Album Review: Fu Manchu, The Return of Tomorrow

Posted in Reviews on June 10th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

fu manchu the return of tomorrow

The lords of fuzz come back around with a new collection. Six years and one plague-interrupted three-EP 30th anniversary celebration later, San Clemente, California’s Fu Manchu offer what I count as their lucky 13th full-length, the 2LP The Return of Tomorrow, through their own At the Dojo Records. And while there’s been no lack of Fu-activity in the years since 2018’s Clone of the Universe (review here) — highlighted by the 18-minute “Il Mostro Atomico,” which featured a guest appearance from Alex Lifeson of Rush — the last year alone has seen solo- and other adjacent offerings from bassist Brad Davis (Gods of Sometimes), drummer Scott Reeder (Jacket Thief) and lead guitarist Bob Balch (Slower, Big Scenic Nowhere, Yawning Balch), with founding guitarist/vocalist Scott Hill as the only one not with a concurrent exploration, and fair enough as Hill‘s riffing has always been perceived as the central element to what Fu Manchu do. And as regards that core approach, The Return of Tomorrow is both loyal to the closely-guarded facets of the band’s structured, characteristic style, and willing to branch out a bit over the course of the included 13 songs and 50 minutes.

How Clone of the Universe ended with “Il Mostro Atomico” is relevant here in terms of The Return of Tomorrow‘s scope and how it’s presented as two shorter LPs combining to make the entire release, with the mullet-type construction of business-up-front-party-in-the-back, except with Fu Manchu, the business is the party. To explain, from “Dehumanize” through “Destroyin’ Light” — the first seven songs — the band are on an absolute tear. The material hits hard and is catchy in a way that fans will find familiar in pieces like “Roads of the Lowly,” “Hands of the Zodiac” and “Loch Ness Wrecking Machine,” etc., without really challenging the punk foundations of their sound or the clearly-ain’t-broken methodology of their songwriting. Hill delivers verses and choruses in recognizable patterns, and the band guide their listeners through a succession of stories about monsters (“Loch Ness Wrecking Machine”), psychic weirdos (“Hands of the Zodiac”) and the anxieties of the age and aging (“Dehumanize” and “(Time Is) Pulling You Under”) while kicking ass in classic Fu Manchu style, raw-ish in production in the spirit of the turn they made on 2014’s Gigantoid (review here) but wanting nothing for fullness of tone or emphatic groove.

It’s after “Destroyin’ Light” that an intended twist comes as “Lifetime Waiting” takes hold for the start of the second LP. Hill‘s stated purpose was to put the faster material first and then follow with a set of slower songs, each on its own platter, each like a short album unto itself. It doesn’t quite work out that way listening through — that is, it’s not so black and white between one and the other — as “Haze the Hides” digs in after “Hands of the Zodiac” or “The Return of Tomorrow” regrounds the proceedings following the Southern-rock-informed jammer “What I Need,” but one would hardly hold some display of dynamic against the band. It’s true the longest songs, “What I Need” (5:54) and “Solar Baptized” (6:00), both appear in the second half of the tracklisting, and while the penultimate “Liquify” bases itself around a funky start-stop riff, the lead flourish from Balch touches on psychedelia as it moves toward the end and the mellower instrumental vibing of “High Tide,” which closes in subdued, jammy fashion. So the listener can hear the one-to-the-other-type intention brought to bear in the songs themselves.

fu manchu

Mission accomplished? Yeah, at least mostly. Listening front-to-back, there is definitely a sense of expanding the reach as “Lifetime Waiting” gives over to “Solar Baptized,” but honestly, it’s all still Fu Manchu, and Fu Manchu wouldn’t be likely to put out a record at this point that wasn’t. That is to say, they know who they are and what they’re about, and while their songwriting has grown over the last three-plus decades and various productions have pushed them either toward largesse or a more stage-minded sound — The Return of Tomorrow leans toward the latter, which suits both the fast and slow material — taken as a whole, these songs aren’t trying to reinvent Fu Manchu 34 years later. You wouldn’t have asked Slayer not to be Slayer, or you wouldn’t tell Tony Iommi not to riff on a record.

