical “Careful with That Mic”, with a scathing assessment of the current fad for rap-rock: “You rely on gimmicks to amuse your fans / and act all urban to jack up your sound scan”.
Relying on gimmicks or selling out are not things you could ever accuse Clutch of, as Pure Rock Fury is an honest, solid record. And judging by the moody cover photos of the guys, you wouldn’t really want to.