Clutch - Robot Hive / Exodus
DRT Entertainment
Hard/Stoner Rock
15 songs (54:43)
Release year: 2005
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

The question of what makes a perfect Rock album is one that has, is, and will forever more be argued, and you’re rarely likely to get the same answer twice. Yet the seventh album from Blues-infused Stoner Rockers Clutch is as brilliant as music of that nature gets, musical perfection of a formula that’s been honed over years. As good as all their past albums were, this reset the bar, this is what to measure Rock in general against. Few bands manage to so perfect their songwriting, yet Clutch managed it here, creating an album comprising perfect song after perfect song – following up the excellent Blast Tyrant less than a year later was always going to be difficult, but to do so in such a flawless fashion, as well as simultaneously introducing a keyboardist to the band’s jealously-defended core sound? Few bands would even attempt it, yet Clutch succeeded beyond all wildest dreams.

Picking killer tracks is not hard, because I could pick any few tracks at random and they’d all be excellent. Each has its own hook, its own hidden complexities, its own instrumental brilliance. The sheer amount of thought is incredible, the few seconds of near-silence at the start of first track The Incomparable Mr Flannery before that killer riff comes in one of many moments that makes you appreciate Clutch as the clever bunch of mofos that they are, playing to their strengths but constantly pushing the envelope. As they flow seamlessly into the arguably even better Burning Beard it’s hard not be utterly in love, caught up in Neil Fallon’s eccentric world as he spits lyrics that are odder than ever, yet that make complete and utter sense in context.

As mentioned, the instrumentation gained an extra element here with the addition of full-time organist Mick Schauer, yet he slots right into the band’s guitar-heavy Bluesy stomp and makes himself known on the likes of Gullah. Clutch as a band are fantastic musicians, as fans of them and The Bakerton Group side-project will be well aware, and they channel their skills perfectly. There’s a semi-hidden strain of Progressive influence in Clutch’s music which is more apparent viewing this album as a whole than as individual songs (although Circus Maximus is full of off-kilter quirk) but the sheer variety is excellent, especially when you get past the terrific opening and start exploring the lesser-talked-about tracks. Pulaski Skyway rocks just as hard as any other, yet there’s an increased storytelling feel to Fallon’s vocals, enhanced by the impressively tight groove from the band, and the following Never Be Moved has one of the band’s catchiest sing-along choruses, along with some even greater organ work.

There’s absolutely nothing bad that you can say about this album. The fantastic 10001110101 wrestles binary code from Rush and makes for an even better song as a whole, whilst even the more or less instrumentals Small Upsetters and Tripping The Alarm are brilliant. I’ve never seen 10,000 Witnesses receive the praise it deserves, but it is absolutely classic Clutch, and stands out even on an album as good as this. And, of course, closing covers Gravel Road and Who’s Been Talking (Mississippi Fred McDowell and Howlin’ Wolf respectively) are as good as the rest of the album. It took me many, many attempts to do this review, each time I started soon forgetting about writing as the quality of the album overtook my brain – the amount of willpower exercised in the course of this could power a small town for a week. I’ve been cagey about naming Clutch’s best album in the past, but hearing this it’s impossible not to immediately name it as first and foremost in a discography that rivals many for sheer unabashed quality. You’re guaranteed a good time with most Clutch albums, but Robot Hive/Exodus is a cut above, and deserves classic status. A must-have for rockers of all shapes and sizes.

Killing Songs :
All, especially The Incomparable Mr Flannery, Burning Beard, Mice And Gods, Never Be Moved, 10001110101, 10,000 Witnesses, and Gravel Road
Goat quoted 94 / 100
Other albums by Clutch that we have reviewed:
Clutch - Book of Bad Decisions reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
Clutch - Earth Rocker reviewed by Goat and quoted 81 / 100
Clutch - Strange Cousins From The West reviewed by Goat and quoted 77 / 100
Clutch - Blast Tyrant reviewed by Goat and quoted 87 / 100
Clutch - From Beale Street To Oblivion reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
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