To expect Fu Manchu to suddenly shift their entire approach when they’ve never shown any real interest in doing so would be ridiculous. Part of what makes The Return of Tomorrow work so well is the immediate familiarity of its hooks, with even the hard-hitting “Dehumanize” and “Haze the Hides” as a salve for tumultuous years, and the band can only be called correct to revel in that. Are they playing to audience? Maybe, but isn’t that also part of who they are as a band, writing a fresh batch of songs to take on the road for the next however long? Whether it’s two LPs or one, and even with the quirky construction — which is no less a showcase of the band’s persona than Hill‘s delivery of the title-line in “Loch Ness Wrecking Machine,” to be sure — The Return of Tomorrow celebrates Fu Manchu‘s context and their ability to make whatever they want to do fit with it. “High Tide” doesn’t conform to expectation in the same way as “Destroyin’ Light,” and “Solar Baptized” is downright expansive set next to “(Time Is) Pulling You Under,” which is a little over two minutes long and charged enough that the lines of the verse seem to interrupt each other on the way to Balch‘s next casually-shredded transitional solo.

The lesson here is probably that Fu Manchu can do whatever they want and make it work, even if part of that ambition is in maintaining the signature aspects of their broadly influential take on heavy rock and roll. At no point — even “Loch Ness Wrecking Machine” — do they slip into caricature, and their self-awareness becomes a strength as most of the material feels like it was made specifically for the stage and songs take different routes to get where they’re going. But it’s Fu Manchu, so yes, the songs are going, and the energy with which they do so is very much their own. Comforting even in its brashest moments, The Return of Tomorrow draws strength from self-awareness and dares some breadth around the central take reaffirmed by each chorus repeating in your head once it’s over. It wouldn’t be summertime without Fu Manchu.

Fu Manchu, “Hands of the Zodiac” visualizer

Fu Manchu on Facebook

Fu Manchu on Instagram

Fu Manchu on Bandcamp

Fu Manchu website

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Fu Manchu to Release 2LP The Return of Tomorrow June 14; Euro Tour Dates Announced; New Song Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 27th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

fu manchu

You couldn’t stop Fu Manchu if you wanted to, and for the life of me, why on earth would you try? The long-tenured fuzz heroes of San Clemente, California, have spent the last couple years embroiled in a celebration of their 30th anniversary that got derailed by a global pandemic but still resulted in three EPs coming out, reissuing past outings through their own At the Dojo Records imprint — they’ve got a snazzy and limited 2LP of 2004’s Go for It… Live! up for preorder now in addition to the new studio album that’s the impetus for this post — releasing the Live at Roadburn 2003 live LP and taking on not a small amount of touring.

All of this is in addition to guitarist Bob Balch branching out with multiple other projects — Big Scenic Nowhere, Yawning Balch, Slower, etc. — drummer Scott Reeder releasing his own solo debut under the moniker Jacket Thief and bassist Brad Davis collaborating with Andrew Giacumakis, formerly of Moab and a producer on Fu Manchu‘s last two albums, 2014’s Gigantoid (review here) and 2018’s Clone of the Universe (review here), as Gods of Sometimes, whose 2023 self-titled debut I sure hope gets a follow-up at some point or other.

Last week, the band put up a teaser video of a spinning test pressing, noted the approval of same, and began teasing the proverbial ‘big news.’ Today brings that news, of the next Fu Manchu album, a 2LP based around distinctions between faster and slower material (I love Slowmanchu), and as the outfit founded and fronted by guitarist/vocalist Scott Hill unveil the first single “Hands of the Zodiac” from the new record, titled The Return of Tomorrow, which like Clone of the Universe was captured at The Racket Room by Jim Monroe, their punk-born immediacy, trademark groove and swing feel well intact.

You’ll also note two European tours being announced today, for summer and the coming autumn. They’d been previously confirmed for Keep it Low in Munich and Desertfest Belgium, so the tour isn’t necessarily a surprise, but while you’re getting your preorder together, it’s something else to keep in mind.

