The Gigantoid is a very elusive creature. Out on the band’s own At the Dojo Records, it’s not available in stores, and can only be found at Fu Manchu concerts across the country… such as the one that recently took place in Toronto. And as far as new albums go, it’s the Fu’s first in five years.
In the interim, they’ve earned their title as King(s) of the Road, hitting town twice on the back of “classic album revisited” sets unearthing In Search Of… and The Action is Go in their entirety. One can only hope that reliving their Gen X past these past few years has rubbed off on the new material; their last couple albums were darker, with a little less of that SoCal, laid-back, stoner-rock vibe.
It initially seems we’re in luck. “Dimension Shifter” contains the same sparse verses and great grooves of classic Fu, Scott Hill’s surfer drawl leading us into a heavy, groovy chorus, ending with a super slow-mo section that’ll have ya going under the hood for an instant replay. But jump ahead to “Invaders on My Back,” and you get a tune that wouldn’t be outta place on Vista Chino’s latest, were it not for the hard-hitting chorus harkening back to the pre-Fu’s hardcore salad days. “Anxiety Reducer” calms the nerves with some Vitus-style doom riffs, complete with stop-start chorus… hell, you could even say the fuzzed-out guitar solo pays homage to Dave Chandler—and there’s nothing wrong with that!
I’m digging the trade-off between semi-whispered vocals and uber-heavy riff waves in “Radio Source Sagittarius,” while “Mutant” mutates from stoner to doom with some massive bass grooves preceding the fast-paced punk attack of “No Warning.” The last three tracks are more along the lines of vintage Fu, with “The Last Question” ending things on a jammy, Kyussian note. Although this stuff is still darker than, say, California Crossing… it’s pretty damn good!
(Plus, they finally played “Weird Beard” for me at the Toronto show after three years of screaming it at ’em, so I’m in no mood to hate on the Fu right now.)
(At the Dojo Records, www.fu-manchu.com)