Full Fathom Five

I sometimes imagine a large, impenetrable vault in which Clutch guitarist Tim Sult hides his endless arsenal of riffs. Stacked like bundles of money, he pulls out a handful every couple of years when the band enters the studio. Of course, more than a few of those sinewy little gems are influenced by the likes of Jimmy Page and Ritchie Blackmore, but they’ve served Sult and his band well for nearly two decades. Recorded and filmed live in late 2007 and early 2008, Full Fathom Five captures the Maryland four-piece in its element, getting sweaty in a room full of (mostly) hairy-faced male disciples. But Clutch isn’t just another testosterone-fueled metal band blindly ranting about current affairs. Vocalist Neill Fallon has always had a gift for delivering sardonic tales steeped more in fiction than reality, his characters taking on many forms in songs like “The Yeti” and The Dragonfly” from 1998’s The Elephant Riders. Live, the band takes on a different tone—Fallon’s vocals have more soul, less growl, while stoner riffs are drawn out into occasional jams. Yes, “jam” can be an ugly word—but when it’s in the hands of four Zep-loving dudes from Maryland, it is quite stunning.