Thursday, September 30, 2004

33 and a 1/3

Posted by Hello
Fu Manchu-
Start the Machine (Sept. 2004)
The popular musical malaise of the late 1980’s slowed with the rise of Jane’s Addiction and their popular Lollapalooza tour. Alternative music was now ready to be marketed and fed to the masses. The successful marketing of Alternative music to Generation X led to commercial radio accepting and playing hard rock for the first time since the 70’s. You couldn’t turn on the radio or MTV without hearing bands like Metallica, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains. As often happens when bands become rock stars their music suffers. Metallica’s Black Album is the proof of this theory. While James and Lars were listening to Oasis a new trend in hard rock was forming in garages and basements in California and New Jersey. Bands like Monster Magnet and Kyuss started playing Black Sabbath/Stooges influenced metal quickly dubbed Stoner-Metal.

One of the best and most influential bands to come from the Stoner-Metal scene was Fu Manchu. Fu Manchu was formed in Southern California in 1990. I bought Daredevil in 1995 but didn’t start to fully appreciate Fu Manchu until seeing them on their In Search of Tour in 1996. I filled my dig dug and set off to the Starfish Room in Vancouver. I can’t remember the opening act but can remember 75-100 stoners with blood shot eyes banging their heads. Fu Manchu's sound was great with highlights like “Asphalt Risin’,” and “Strato Streak,” rocking at full volume. The stage show wasn’t too exciting but Scott Hill (guitar, vocals) and Brad Davis (bass, vocals) had the fans stoked with a tight, sludgy fucking loud sound. Since the show I have purchased a few more CD’s and have none have matched the genius of In Search of. Each CD seemed to have a few great tunes and a lot of mediocre tunes.

Fu Manchu’s newest album is Start the Machine. I was extremely excited to pick up this disc. I live in the land of sugary pop and cheesy ballads and was hoping for some loud metal to knock me out of my non-metal stupor. Unfortunately this CD is more like King of the Road and California Crossing, decent CDs with more mediocre songs than great ones. Start the Machine has a few hits and a lot of misses. The first song “Written in Stone,” is pure Fu with heavy driving guitars but the lyrics keep it from being a classic.

The wise man he tells me my future.

I know why he says this I’ve seen it to.

Time flies I stand still, yeah he knew.

Slow moving right past me they come through. Come through.

All eyes face there right through me.

My head has eyes focused I can’t see.

Everyone says take it slow.

I’ll be going in alone.
These are the things I need to know.

That word last time is written in stone.

These are the things I need to know.

That word last time is written in stone.

The second song “I can’t here you,” clocks in at 1:27 and is the closest thing to a punk song on the CD. This is a good song made better by the reverberating feedback which has always been a favorite of mine. The next few songs “Understand,” Make them believe,” and “Hey,” and are average at best but are some of the better songs on this album. The sixth track “I’m Getting Away,” is a great track with a catchy chorus and a heavy chugging beat. The next song “Out to Sea,” is a Kyuss like instrumental that almost hits with a groovy bass line but just doesn’t quite make it. The 8th track “Open Your Eyes,” has classic head banging riffs and an excellent hook. It is probably the best all around song on the album. The rest of the tracks aren’t very interesting especially for a band with 7 CD’s ot material. In closing, Fu Manchu still hasn’t matched the promise of In Search Of but still manage to pump out at least 3 good rocking tunes per CD.

Winamp worthy: Written in Stone, I can’t here, and Open your eyes,

Rating: Manslaughter- (unintentional and not premeditated) Penalty: 3 – 20; "You'll be out before you’re grey and probably still cranking this CD!”

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