First the first time in a long time, “I’ve Been Hexed” by the brand new Fu Manchu album.
Clone of the Universe sounds cut from the same cloth as classic albums such as King of the Road and The Action is Go. Aside from the mind-bomb that is the 18 minute track “Il Mostro Atomico”, each song is short, riffy and to the point. “(I’ve Been) Hexed” is an immediate thumbs-up, a reminder of what we liked about Fu Manchu when we first heard them.
You can’t tell if “Don’t Panic” has anything to do with Douglas Adams, but it’s as fast and relentless as the UFO-themed “King of the Road”. Maybe the Sabbath-crawl of “Slower Than Light” is also about space travel; maybe it’s not. The fun is in the guessing, but by the end the song is at moving at warp. Both “Nowhere Left to Hide” and “Intelligent Worship” boast riffs carved from the stones of Mt. Iommi, contained with in the Fu Manchu groove. The title track “Clone of the Universe” is like a heavy metal hammer, or a stoner rock Mjölnir.
Despite the strong Fu Manchu grooves throughout, it is undoubtedly the side-long “Il Mostro Atomico” that is the centerpiece. Suddenly from somewhere left of center comes the “Snow Dog”; Alex Lifeson of Rush with his own style of lead guitar. Lifeson always had a knack for finding cool artists to work with outside his normal sphere. Hearing him rip and make noise with Fu Manchu is so right. Not to mention, this jam which keeps going on and on has plenty to offer when you listen all the way through.
Clear winners: “(I’ve Been) Hexed”, “Il Mostro Atomico”.