Though you’ll find the album devoid of fresh-ass cowbell Fu Manchu remains absolutely recognizable as the band that put out ‘No One Rides For Free’ back in 1994. Much of that is owed to Scott Hills’ clear and present vocal style and fuzzed out stoner rock riffs. The real peak of this band’s style for me personally was ‘In Search Of…’ and in many ways ‘Clone of the Universe’ reminds me of that album. Though I always felt the heavier side of Fu Manchu left once Nebula took off, and I still like ‘Charged’ more than most Fu Manchu, they’ve crossed back into heavier guitar sounds on their more recent output.
Nebula took those heavier ideas and shook them up a bit while Fu Manchu really sought to refine and polish thier songwriting without any major changes. It wasn’t until 2009’s ‘Signs of Infinite Power’ that the band turn a small corner back towards the doom-lite stoner rock stuff. Though I want to stress that these are really small observations in general, the band has really never changed their sound drastically. Their 2014 album was really different, with songs I’d never have expected like “Invaders on My Back” and the very heavy “Triplanetary”. ‘Clone of the Universe’ continues in that style but the whole album seems eager to get beyond the first twenty minutes and get right to the final 18 minute jam that is “Il Mostro Atomico”.
All of the songs leading up to their four part B-side opus reminded me of Fu Manchu circa 1996 and the extended final song surprised me. It features Alex Lifeson of Rush and evolves into a massive stoner jam session that feels a lot like grandiose future forecasting for the band. They could put out 2-3 of these tracks and call it an album and make folks like me pretty happy. Granted it is entirely instrumental, so the first half of the album is entirely necessary. Though I felt like the A side feels like another time and space entirely once “Il Mostro Atomico” is over. Overall a great record with a few surprises from a stoner rock’s oldest and most consistent group.
|Released||February 9, 2018|
|Preview the title track on Spotify||Order From Fu Manchu’s Official Website|
Don’t panic! 3.0/5.0
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