December 16, 2011 by Dan Swinhoe
In the wake of Clutch’s transition towards a more blues-based sound, the member’s other bands are starting to sound more like classic Clutch than the authentic thing are. The Bakerton Group are Clutch sans vocals, Neil Fallon and his Company Band have taken the pure rock fury and aimed it towards the corporations, while Tim Sult and Lionize have taken the funky groove and fastened to a reggae sound and created one of the most special bands going today.
Altpress have christened Lionize ‘Boogie-Dub’, and it’s hard to argue with them. The hoe-down riffs, blues organ, and overall Clutch vibe mixed with the Kingston rhythms are an awesome mix that demands to be listened and enjoyed. ‘Superczar and the Vulture’ is the group’s second album this year, and though I missed the release of ‘Destruction Manuel’ (Lionize aren’t exactly press mainstays, they don’t even have a Wiki page) I don’t remember them being quite as rocky. It seems either constant touring with a number of rock and metal bands has rubbed off and/or producer J. Robbins is responsible for the slight rock realignment. Having worked on a fair few Clutch albums, it seems he brought that warm production and that ‘nothing is off limits’ approach to songwriting.
What makes this record so impressive its ability to fuse the two styles in any way they fancy.’Trustafarian’ easily bounces between slow Jamaican beats and a full on rock jam over six minutes, and every song jumps from left to right without ever losing coherence. There’s not a weak track on here. From ‘Parlor Tricks’ to ‘Flying With Vultures’, every track rocks and rolls and dares you to press repeat. ‘Self Propelled Experience Approximator’ is a loose jam that just slips into the next track, and the whole album feels like a record that’s alive. When they turn up the Reggae, it has an eerie effect, ‘Dr. Livingston’ or ‘The Ballad of Ronnie Buttons’ are bouncy but morose. While on the flipside the rock has a kind of boogie that makes you want to get up and dance, think ‘From Beale Street to Oblivion’ era Clutch jamming away to their heart’s content. There’s even a drum solo on ‘Vessels’.
There has to be a special mention for Nate Bergman. His melodic, soulful vocals are the glue that hold the album together. He’s got an impressive range and carries the mood of each song perfectly. Lyrically too he holds his own, Neil Fallon would be proud of the lexical left turns (“It’s impossible to die, on groundhog day“) and quirky song titles he achieves. Oh, the song titles. The winner (and easily best of the year) is ‘Walking Away (From Explosions Unscathed)’, but the likes of ‘Shameless Self Promoter’ and ‘Self Propelled Experience Approximator’ deserve a mention. Genius.
It’s nice to find a band that has no hype around it, yet can deliver something as self-assured and enjoyable as this. It’s even more impressive to think they’ve managed to write two albums in one year. It gets old waiting years for a follow-up to a decent album doesn’t it? With Clutch not making any sound on when the next record will drop, The Company Band and Lionize are filling the void just as capably.
In a subgenre of one, and the only competition for ‘Boogie-Dub album of the year’ coming from the album they released in the spring, Lionize are ahead of the game. Buy this album, forget it’s winter and dance yourself warm like the Caribbean heat. Easily one of the best records of 2011.
Lionize Spotify playlist: