FU MANCHU « Clone Of The Universe » (At The Dojo Records 2018)

Written by Album Review

The wait is over! Fu Manchu’s twelfth studio album has finally come out as the follow-up to 2014’s « Gigantoid » which, let’s be honest, had left me hungry for more. The Californian are back at the best of their art, the Advanced Applied Riffology mastered by just a few outfits, enough to remain among the outright cornerstones after twenty years of career.

Fu Manchu is not a stoner rock nor a desert rock band, they don’t fit in any box (I mean, have you ever caught them singing about weed or cactuses? Case closed). Fu Manchu are a Rock band who doesn’t care about what the fans or critics are expecting from them. This may be the reason why they’re still around and each one of their releases is so eagerly awaited, twenty-four years after their seminal debut « No One Rides For Free ». This new album « Clone of The Universe » is no exception, as well as the finest example of everything I just said above. 

The first lesson from the Riff Masters will go through six chapters, aiming for deciphering their influences and enlightening us avid listeners about their songcraft. They kick off with one of their unalterable features: power chords played so repetitively by the rhythm section, and laying the foundations of their sound – we simply call it THE Riff. Since their beginnings, the Californian foursome has always had the same consistent songwriting, experiencing and embellishing The Riff through endless jams, until the final outcome: a song that kicks major ass.

From « Intelligent Worship » to my fave track « Clone of The Universe », they keep finding the perfect balance between hefty, distorted guitars riding at the speed of sound (slower than light then), suddenly slowing down more abruptly than an emergency braking. Once the drift is fully controlled, the psychedelic takeoff blows up just like a sonic firework.

‘But I don’t see any applied sciences here?’ you say. Hell, listen to the lyrics, man! Haven’t your noticed that, twenty-four years later, Fu Manchu are still influenced by the 70s, sci-fi, good fun, and well, that you won’t always draw a literal meaning from their words. Stop looking for the meaning behind all of the words the Great Riff Masters are writing…  

Now that we’re done with the first lesson, time to get properly not serious. The second part of the record is made one sole element: « Il Mostro Atomico ». When reading that, you may think it’s a filler, maybe they’re taking the piss or getting lazy. Absolutely NOT. If you listen to it, you’ll notice that they invited a special guest on one of the song’s four movements: Fu Manchu’s idol and Rush’s iconic guitarist Alex Lifeson. This epic offering made of riff outtakes from unreleased songs shows the band’s urge to give way to experimentations and jamming, with as guitar parts from one of the most respected musicians of the 70s as the icing on the cake.

Once you’ve finally tamed the 18-minute epic, it will feel way too short and so addictive that you will wonder why such jams can’t be found in nowadays’ records. So now here’s the obvious answer to your question: you just took part to the biggest Riff lesson from the greatest band of all Rock bands. Often copied but never bettered, they will never care of others. « Clone of the Universe »: worshipped by The Lords.

ALBUM: « Clone Of The Universe »
RELEASED: 9th February 2017
LABEL: At The Dojo Records
GENRE: Fu Manchu
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Last modified: 16 février 2018