Clutch, in their 25 years of making southern-influenced psychedelic rock, have never been an act to be taken lightly. Neil Fallon alone is an unmitigated presence, his throaty growl of a voice spitting pure rock fury while dominating a stage, large or small.
The Psychic Warfare tour, in support of the titular album, has made its way from New York all the way around the US and will end in Massachusetts in just a few short days (the bands are playing in Madison, Wisconsin tonight, so go if you can!). Alongside these earth rockers are Zakk Sabbath, the Black Sabbath tribute band led by former Ozzy Osbourne alum and current Black Label Society mastermind Zakk Wylde, and LA-based Kyng bringing an alternative-style, grunge-influenced brand of hard rock with just a pinch of stoner for good measure.
There’s something to be said about Zakk Sabbath that could either be a huge plus or a massive turn-off depending on who you are. Zakk Sabbath is an interesting tribute band, since Zakk Wylde, though a former Ozzy Osbourne solo venture member, has massive respect for one of the grandfathers of heavy metal. It is, however, unclear how much he truly loves the band, as there might be too much Zakk in this Black. Though the three-piece tribute plays the majority of the set straight, right down to the classic riffs, Zakk Wylde adds his signature flair to the music, complete with a mediocre pentatonic solo for eight minutes in the middle of “War Pigs” as he wanders deep into the crowd for that live experience you just can’t get on record. Whether that’s your bag is your business, but it feels like a huge disservice to an already lengthy song. This wasn’t the only instance of Zakk Wylde being Zakk Wylde, but absolutely one of the most noticeable and unnecessary ones during the Chicago stop of the tour. That’s not to say that project isn’t without its own charms, as at one point, the act was joined on stage by Clutch drummer Jean-Paul Gaster for a hard-hitting double snare section on the ending of “Supernaut.” The tribute band just feels like less of a tribute band and more of Zakk Wylde trying to inject too much of his own style over songs audiences already know and love. Again, that might be something you’re into, but it feels dishonest to do it to Black Sabbath’s music. One thing’s for sure, though—Zakk Wylde knows how to put on a show.
No gripes here about Clutch and Kyng, though. Both bands were absolutely flawless in their performances. You can grab images from all three acts below!
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