Clutch Grasps First Top Rock Albums No. 1 With 'Psychic Warfare'

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Cover art for Clutch's album "Psychic Warfare."

The Maryland rockers also gain their second Hard Rock Albums No. 1 and best Billboard 200 rank.

More than two decades into its career, Clutch claims its first No. 1 on Billboard's Top Rock Albums chart (dated Oct. 24), as Psychic Warfare starts with a new personal-best 26,000 sold, according to Nielsen Music.

The LP passes Clutch's previous best rank and weekly sales: Earth Rocker opened at No. 6 with 22,000 (April 6, 2013). 

The new set also marks the band's best Billboard 200 standing (No. 11) and starts as its second No. 1 on Hard Rock Albums, following Earth Rocker.

For Clutch frontman Neil Fallon, the news comes as vindication for the toil he and the band put in, especially in recent years. Since 2009's Strange Cousins From the West, the Maryland four-piece has released music on its own independent label, Weathermaker. "It definitely validates a lot of hard work," Fallon tells Billboard. "And, of course, you have to thank your fans for being there through it all.

"We're a small, small fish in a giant ocean."

After having been a major label-signed act in the '90s (beginning with 1998's The Elephant Riders, on Columbia), Fallon said labels were often "an antagonist," and the chart success of the band, and Weathermaker, stems from "partnerships with really good people."

Clutch's new release coincides with several tour dates. Fallon spoke to Billboard in the midst of a U.S. trek whose first leg runs through Oct. 31 in New Orleans before heading to Europe in November. A brief Australian tour is planned for March 2016. All dates are here.

Clutch bests other tried-and-true elder statesmen on the Top Rock Albums chart, including Sevendust, which opens at No. 2 (its best Top Rock Albums peak) with sales of 18,000 for Kill the Flaw. Trivium's Silence in the Snow (No. 3, 17,000), Collective Soul's See What You Started by Continuing (No. 4, 14,000; also No. 1 on Alternative Albums) and Queensryche's Condition Human (No. 5, 14,000) follow.

Other top 10 debuts on Top Rock Albums include supergroup the Winery Dogs (consisting of Mike Portnoy, Billy Sheehan and Richie Kotzen), with Hot Streak (No. 6, 13,000, the band's best showing yet); California rockers New Years Day, with Malevolence (No. 9, 10,000); and singer-songwriter Matt Nathanson, with Show Me Your Fangs (No. 10, 9,000).