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Fu Manchu - 'Clone Of The Universe' Album Review


1. Intelligent Worship 2. (I’ve Been) Hexed 3. Don’t Panic 4. Slower Than Light 5. Nowhere Left To Hide 6. Clone Of The Universe 7. IL Mostro Atomico

Fu Manchu have been around for a while and gone through a lot of line-up changes (although the current line-up has been stable since 2001)... in a way their history is similar to that of 'Corrosion Of Conformity', in that they started out life in the mid 80's as a Hardcore Punk band before evolving to their current sonic identity over the subsequent decades.

Sonically harking back to that glorious noisy buzzy late 80's early 90's American alternative scene 'Clone Of The Universe' is an album that gives me a warm nostalgia for a less polished time when money was a factor in the equipment used by the bands of the day and not everyone had a Jackson guitar, an Ibanez Tubescreamer and a Mesa Boogie amp. Music whose sonic hallmark is not just the playing (which is first rate here of course) but the (originally) lower budget equipment it was made with.

Musically it is everything one would hope for from a band of such a heritage, there are fast punky numbers which bristle with energy here side by side with more lugubrious fare playing with the idea of the space between the beats in a fairly pleasing way.

The album opens with the crisp riffage of "Intelligent Worship" a strong opener drawing the listener in with a powerful tune with buzzy guitar tones that remind this early 90's throwback of Mudhoney in all the best ways possible. "(I've Been) Hexed" features some crazed lead playing from Bob Balch while the breakneck pace of "Don't Panic" points musically at their Hardcore Punk roots. At this time things slow down a tad, 'Slower Than Light' and 'Nowhere Left To Hide' are playful dirges in all the best ways. The title cut 'Clone Of The Universe' is perhaps the tune I would have expected to be the lead single if that were this band's modus operandi. The last track "Il Mostro Atomico" is an interesting and slow burning tune, certainly taking in a variety of moods over it's 18 minutes and as mentioned this track also features input from Alex Lifeson formerly of Rush, a grand, ambitious and expertly realised closer to an album that sonically took me down memory lane as well as through some interesting new neighbourhoods too.

As a whole this album is well worth a look for fans of the fuzzy Hardcore Punk-Sludge Rock blend, the guest spot by a Prog-Rock icon is most unusual but certainly doesn't distract the band from their roots.

Review - Mike McLaughlin

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