Fu Manchu – Clone of the Universe (At the Dojo)

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Considering that they’ve probably smoked the equivalent of a small country’s worth of weed in their lifetime, California stoner rock masters Fu Manchu have somehow managed to get to their twelfth studio album.  Sure there have been line up changes over the years and some damn good musicians have come and gone, but the ever present Scott Hill has been playing with these guys since the early noughties and longer now and although I think there has been something of lull in quality, in recent years, Clone Of The Universe may change that.

A frantic upbeat intro, on opening track Slower than Light-perhaps a nod to their punk roots, quickly dissolves into that familiar Fu Manchu groove, which comes as second nature to Hill and the boys. This continues with the catchy (I’ve Been) Hexed a future live favourite surely? Don’t Panic is another upbeat number with those punk undertones again, before the pace really slows for the tripped out Slower Than Light. Not that I advocate this sort of behaviour, but I believe this maybe one of those tracks that the listener would benefit more from, if partaking in some of the old herbal refreshment.  It’s everything we expect from a Fu Manchu record, fuzzed out guitars, layered vocals. But then there’s more. The real curve ball on this album comes in the form of last track Il Mostro Atomico. An 18 minute epic (stay with me) divided into 4 individual parts and featuring none other than Alex Lifeson from prog-rock gods Rush. Lifeson’s participation aside, this is  the heaviest I’ve ever heard Fu Manchu, as they venture into doom territory, but it’s also the most experimental I’ve heard them and I’m happy to announce that it works well. It’s a Fu Manchu record Jim, but not as we know it....Chris Andrews

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