But first, the track, which is at the bottom of this post, along with the most recent Fu30 EP, basically for the hell of it. If you dig heavy rock and roll at all, from any point in history, and you’ve never gotten into Fu Manchu — that person exists — today is as good a day as any, and any day that brings new Fu is a good day. Album’s out June 14.


fu manchu the return of tomorrow

SoCal Rock Giants FU MANCHU Announce New Double Album, ‘The Return of Tomorrow,’ Coming June 14th

Album preorder:

Stream “Hands of the Zodiac”:

European tour info & tickets:

fu manchu tourGroundbreaking pioneers of SoCal desert rock FU MANCHU, have announced details of their forthcoming, 14th album, The Return of Tomorrow, which will be released on June 14th via the band’s label At The Dojo Records.

FU MANCHU’s follow up to the critically lauded Clone of the Universe (2018) and their first ever double album is a sonic journey through massively heavy riffage, otherworldly space jams and mellow rock anthems divided into two records.

A 4,000 unit limited edition double vinyl version of The Return of Tomorrow pressed at 45RPM and packaged in a glossy gatefold jacket with one “Space” colored LP and one “Sky” colored LP is available now for pre-order with an exclusive merch design here:

Commenting on the impending record, founding guitarist and vocalist Scott Hill says:

“When I listen to music, it’s either all heavy stuff with no mellow stuff mixed in or just softer stuff with no heavy stuff. I know a lot of bands like to mix it up and we have done that before, but I always tend to listen to all of one type of thing or the other. So, I figured we should do a double record with 7 heavy fuzzy songs on one record and the other record 6 mellow(er) songs fully realizing that maybe I’m the only person that likes to listen to stuff that way. We kept both the records to around 25-30 minutes each as to make it a full length release, but not have each record be too long. We don’t write a lot of mellow(er) stuff in Fu Manchu, but a lot of the riffs worked minus the fuzz. If you’re a vinyl person, both records are pressed at 45rpm to give it the best sound quality. If you’re a digital person, can make your own playlist and mix both the records together.”

Today, the band reveals the album’s artwork, track list and first single, “Hands of the Zodiac,” a heavy, fuzzed out jam replete with scorching guitar solos meant to be cranked at maximum volume.

Adding about the single, Hill sates:

“‘Hands Of The Zodiac’ is about an astrologer friend of mine who would always ask if we wanted to know anything about our future whenever we would hang out. He would look to the stars at night and ramble off all these weird predictions, none of which ever came true. He would say ‘zodiac hands’ and face the palm of his hand at you. I would always try to remember the things he said and almost every line in the song is something he said. For example, ‘Wheels / Motion / So Impressed,’ is based on how he talked about my writing songs / practicing / touring with the band ( ‘you got those wheels in motion)’ and Fu Manchu’s accomplishments (‘so impressed.’) I guess I should have given him a writing credit.”

1. Dehumanize
2. Loch Ness Wrecking Machine
3. Hands of the Zodiac
4. Haze the Hides
5. Roads of the Lowly
6. (Time Is) Pulling You Under
7. Destroyin’ Light
8. Lifetime Waiting
9. Solar Baaptized
10. What I Need
11. The Return of Tomorrow
12. Liquify
13. High Tide

Also announced today, FU MANCHU will embark on European tours in June and October, including performances at festivals Graspop Metal Meeting, Copenhell and Hellfest. All upcoming tour dates listed below. Tickets available at

FU MANCHU Tour Dates:
May 18 – Vancouver, BC – Modified Ghost 2024
June 15 – Tampere, FI – Tavara-asema
June 17 – Stockholm, SE – Slaktkyrkan
June 18 – Oslo, NO – Vulkan Arena
June 19 – Malmo, SE – Plan B
June 21 – Dessel, BE – Graspop Metal Meeting
June 22 – Copenhagen, DK – Copenhell
June 24 – Osnabruck, DE – Lagerhalle
June 25 – Cologne, DE – Stollwerck
June 26 – Frankfurt, DE – Batschkapp
June 28 – Clisson, FR – Hellfest (Valley Stage)
Oct 12 – Munich, DE – Keep It Low Festival @ Backstage
Oct 13 – Berlin, DE – Heavy Psych Sounds Fest @ Huxleys
Oct 15 – Vienna, AT – Arena
Oct 16 – Aarau, CH – KIFF
Oct 18 – Luxembourg City, LU – Atelier
Oct 19 – Antwerp, BE – Desertfest Belgium
Oct 21 – Manchester, UK – O2 Ritz
Oct 22 – Bristol, UK – Marble Factory
Oct 23 – London, UK – Electric Ballroom
Oct 25 – Masstricht, NL – Musiekgeiterj
Oct 26 – Hamburg, DE – Lazy Bones Festival @ Markthalle
Oct 27 – Dresden, DE – Heavy Psych Sounds Fest @ Chemiefabrik

