Signs Of Infinite Power
posted on 10/2009 By:
The nineties stoner rock boom has long since burned out; the roaches have been smoked to the very nubs, and every last bit of resin has been scraped from the bowl. Yet, Fu Manchu remains. The band’s longevity is perhaps due to the fact Fu Manchu, while saddled with the stoner rock tag, have never made weed the focus of their music. No, for this California act, it’s all about boogie vans, muscle cars, skateboarding, science fiction, and rocking the best they know how. The band’s thick, fuzzy sound has no doubt provided the soundtrack for a million bong hits, but the music itself has never wandered about in a haze. Owing, perhaps, to the band’s punk roots, Fu Manchu has always kicked out the jams with authority, and the band is kicking particularly hard on its latest album Signs of Infinite Power.
After almost twenty years of recording, fans of the band should know exactly what to expect from a Fu Manchu album. That is not to say that the band’s career has been bereft of growth or experimentation, but such excursions into new territory have never really ventured too far from the band’s core sound. Thus, the difference between a good Fu Manchu record and a great Fu Manchu record (In my estimation, they have never released a bad album.) is going to be quite subtle and subjective. Signs of Infinite Power falls into the latter category for one big reason: It is heavy. Fu Manchu have, of course, never been lightweights, but Signs finds the band sounding particularly metallic. This is due, in part, to a sterling production job that is rich in low end thump, but credit must also go to the band for a particularly weighty performance of the sort not heard since their classic album In Search of... The stomping “Webfoot Witch Hat,” for instance, features a solo section backed by some sinister doom metal riffs that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Cathedral record, and on “Gargantuan March,” the rhythm section of bassist, Brad Davis and drummer, “Not that” Scott Reeder set up an infectious, lead-footed groove that matches the song’s title perfectly. Even the more rock oriented songs on the album have a leaner, meaner feel to them, giving the impression that Fu Manchu are out to prove their mettle.
The added heft on Signs of Infinite Power does not supplant any of the elements one would come to expect from a Fu Manchu record. Fuzzy pentatonic riffs, and bluesy, solos are still the band’s stock in trade. Lead guitarist Bob Balch turns in some particularly fine work, adding some sublimely silky melodies to “Eyes X 10,” “Steel Beast Defeated” and a fine solo on “Against the Ground.” Scott Hill still is not much of a singer, but his deadpan delivery is as much a hallmark of the Fu Manchu sound as the fuzz boxes and wah pedals.
It is unusual to find a band going this strong, this deep into its career, but the fact remains that Fu Manchu are rocking as hard now as they ever have. In all, Signs of Infinite Power is a rock solid release. It may, in fact, rank among the band’s best work. In any case, fans of Fu Manchu should find exactly what they are looking for on this record. To those unacquainted with the band, this release is as good a place as any to start. Here’s to Fu Manchu: Long may they burn.
Register to post comments.