With Led Zepplin-esque guitars and a Corrosion of Conformity/Alice in Chains feel to their first track, â€œWritten in Stoneâ€, Fu Manchu starts off with all the balls in their court. Continuing the aural assault with Bobâ€™s sizzling guitar solo layered off of Scottâ€™s rhythmic lines, Fu Manchu never let off in their relentless search for rock. Infusing their music with seventy down-and-dirty rock, â€œStart the Machineâ€ 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 â€œCalifornia Crossingâ€, â€œStart The Machineâ€ 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 â€œOut To Seaâ€, 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.
â€˜Itâ€™s All The Sameâ€™ comes off as the most brutal on the disc, with guitars hanging over the listenerâ€™s head until they all drop away and reveal the Alice Cooper-like vocals of Scott Hill. The restrained solos of â€œItâ€™s All The Sameâ€ are a little clichÃ©, 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 â€˜Start The Machineâ€ 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 â€œStart The Machineâ€ 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 2000â€™s King of the Road, and I think they have surpassed even that modern-day classic with â€œStart The Machineâ€. From the all-in chorus in â€œWritten In Stoneâ€ to the closing strains of â€œI Wanna Beâ€, Fu Manchu have been able to craft a masterpiece in under thirty minutes.
Top Tracks: Written in Stone, I Canâ€™t Hear You
Fu Manchu â€“ Start The Machine / 2004 DRT / 12 Tracks / http://www.fu-manchu.com / http://www.drtentertainment.com / Reviewed 08 October 2004