Fu Manchu are:
Scott Hill – vocals guitar
Bob Balch – Lead guitar / backing vocals
Brad Davis – Bass – Backing vocals
Scott Reeder – Drums / Backing Vocals

Fu Manchu, “Hands of the Zodiac” visualizer

Fu Manchu, Fu30 Pt. 3 EP (2023)

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Jacket Thief: Scott Reeder of Fu Manchu Announces Solo Release

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 4th, 2023 by JJ Koczan

Jacket Thief Scott Reeder of Fu Manchu

Add Fu Manchu drummer Scott Reeder to the list of the band’s members putting out solo releases in 2023. Fu bassist Brad Davis issued a debut with Gods of Sometimes this summer. Guitarist Bob Balch has like 75 bands, among them currently active is Yawning Balch and the multinational interpretive Slayer covers outfit Slower. If guitarist/vocalist Scott Hill decides to do a garage punk record or something, that’ll be enough for Bingo. Next time you’re asked who missed playing live the most during the pandemic, Fu Manchu might be your answer. Dudes must’ve been restless as hell.

Jacket Thief is the name of Reeder‘s outfit, and the album to be self-released through TripKey Records is called Lights Out on the Shore. The first single is “TLFN,” and where the PR wire sends word of various moods/vibes, the single is very much a single: catchy, inviting, straightforward. Its sound is heavy in the bottom end but not shooting for aggression or even necessarily density so much as melodic expression. Balch provides a solo, but beyond that it would seem Reeder played all the instruments and sings, as the video shows him playing guitar with color effects added and the lyrics splashed across the screen.

No, I won’t spoil what “TLFN” stands for, but if you search it and come up with “time-lagged feedforward neural networks,” I’ll tell you that’s not what the song is about, fascinating though they are.

From the PR wire:

Jacket Thief Lights Out on the Shore

FU MANCHU’s Scott Reeder Debuts Solo Project JACKET THIEF

New Album, “Lights Out On The Shore,” Out Sept 29th

Stream The First Single “TLFN” Now!

Notable Southern California bred multi-instrumentalist and FU MANCHU drummer Scott Reeder has taken the plunge into solo waters with his new project JACKET THIEF. The revered musician’s upcoming debut album, “Lights Out On The Shore,” was born out of studio sessions with Grammy Award winning producer/engineer Ryan Mall (Dropkick Murphys, Old Crow Medicine Show, Gaslight Anthem), where Reeder cultivated his vision, bringing together his desert rock roots with melodic, acoustic, psychedelic and heartland rock influences. “Lights Out On The Shore,” will be released on September 29th on his own TripKey Records.

Commenting on the record, Reeder says:

“This is a record that I wanted to do for a long while, and then different circumstances conspired so that it was more like I had to do it, I couldn’t wait any longer.”

JACKET THIEF’s debut is a melodic and soulful rock album with an engaging flow throughout, from the heavy crash of “Some Kind Of Murder” and ” A Stitch In Time,” to the leaden throb of “Daylight Apparitions” and the drop-tuned drone of the title track “Lights Out On The Shore.”

Today, Reeder has released the first taste of JACKET THIEF’s “Lights Out On The Shore,” with the single “TLFN.”

Adding about the song, Reeder states:

“‘TLFN’ is a song co written by friend and singer songwriter Micheal Rosas. It’s been around for a while in different guises. It has a bit of a heavy strut to it and the lyrics remain pretty much to the point…’is this what I think it is, or is it something else?’ In this case, it’s straight forward 4 on the floor rock-n roll with a blistering fuzzed out solo from Bob Balch.”

