Despite thinking I was in tune with most of the heavy hitters in Italy’s beyond-fertile rock and roll underground, I had never heard of The Clamps, a power trio from Bergamo, a city that gave the world one of my all-time favorite and first wave stoner rock bands, El Thule. The Clamps, who are releasing their third LP Megamouth, and second in a row through Roma’s Heavy Psych Sounds, a label that goes without saying is at the vanguard of global stoner rock, let fly with a fuzzed-up, raucous, punk-tinged take on the genre, pretty much like their fellow Bergamo residents, the aforementioned El Thule. To this reviewers old, grizzled ears, listening to Megamouth one can hear all sorts of influences, particularly from the late ‘90s and early ‘00s.
Witness the opening instrumental title track, Megamouth, the fuzz, guitar melodies and rhythmic thrust instantly reminded me of early Dozer, or modern Greenleaf, depending on how one hears it, yet with a more rock and roll bent. The album then really proceeds to blast open with Forty-Nine which instantly conjures up the garage rock and roll of early Hellacopters, but heavier, and grimier, whereas Freedom To Run (Down) had me feeling Coup De Grace era Orange Goblin vibes.
One of the things that had me going through my mental stoner rock rolodex whilst absorbing Megamouth was just who vocalist/guitarist Ben (despite some research, I couldn’t readily find the band members last names) sounds like. It ate at me as I spun this record, but I will come back around to that. Up next we have Bill Jenkins, an ode to the legendary drag racer, which sounds exactly what you’d expect a song about a famous drag racer to sound like. Driving, d-beat pummeling conjuring up Zeke but chunkier and fuzzier. The late ‘90s garage punk and roll vibe is ever present throughout the track, again calling me back to those early Hellacopters records.
First single Blood premiered right here on The Sleeping Shaman and keeps the ripping, stoner punk vibes going, and it was on this track that it finally hit me who Ben reminds me of vocally; he sounds like a filthy version of Alabama Thunderpussy’s original vocalist Johnny Throckmorton, crossed with The Dukes Of Nothing’s Tony Sylvester. As I mentioned, there’s a whole lotta first wave stoner rock energy circulating throughout Megamouth on tracks like Blood, but more so deeper cuts like Raze The Land and Bombs, both giving off Alabama Thunderpussy energy, a band I listened to the shit out of in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s.
This record is all at once a rumbling, fuzzy, punk and roll clinic, and a total throwback to some of those late ‘90s and early ‘00’s stoner bands…
Another instrumental, CuboMedusa has the weight and fuzz of Fu Manchu, or late ‘90s Corrosion of Conformity, but more menacing in its delivery. Elsewhere, Roll Back The Years is a rip-roaring stoner punk rave up, while closer is Slippin’ Away, is a fuzzed-up, riff and roll rumbler that brings Megamouth to an emphatic close.
I had a blast with The Clamps and Megamouth. This record is all at once a rumbling, fuzzy, punk and roll clinic, and a total throwback to some of those late ‘90s and early ‘00’s stoner bands. The energy is very Motörhead, very motor-oil stained, and I for one usually welcome this take on the genre.
It also goes without saying that Italy is just teeming with heavy, riffed-up bands, so much so that I’d place the country just a notch behind the UK and Sweden as the leaders in European underground heavy rock and roll. The Clamps had me smiling and head banging the entire time I was blasting Megamouth, and this album turned out to be a really fun, and a rockin’ way to kick off the new year.
Scribed by: Matthew Williams