Fu Manchu – Start The Machine (CD)

With Led Zepplin-esque guitars and a Corrosion of Conformity/Alice in Chains feel to their first track, “Written in Stone”, Fu Manchu starts off with all the balls in their court. Continuing the aural assault with Bob’s sizzling guitar solo layered off of Scott’s rhythmic lines, Fu Manchu never let off in their relentless search for rock. Infusing their music with seventy down-and-dirty rock, “Start the Machine” is full of tracks that simultaneously look back as well as they smack of new approaches and attitudes to the music. Stronger than their immediately preceding album “California Crossing”, “Start The Machine” shows a band that has been able to coalesce into something much more lean in their later years, as well as rivaling Kyuss in their brand of sludge-metal. Even during the instrumental “Out To Sea”, the band expertly constructs a very emotive set of rock, much like Lagging Leftward if they had access to the proper recording equipment. The high hats of Reeder come through to be most prominent during the track, providing the perfect fuzz to the smooth guitar lines.

‘It’s All The Same’ comes off as the most brutal on the disc, with guitars hanging over the listener’s head until they all drop away and reveal the Alice Cooper-like vocals of Scott Hill. The restrained solos of “It’s All The Same” are a little cliché, but do well in providing the bridge for the track, ending in Morbid Angel-like riffs. For being a disc that so successfully models itself on the swamp-rock of a host of bands before them, the simple fact is that ‘Start The Machine” speeds through at a breakneck clip, ending each track well before the four minute mark. In bringing the review back to Lagging Leftward, the reason why “Start The Machine” will be such a successful album and Lagging Leftward will suffer is that Fu Manchu has been around long enough to pare down all but the most necessary bits of their song, preserving their hard-hitting nature but making them radio-friendly in the process.

Fu Manchu has been on a long strange journey since 2000’s King of the Road, and I think they have surpassed even that modern-day classic with “Start The Machine”. From the all-in chorus in “Written In Stone” to the closing strains of “I Wanna Be”, Fu Manchu have been able to craft a masterpiece in under thirty minutes.

Top Tracks: Written in Stone, I Can’t Hear You

Rating: 7.1/10

Fu Manchu – Start The Machine / 2004 DRT / 12 Tracks / http://www.fu-manchu.com / http://www.drtentertainment.com / Reviewed 08 October 2004

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