Stream “TLFN” and pre-order “Lights Out On The Shore”:

“Lights Out On The Shore” Tracklist:
1. Flying Too Low
3. A Stitch In Time
4. Lights Out On The Shore
5. Furs And Fires
6. Lord Meade Lane
7. A Wind Gone By
8. Some Kind Of Murder
9. The First Ones From The Skies
10. Everything But Right
11. Daylight Apparitions
12. As She Drifts…

Jacket Thief, “TLFN” official video

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Friday Full-Length: Fu Manchu, Start the Machine

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 25th, 2022 by JJ Koczan

Fu Manchu are one of the greatest heavy rock bands of all time. Pick your era, doesn’t matter. They hold up against the nascent hard distorted blues of the ’70s, the post-grunge stonerism of the ’90s in which they came up in surf-happy San Clemente, California, and, well, they’ve had a hand in influencing all things riffy since, so yeah, that too. Their tenure as Fu Manchu marked its 30th anniversary in 2020 — timing is everything — and in addition to a return to touring post-covid, they’ve had two EPs out thus far to celebrate. So on top of their already established legacy in classics like 1996’s In Search Of…, 1997’s The Action is Go (discussed here) and 1999’s King of the Road (discussed here) — I’ll argue vehemently in favor of their first two records and their Century Media eras as well — they’re still adding to it. Their latest long-player was 2018’s Clone of the Universe (review here), which was both a burner that ticked all the boxes one would hope, and in what was surely a career highlight for the band, featured a guest appearance from Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson on the 18-minute finale “Il Mostro Atomico.”

At the time, three years between full-lengths was a pretty long time for Fu Manchu, but as they went from 2001’s California Crossing to 2004’s Start the Machine, they were in something of a transitional moment. That included parting ways with then-drummer Brant Bjork (Kyuss, now Stöner, etc.) and bringing in Scott Reeder (not to be confused with the bassist of the same name) to fill the role and signing with DRT Records after releasing the momentum-keeper Go for It… Live! through SPV in 2003. They’d worked with labels like Mammoth RecordsMan’s Ruin and Bong Load for earlier albums, and as I recall DRT had some pretty decent distribution — Maryland’s Clutch were with them as well before a fallout, as well as several more commercial outfits — so it was something of an arrival for a band who, heading into their eighth album, were already veterans.

Start the Machine is about as clean and tight a Fu Manchu record as you’ll find. Not one of its 12 songs reaches the four minutes in length, and the 35-minute entirety is sharp in its execution and deceptively full in tone, the trademark fuzz of guitarists Scott Hill (also vocals) and Bob Balch and bassist/backing vocalist Brad Davis carried forth across material that could feel moderately paced but remained inherently loyal to Fu Manchu‘s punker roots while boasting maddeningly catchyfu_manchu_Start_The_Machine hooks in songs like opener “Written in Stone,” “Hey,” “Make Them Believe,” “Today’s Too Soon,” “It’s All the Same,” and so on. As regards songwriting and the general efficiency of their work, Start the Machine wanted for nothing. Listening to it now, the band sound not only like they haven’t lost a step at all for the shift in lineup, but like they’re mature craftsmen of heavy rock and roll looking to expand their reach with a collection of killer songs. Kind of the ideal, right?

If you’re waiting for the ‘but,’ fair enough. Start the Machine is arguably the most maligned of Fu Manchu‘s records. And to put that to scale, I’ll say that any Fu Manchu album is better than, say, not a Fu Manchu album, but if you’re making a list in order of preference — a poll I’d love to conduct, just for the sheer nerdery of it — there’s little doubt Start the Machine would appear somewhere near the bottom. Part of that is an inevitable shift in trend and generational transition as some followers from the ’90s aged out and a new audience came up with a new expectation of what heavy rock was supposed to be — the times a-changing, and so forth — and part of it as well is probably down to the production of Brian Dobbs, who’d spent the better part of the decade prior working as an engineer with mega-producer Bob Rock on releases from the likes of MetallicaThe CultAC/DC and Mötley Crüe, none of whom at that point were kicking out career highlights.

