Clutch Book of Bad Decisions is Pedal to The Metal Weaponized Funk (Review)

by | Aug 24, 2018


The new Clutch album ‘Book of Bad Decisions’ is set for release September 7, 2018 via Weathermaker Music from producer Vance Powell (Jack White, the Raconteurs). Here is my advanced review:

clutch book of bad decisions

“I’ve never been one for nostalgia. I’ve always shied away from it. But after 27 years of this, I realize that there is a wealth of stories to look back upon as lyrical fodder. As the saying goes, “You don’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.” Not all the songs reference our collective experience as a band, but Book of Bad Decisions seemed like an apt name for these various chapters, whether factual, fictitious, or somewhere in-between.” Singer Neil Fallon on Clutch – Book of Bad Decisions.

From the big band horns on ‘In Walks Barbarella’, which also features the use of beautifully absurd signature Clutch lyrics like ‘Weaponized Funk’, to the political and bizarre ‘How to Shake Hands’ which tries to take a stab at the current state of America’s shitshow — ‘Book of Bad Decisions’ is pedal to the metal rock and roll. Clutch has consistently released the best rock album of the year with their last two efforts – by a mile – and that will likely be no different here in 2018 on their twelfth record.


Book of Bad Decisions kicks off with a missile in ‘Gimme the Keys’ and concludes with the slower but equally as powerful ‘Lorelei’, which could be one of the greatest Clutch songs of all time. Fallon’s lyrics and vocals are mesmerising throughout while Tim Sult’s guitar almost sounds like Tony Iommi’s on the doom-tinged and bluesy ‘Spirit of 76′. You can actually hear a lot of classic Black Sabbath inspired sounds throughout the record, from Dan Maines’ Bass to Jean-Paul Gaster’s drums. Clutch have always sounded like they belonged in a different musical era than their current one but that’s why their songs sound so genuine and unlike anything else currently on the fading rock scene.

The production is crisp and genuinely representative of the band’s live sound thanks to Vance Powell who has worked with Jack White in the past. You can actually notice that connection right away and although it works, I will admit I miss Machine, who helped produce the last glorious Clutch album ‘Psychic Warfare’ in 2015. Hell — Machine produced Earth Rocker, Pure Rock Fury and Blast Tyrant as well – aka the best of the best for Clutch in my opinion. But — Powell tried something new with the crew and the sound although distinctly still Clutch, is just a little bit different than before. It’s less gritty but the energy is high and the band sounds fantastic, which means their recording sessions at Sputnik Sound in Nashville worked out for what the band wanted to accomplish. I’m apparently just hesitant to any change coming from a band that I’ve adored since I was a kid cranking their 1993 debut Transnational Speedway League.

clutch 2018

This album is going to translate incredibly well live and in person. The Book of Bad Decisions was designed with a concert in mind from front to back with catchy choruses and perhaps the most upbeat collection of songs that Clutch has ever assembled into one effort during their long and storied career. As a massive fan, I can’t tell you that this is their best album to date – because the past two releases have been their greatest works so far and following up those two monsters was going to be tough as nails… However, Clutch‘s Book of Bad Decisions is still a genuinely groovy and refreshing demonstration of what a real band, making real music can do in a world where these types of songs are nearly extinct.

Rating: [star rating=”4″]


1. Gimme the Keys
2. Spirit of ’76
3. Book of Bad Decisions
4. How to Shake Hands
5. In Walks Barbarella
6. Vision Quest
7. Weird Times
8. Emily Dickinson
9. Sonic Counselor
10. A Good Fire
11. Ghoul Wrangler
12. HB Is in Control
13. Hot Bottom Feeder
14. Paper & Strife
15. Lorelei

Clutch, Book of Bad Decisions Tour With Sevendust and Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown

Sept. 16 – Chicago IL – Riotfest **
Sept. 18 – St Paul, MN – Myth Live
Sept. 19 – Kansas City, MO – Uptown Theater
Sept. 21 – Houston TX – House of Blues
Sept. 22 – San Antonio TX – River City Rock Fest **
Sept. 23 – Dallas, TX – Gas Monkey Live
Sept. 25 – Orlando, FL – House Of Blues
Sept. 27 – Norfolk, VA – The NorVa
Sept. 28 – Raleigh, NC – The Ritz
Sept. 29 – Atlanta, GA – The Masquerade *
Sept. 30 – Louisville, KY – Louder Than Life **
Oct. 2 – Denver, CO – Ogden Theater
Oct. 3 – Salt Lake City, UT – The Depot
Oct. 5 – Boise, ID – Knitting Factory
Oct. 6 – Spokane, WA – Knitting Factory
Oct. 7 – Seattle, WA  Showbox SODO
Oct. 8 – Vancouver, BC – Commodore Ballroom
Oct. 9 – Portland, OR – Roseland Theater
Oct. 11 – San Francisco, CA – The Regency Ballroom
Oct. 12 – Los Angeles, CA – El Rey Theater
Oct. 13 – San Bernardino, CA – Glen Helen Amphitheater w/SOAD ***
Oct. 14 – San Diego, CA – North Park/Observatory
Oct. 15 – Tempe, AZ – The Marquee
Oct. 17 – Tulsa, OK – Cain’s Ballroom
Oct. 18 – Sauget, IL – Pop’s Nightclub
Oct. 19 – Grand Rapids, MI – 20 Monroe Live
Oct. 20 – Detroit, MI – The Filmore Detroit
Oct. 21 – Pittsburgh, PA – Stage AE
Oct. 23 – Toronto, ON – Rebel
Oct. 25 – Worcester, MA – The Palladium
Oct. 26 – New York, NY – Irving Plaza
Oct. 27 – New York, NY – Irving Plaza
Oct. 28 – Philadelphia, PA – Electric Factory
*= no Sevendust
** = festival date / Clutch and festival bill only
*** = date w/ System of a Down/ no Sevendust