Feedback: Reflecting on September 2022 Releases

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Clutch — “Sunrise on Slaughter Beach” released Sept. 16

In the opening track “Red Alert (Boss Metal Zone),” vocalist Neil Fallon sings “The greatest living science fiction writer in the world / You’re looking at him.” Although he isn’t referring to himself, he may have a point. Clutch’s latest album is chock-full of vivid and clever lyrics which spin immersive tales over a hefty yet atmospheric soundtrack. 

From being accused of witchcraft on the Mayflower in “Nosferatu Madre” to the pondering of horseshoe crabs in “Slaughter Beach,” Clutch is still full of stories to tell. “Sunrise on Slaughter Beach,” however, takes a slightly more experimental approach than the last few albums. This album feels like the logical next step in Clutch’s hard rock trajectory, but fresher than expected.

Hooks and big choruses abound on this record. The earworm riffs are paired with memorable lines, such as “We deliver where Kneivel failed / What’s a little bit of tetanus?” in the song “We Strive for Excellence.” There are also moments of poetic poignancy, such as “Like Adam and Eve / in springtime before the fall” in the song “Jackhammer Our Names,” the somber closing track about the transgressions of past leaders which are left for those in the present to clean up.

There is a balance of bangers and slower tracks which allow the listener to go on a journey, resulting in the album having a sense of completeness. There are songs like “Mountain of Bone,” which create an environment of its own through the hypnotic guitar part that bookends the intro and outro. 

“Sunrise on Slaughter Beach” also sounds excellent, and passed the test of being blasted through my car’s speakers with flying colors. The production packs a punch while allowing each instrument to come through clearly. It is also a perfect length: nine tracks in 33 minutes. 

Mindforce — “New Lords” released Sept. 16

Mindforce have managed to put out another crossover masterclass with “New Lords.” 

This band has had an incredible ascension since their 2018 LP “Excalibur,” and it seems like Mindforce will continue to slash through obstacles and continue their reign with “New Lords.”

Guitarist Mike Shaw dishes out a plethora of awesome licks, but blink and you’ll miss them. True to their thrash influence, there are no moments of chill on “New Lords.” Mindforce keeps charging ahead as vocalist Jay Peta delivers the usual battle cry — reminiscing on a dangerous past, calling out foes and spearheading the quest to rise above it all. 

“New Lords” has no shortage of tracks that are sure to stir up the crowd. A significant part of the magic of “Excalibur” was its sing-along quality, with rousing hooks and kickbox-inducing breakdowns. “New Lords” continues this tradition with tracks like “Words Fail,” “Thirteen and Mean,” “Instant Karma,” and the ode to Hudson Valley, “Outcasts of the Empire.”

Regulate — “Hair” released Sept. 21

“Hair” is the third single from the upcoming Regulate self-titled LP dropping Sept. 30. While all of the singles have had a touch of elements not conventional to Regulate’s typical brand of hardcore, “Hair” pushes the boundaries of that classification the most.

The upcoming album will be released on Flatspot Records and was produced, engineered, mixed and mastered by Jon Markson. Musically, “Hair” sounds like a track that is right in Markson’s wheelhouse, as he frequently works with bands such as Drug Church, Soul Blind and Koyo.

The chorus of “Hair” is ridiculously catchy and well-written. It’s a major reason why “Hair” grew on me after a few listens, pun intended. The verses carry a groove which makes the song more dynamic, contrasting the explosive chorus. The lyrics are intriguing as well – dealing with acceptance of one’s true self. While this vulnerability is not unusual for Regulate, it takes on a new light amidst this sonic style. Another aspect as to why this song works is that vocalist Sebastian Paba is a good singer, and that should not get overlooked.

“Hair” is carried by a soaring high-energy rather than a frenetic one and so I am curious as to how it will fit in with the rest of the album. Based on the other two singles, “Hair” will fit in just fine. It combines the melodic aspect of “In the Moment” and the loose bridge of “Why Can’t We” to create a song which achieves exactly what Regulate are aiming for.

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