I refuse outright to ascribe motivations to either the band or the label involved — which is to say I won’t be calling Fu Manchu sellouts for working with a bigtime producer — and in the rager shove of “I Can’t Hear You,” the familiar start-stop declarations of “I’m Getting Away” and the twisting groove of the penultimate low-key melodic highlight “Tunnel Vision,” one can hear trademark elements of what has always made the band who they are, righteously reliable in songwriting and performance but able to break their own rules when they choose to do so. It’s spit-polished — and if you’re perhaps looking for some sense of the band’s feelings about it, one might put on the band’s 2007 outing, We Must Obey (discussed here), which is their biggest-sounding, maybe their hardest-hitting record as well — but there’s a lot, a lot, a lot to dig about Start the Machine, counter to its reputation.

So is this the part where I remind you that, hey, this record came out 18 years ago and maybe it’s worth checking in on again — perhaps digging into the band’s 2011 reissue with bonus demos, if you’re feeling saucy — to see how kind time has been to it? Hell yes it is. Because I’ll happily posit that time has been kind to Start the Machine, and while Fu Manchu‘s catalogue may have other, insurmountable landmarks — a few of them, and not all early in their career — this record deserves more love than it’s gotten in the past. California Crossing was a tough act to follow, but they did it in a way that now stands as a record unto itself in their discography and its songs have value even beyond their raw earwormness, prevalent though that is.

If nothing else. If you’ve read this and made it this far without clicking/pressing play above, take this as a sign that you should listen to some Fu Manchu today, and really, while you’re here, what’s the worst that can happen? “Written in Stone” gets stuck in your head? It’s been in mine for days now and you don’t hear me complaining.

As always, I hope you enjoy and thanks for reading.

Well, I’m home. Have to wonder if, had I not put up a post saying I was traveling, anyone would’ve noticed. It was pretty light on posts this week, but with the Thanksgiving holiday here in the US anyway. We — The Patient Mrs., The Pecan and I — were in Sayulita, Mexico, for a couple days to celebrate the wedding of a couple with whom we’ve been friends for well over 15 years. Used to get drunk in their garage, now they’re small business owners and killing it at life generally. Trip was ups and downs as regards stress level, as anything involving a five year old will be, but lil dude took a surfing lesson AND sat on my lap while we drove a golf cart through the streets of town, The Patient Mrs. got to stock up on warmth as we head into winter (that’s how it works, right?) and I still had time to write and post, so everybody got what they needed from it. We even got ripped off  by a cop on the side of the road after running a red light. $60 cash, paid in an alley so fewer people would see. A quintessential tourist experience, I’d say. He was like “we’ll go to the station where there are fewer people” and I was like, “no, if you’re going to rob me I’m not going anywhere with you.”

The wedding itself was interesting. First one I’ve been to in a while. It was gorgeous, on a mountaintop, and because of the ‘destination’ nature, there weren’t a ton of people there. I spent most of my time chasing around The Pecan, which suits me just fine. He needs to be occupied or it’s all over, and that usually means motion (or reading, which is nice, but we didn’t bring books and it barely occurred to me to use a digital reader). The Patient Mrs. did most of the social labor, which is basically how it goes. And that is deeply appreciated, even beyond her organization of the rest of the trip, our lodgings, and so forth.

I find that as time goes on I have less and less to say to people, even in an obviously friendly situation like that. It turns out that perhaps having spent the last 14 years wholly immersed in ONE THING in terms of life focus limits one’s ability to engage in other things. Who’d’ve thought, right? I know. And since there are maybe 30,000 humans worldwide max who are conversant in the ways of Heavy, that means that I’m just kind of out there feeling out of place most of the time. In the end, I was grateful to have the kid to keep focused on. Used to be I just got plastered in situations like that. I can’t honestly endorse one approach over the other. My knee mostly held up as well, so that was a relief.

But it was what it was, a gorgeous day in a gorgeous place, so let’s do the math and reason that my lack of fit in paradise is more about my inner ugliness than anything else related to the circumstance. It was an event filled with cool, nice, people. I just don’t seem to belong anywhere that isn’t this couch or standing in front of a stage being blasted with volume. Also bed.

We got home last night after midnight and I slept until about 6:45. The Pecan woke up shortly after seven (unheard of) and The Patient Mrs. emerged from the bedroom at 8AM sharp. Today is errands and chores, unpacking, laundry, etc., and grocery shopping for the Thanksgiving dinner we’re hosting for family tomorrow. That will be good. I’m glad to be able to do things like that.

