Saturday, 3 February 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Fu Manchu - "Clone of the Universe"

By: Victor Van Ommen

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 09/02/2018
Label: At The Dojo Records

  "Clone of the Universe" is the twelfth example that there's only one Fu Manchu and this album is a great mix of the heavy, the fast, the slow and the riff.

“Clone of the Universe” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. "Intelligent Worship" (3:08)
2. "(I’ve Been) Hexed" (2:48)
3. "Don’t Panic" (2:05)
4. "Slower Than Light" (3:26)
5. "Nowhere Left to Hide" (4:19)
6. "Clone of the Universe" (2:58)
7. "IL Mostro Atomico" (18:08)

The Review:

Can you imagine an 18 minute song written and performed by Fu Manchu? Oh yeah, and it features the guitar escapades of none other than Rush's Alex Lifeson? Yeah, I couldn't either. That changed this week, though, when the kind people over at At The Dojo Records hooked us up with "Clone of the Universe," Fu Manchu's twelfth album. But we're getting ahead of ourselves here. This 18 minute epic, "Il Mostro Atomico" closes out the album. Let's start at the beginning.

From opener "Intelligent Worship" on, Fu Manchu knows what's up. Ripe with those stop-go riffs that only Fu Manchu can master, the band plays through these seven songs the only way they know how - thick on the fuzz, heavy on the low end, and loud as hell.

The stoned stomp of "(I've Been) Hexed" leaves its mark with both its riffs and its catchy chorus. Fu Manchu has always proven to be experts when it comes to those one-liner choruses, and "(I've Been) Hexed" is no different. In perfect call and response fashion, Hill proclaims "I've been Hexed" as the backing vocals take over, "I see it in your eyes." These lines get passed back and forth for a while, the drums go nuts, and those guitar solos wail. An absolute toe tapper, and once Fu Manchu hit the road in support of this album, "(I've Been) Hexed" is going to be a crowd favorite, too.

The album keeps its momentum going in o "Don't Panic." Again, a song that boasts a one-liner chorus - "Don't panic!" - and it's going to have stoner rockers far and wide bowing down at the feet of Fu Manchu party. The title track has the same effect, and even though not many of us can tell you what Hill means when he sings "Clone of the Universe," we can all agree that it sounds fucking cool, and that's all that fucking matters.

For the most part, Fu Manchu has made themselves a name by laying the groundwork for upbeat stoner rock. Each song of theirs makes a race for the chorus, rocks out a little, and is out within 4 minutes. This is part of what makes Fu Manchu so good; this band knows how to cluster quality and then land a punch with it. "Clone of the Universe" stays true to this formula, mostly.

Sure, these SoCal boys have had an 8 minute song here and there, but on this new record, Fu Manchu hits the eighteen minute mark. Alex Lifeson from Rush helps out in this experiment. The track's instrumental, mostly, and sounds like a mixture of a bunch of Fu Manchu riffs pasted together. The best part, it works. The riffs are great, the transitions are great, and the song builds in such a way that it starts without giving too much away. Even by the 10, 12 or 15 minute mark, the song still rocks hard and doesn't dip once.

In many ways, "Clone of the Universe" might be more familiar to those who grew up on Fu Manchu. The album's got that stoner rock rhythm that Fu Manchu made famous, thanks mostly to Brad Davis on bass guitar and drummer Scott Reeder. These two are locked in and make these tunes tumble down the road like a VW van with marijuana smoke billowing out of the windows.

"Clone of the Universe" is also an album that's determined to push the boundaries of the band's sound. The result is a great mix of the heavy, the fast, the slow and the riff. For Fu Manchu, "Clone of the Universe" is the twelfth example that there's only one Fu Manchu, and plenty of impersonators.

“Clone of the Universe” is available to buy on CD//DD//Vinyl via here 

Band info: Facebook || Bandcamp