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Metal Monday will be spending New Year’s Eve with the love of his life in Worcester, MA of all places. While not as extravagant as Vegas or NYC or some other exotic locale, Worcester is where Maryland’s Clutch will be simultaneously ending their 2012 and beginning their 2013. As luck would have it, I’ll be there to witness the glory (Show review coming later in the week).

My love affair with Clutch began after seeing the video for “A Shogun Named Marcus” on Headbanger’s Ball hosted by Riki Rachtman oh so many years ago causing me to run out and buy Transnational Speedway League almost immediately. I was hooked by the gritty sounds and vocalist Neil Fallon’s nonsensical rants about everything from trucks to rodents to shoguns.

In 1995 they almost lost me when their self-titled sophomore album was released. This definitely was not the same band that put out TSLĀ and although songs like “Animal Farm” had that same drive found on their earlier EP’s and debut, something had changed. There was more melody, more clean vocals, more blues, and less speed. 1995 also happened to be the year I first saw Clutch live and it was a saving grace. They were at Mama Kin on Lansdowne St opening for Marilyn Manson of all bands. I remember anxiously awaiting for them to come on when some guy next to me leaned over and started raving about how awesome Clutch was and how fucking phenomenal drummer Jean-Paul Gaster was. They opened with “Spacegrass” off of Clutch and I was hooked for life. Live, the songs from that album were so organic and I finally understood what it was about. Fallon was like a preacher on songs like “7 Jam” and Dan Maines’ bass playing was and is still unparalleled (Fun fact: When I first picked up a bass in college, I immediately taught myself how to play “Big News” and “Tim Sult Vs The Greys”). Add Tim Sult’s guitar grooves and Clutch is unstoppable.

Since then, I’ve seen Clutch a lot. I saw them open for Life Of Agony the following year. I’ve seen them multiple times at the Palladium over the years. I’ve seen them perform Clutch in its entirety at Boston’s House Of Blues and then at the same venue again a few years later when they absolutely blew Motorhead away as an opener. I saw them as part of the “Sounds Of The Underground” tour. Hell, I’ve even seen them when they appeared at Bonnaroo in 2007. Each time they’ve only gotten better so a New Year’s Eve show with their 10th studio album on the horizon (Earth Rocker due in March) is the perfect way to end my 2012 and start my 2013. Hope y’all have some good plans as well.

Thanks for reading in 2012. Stay tuned for more metal throughout 2013. As always, on Monday.

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