Fu Manchu is practically the AC/DC of stoner rock, owing to their consistency and longevity. When these guys put out a new record, you pretty much know what you’re gonna get… and it’s gonna be groovy. Clone of the Universe is the 12th studio album from these long-running desert rockers, and it definitely delivers.
The album opens on a familiar Fu Manchu groove with “Intelligent Worship,” Scott Hill’s lazy drawl crawling over a solid, heavy riff, that speeds up just a bit for the chorus. This song wouldn’t sound outta place on King of the Road—y’know, about 20 years ago. Ditto the catchy, compact, three-minute title track, which picks up the pace down the homestretch to an instrumental hardcore stomp, before ending on a super-slow-mo note.
“(I’ve Been) Hexed” is slightly slower, gloomier and contains a catchy chorus that could certainly become a future concert fixture. “Don’t Panic,” at just a shade over two minutes, is a little more up-tempo, while “Slower Than Light” and “Nowhere Left to Hide” takes things down a couple notches, but definitely still fit the Fu Manchu heavy-riff template. Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
The one place where they take off into left-field is on 18-minute(!) album closer “Il Mostro Atomico.” Don’t get me wrong, the heavy riffage still abounds, but there’s much more of a psychedelic, jam-band feel as these dudes seemingly channel Earthless in this extended jam. I can still dig it, even if it is a little lengthy…