Fu Manchu


Written by: BV on 12/09/2014 17:38:06

Without exaggerating all that much, it was honestly starting to look like Fu Manchu might just become the AC/DC or Motörhead of the stoner-rock scene. Having released groundbreaking and instantly recognizable albums throughout the 90’s – ultimately peaking with 2000’s “King of the Road”, Fu Manchu eventually settled into a rut where they continuously released albums that were neither groundbreaking, nor extraordinary – instead towering over the band’s discography as prime examples of formulaic music that was, in fact, quite decent but could have become something largely better. The return of Fu Manchu after an absence of five years, “Gigantoid”, is not entirely formulaic but has yet to retain their former glory.

As can be heard on album opener “Dimension Shifter”, some of the more memorable aspects of Fu Manchu are back, as “Dimension Shifter” carries grooves and hooks similar to the classic “Evil Eye”, while managing to morph into something reminiscent of a psychedelic instrumental jam. “Invaders On My Back”, however, showcases some of the band’s punk influences and condense them into a track that is far from the paranoid stoner-anxiety attack the title might initially imply – instead going for quite aggressive groove that yields relatively few, if any, psychedelic moments. Those moments are, however, quite plentiful on the following example of sheer groove – the aptly titled “Anxiety Reducer” which, with its sleazy riff stands as one of the few great highlights of the album.

The somewhat inspiring combination of their earlier punk influences, and their more groove oriented stoner rock approach doesn’t always quite work, though. “Mutant” is a bit off-putting altogether, with the quiet/loud dynamic being taken a bit too far, resulting in a rather bland expression. Equally so, “Radio Source Sagittarius” towers as a prime example of the wrongdoings on the previous, sub-par Fu Manchu records as it tries to get a great groove going but ultimately fails to lock both itself and the listener into said groove – even in spite of the relatively cool solo-section of the track.

Album closer “The Last Question” remains the prime example of the ambivalent expression of “Gigantoid”. Opening with a tremendous groove and catchiness seldom heard from latter-day Fu Manchu, the track gradually evolves into a pointless psychedelic pilgrimage which never fully reaches its final destination. It’s oddly fitting for “The Last Question” to both close the album and embody a condensed version of the album’s dynamics altogether. While my hopes were relatively high for this release, Fu Manchu of the latter-day remains a better live band than a songwriting one. However, the progress done on “Gigantoid” might still yield hope for the future. Only time can tell what it will turn into, really.


Download: Dimension Shifter, Anxiety Reducer
For The Fans Of: Vista Chino, Nebula, The Atomic Bitchwax
Listen: Facebook

Release date 29.04.2014
At the Dojo Recordings

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