Clone Of The Universe

At The Dojo
rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. Intelligent Worship
02. (I've Been) Hexed
03. Don't Panic
04. Slower Than Light
05. Nowhere Left To Hide
06. Clone Of The Universe
07. Il Mostro Atomico

FU MANCHU is synonymous with stoner rock. The group is rightfully revered as one of the genre's most significant bands. Following its inception as a hardcore punk act, the band slid into a groove, literally and figuratively, and has continued onward with energetic hard rock that's as potent as the residue at the bottom of a bong. The Californian unit has been plugging away for over a quarter of a century, and its 12th album, "Clone Of The Universe", suggests it's going to continue to hightail its way down the hazy highway.

Lineup instability was the norm during the first half of the band's career. Fuzz legends Brant Bjork (KYUSS/MONDO GENERATOR) and Eddie Glass (NEBULA) even served time with the group of heshers. But a consistent crew solidified itself around the new millennium's onset. Kingpin and sole original member Scott Hill (vocals/guitar) is joined by Bob Balch (guitar),Brad Davis (bass) and Scott Reeder (drums). The unit has been operating like a well-oiled machine ever since. That isn't to say that it wasn't prolific in the beginning, though. There is indeed something to be said of FU MANCHU's tenacity and endurance.

The quartet's upbeat, feel-good take on BLACK SABBATH bombast still resides at its foundation, but it has drifted toward sculpting surreal, mind-bending rockers in recent years with an increasing thematic focus upon outer space and science fiction. "Clone of the Universe" stays the course on all fronts. FU MANCHU immediately revs the engines up with the high-octane surge of "Intelligent Worship" as it embarks upon its latest journey into space. The unit lays off the thrusters once its pierced the stratosphere with the creeping, crawling and equally groovy follow-up track, " (I've Been) Hexed".

The ensemble is reliable, and listeners know, more or less, what to expect. But depending on who you ask, that isn't necessarily always a good thing. With that said, just when you think you know the end of the story, FU MANCHU throws a curveball with the absolutely epic, 18-minute finale: "Il Mostro Atomico". While the group wades through familiar waters on the first six tracks that represent the first half—or "side" of the album, as it were—the final track essentially represents "side two" with a distinctly out of character approach.

Moving at a zombie-marching, sludge-dripping pace, FU MANCHU colors the album's second half with prog sensibilities. Featuring RUSH's guitar legend, Alex Lifeson, the song is cut into four parts, and the marathon is interesting from beginning to end. The ambitious song is essentially an instrumental considering that Hill's vocals only drop in for less than a minute. The tried and true fuzz underpinnings remain throughout yet fade to the back as the song progresses through a psychedelic universe free from FU MANCHU's regular, self-imposed boundaries. "Il Mostro Atomico" stands out as one of the most unique expressions of FU MANCHU's career. It's a bold move proving that FU MANCHU isn't just a one trick pony, and that the group can keep you on your toes when you least expect it, just when you thought you had them figured out. Perhaps the band's next effort won't be so predictable after all.

Author: Jay H. Gorania
  • facebook
  • twitter
  • reddit
  • email

Comments Disclaimer And Information

BLABBERMOUTH.NET uses the Facebook Comments plugin to let people comment on content on the site using their Facebook account. The comments reside on Facebook servers and are not stored on BLABBERMOUTH.NET. To comment on a BLABBERMOUTH.NET story or review, you must be logged in to an active personal account on Facebook. Once you're logged in, you will be able to comment. User comments or postings do not reflect the viewpoint of BLABBERMOUTH.NET and BLABBERMOUTH.NET does not endorse, or guarantee the accuracy of, any user comment. To report spam or any abusive, obscene, defamatory, racist, homophobic or threatening comments, or anything that may violate any applicable laws, use the "Report to Facebook" and "Mark as spam" links that appear next to the comments themselves. To do so, click the downward arrow on the top-right corner of the Facebook comment (the arrow is invisible until you roll over it) and select the appropriate action. You can also send an e-mail to blabbermouthinbox(@)gmail.com with pertinent details. BLABBERMOUTH.NET reserves the right to "hide" comments that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate and to "ban" users that violate the site's Terms Of Service. Hidden comments will still appear to the user and to the user's Facebook friends. If a new comment is published from a "banned" user or contains a blacklisted word, this comment will automatically have limited visibility (the "banned" user's comments will only be visible to the user and the user's Facebook friends).