Fu Manchu – Clone Of The Universe – At the Dojo Records

31 years into their career, So-Cal veteran act Fu Manchu dropped their 12th record this week, Clone Of The Universe, on the band’s own At The Dojo Records.

4 years after the remarkable Gigantoid, We find the fuzz rockers delivering the goods once again.

If nothing else, Fu Manchu is a consistent band. Much like AC/DC, The Stones or even Iron Maiden before them, you don’t find them straying too much from the path they carved for themselves. This record is no exception. In part…
You don’t expect the San Clemente, CA quartet to throw a wrench in the gears or do left turns a la Melvins. Years after years they delivered masterful takes on 70’s rock, 80’s hardcore and punk and riffs, riffs, riffs. Riffs until the end of time.

Their fuzzed out sound is forever tied to the beach bum images of dudes in surfer regalia, Dogtown skateboarders and El Caminos doing burn outs on drag strips of beautiful, warm, sun drenched California.

The first half of this record is exactly that. And I don’t say this in a bad way. Those of us who dig the Fu, really dig the the Fu’s. I’m one of them. Ever since the mid-90’s I have been on board, and this record is no exception. It’s Fucking great Dude !
The first half is filled to the brim with 3-minute bursts of down-tuned guitars in mollase tick fuzz from Mr. Hill, over the top guitar solos from Mr. Balch , cryptic lyrics about space, otherworldly psychedelia, interplanetary custom vans, heavy bass and expert drumming (the rhythm section of Scott Reeder and Brad Davis is on full display here). Stand-outs among a superb side A are( I’ve Been) Hexed, the mellow, psychedelic Slower Than Light and opener Intelligent Worship, It’s the classic Fu Manchu sound. Again, consistent.
Where they do start to stretch things out, in a very very cool way, is the closing track of Il Mostro Atomico, in all it’s almost 19-minute glory. (yes, 19 minutes). This is where things get very, very interesting. They enlisted help from a certain Alex Lifeson (of Canadian Prog giants Rush) on guitar, to help carve what will be remembered as a unique entity (so far) in Fu Manchu’s catalogue. Mr. Lifeson, no stranger to sidelong epics himself, adds in his special brand of guitar acrobatics and guitar pedal effects wizardly to what is a superb song of monstrous proportions. It starts slow, builds up for a while, and then Boom, it’s full-on.

It’s really great, doesn’t feel strained or like a guest that overstayed its welcome. Not one bit. It flows well, it’s a voyage of heavy fuzz and droned-out psychedelia, all rolled into one tasty king sized joint.

Grateful for Grammy

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The track is almost instrumental, save for a few seconds of cryptic lyrics (light the throttle, Light the Throttle). Scott Hill once said lyrics are almost an afterthought, or running gags between band members and that those seeking answers, should look elsewhere, but if you are looking for riffs, fun, and power, you got it right here. Fu Manchu is back, and they mean it.
The only cruel thing about a new Fu Manchu record in February, at least for us Canadians, is that we can’t just take out our skateboards, and go rip some tricks. Not yet at least. But then again, this record is so filled with the California warmth that the Fu’s are associated with, that I’m sure if played loud enough with open widows, this record could actually melt snow.