If you celebrated Thanksgiving, I hope it was a good one. My travels this week underscored for me America’s ongoing colonialist history, white people being generally terrible, etc., but the actual celebrating of the holiday is among my preferred. A meal with people you love. Could be far worse, even if the narrative behind it — ‘first Thanksgiving’ and all that — is, in the parlance of our times, full on cringe.

Next week is what passes for normal around here, with more premieres slated and this and that. I could look at the notes and list it all if you want? I know Monday is a Pia Isa video premiere that was set up a while ago, and the rest of the week is likewise rad. On a day dedicated to celebrating base commerce, I feel less inclined to plug my own shit, even if it doesn’t involve money exchanging hands. Sometimes I feel like promotion cheapens us all.

On that happy note, here’s a reminder that Gimme Metal airs a new ‘The Obelisk Show’ today at 5PM Eastern. Free to stream on their app or site:

Thanks if you check that out and thanks either way for reading. Have a great and safe weekend. Hydrate, watch your head, try to dig your situation if you can. Love if and when you can.

Back Monday.


The Obelisk Collective on Facebook

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk merch

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Quarterly Review: Fu Manchu, Valborg, Sons of Arrakis, Voidward, Indus Valley Kings, Randy Holden, The Gray Goo, Acid Rooster, BongBongBeerWizards, Mosara

Posted in Reviews on September 20th, 2022 by JJ Koczan


Day two of the Fall 2022 Quarterly Review brings a fresh batch of 10 releases en route to the total 100 by next Friday. Some of this is brand new, some of it is older, some of it is doom, some is rock, some is BongBongBeerWizards, and so on. Sometimes these things get weird, and I guess that’s where it’s at for me these days, but you’re going to find plenty of ground to latch onto despite that. Wherever you end up, I hope you’re digging this so far half as much as I am. Much love as always as we dive back in.

Quarterly Review #11-20:

Fu Manchu, Fu30 Pt. 2

Fu Manchu Fu 30 part 2

Like everyone’s everything in the era, Fu Manchu‘s 30th anniversary celebration didn’t go as planned, but with their Fu30 Pt. 2 three-songer, they give 2020’s Fu30 Pt. 1 EP (posted here) the sequel its title implied and present two originals and one cover in keeping with that prior release’s format. Tracked in 2021, “Strange Plan” and the start-stop-riffed “Low Road” are quintessential works of Fu fuzz, so SoCal they’re practically in Baja, and bolstered by the kinds of grooves that have held the band in good stead with listeners throughout these three-plus decades. “Strange Plan” is more aggressive in its shove, but perhaps not so confrontational as the cover of Surf Punks‘ 1980 B-side “My Wave,” a quaint bit of surferly gatekeeping with the lines, “Go back to the Valley/And don’t come back,” in its chorus. As they will with their covers, the four-piece from San Clemente bring the song into their own sound rather than chase down trying to sound like Reagan-era punk, and that too is a method well proven on the part of the band. If you ever believed heavy rock and roll could be classic, Fu Manchu are that, and for experienced heads who’ve heard them through the years as they’ve tried different production styles, Fu30 Pt. 2 finds an effective middle ground between impact and mellow groove.

Fu Manchu on Facebook

At the Dojo Records website


Valborg, Der Alte

Valborg Der Alte

Not so much a pendulum as a giant slaughterhouse blade swinging from one side to the other like some kind of horrific grandfather clock, Valborg pull out all the industrial/keyboard elements from their sound and strip down their songwriting about as far as it will go on Der Alte, the 13-track follow-up to 2019’s Zentrum (review here) and their eighth album overall since 2009. Accordingly, the bone-cruncher pummel in cuts like “Kommando aus der Zukunft” and the shout-punky centerpiece “Hektor” is furious and raw. I’m not going to say I hope they never bring back the other aspects of their sound, but it’s hard not to appreciate the directness of the approach on Der Alte, on which only the title-track crosses the four-minute mark in runtime (it has a 30 second intro; such self-indulgence!), and their sound is still resoundingly their own in tone and the throaty harsh vocals on “Saturn Eros Xenomorph” and “Hoehle Hoelle” and the rest across the album’s intense, largely-furious-but-still-not-lacking-atmosphere span. If it was another band, you might call it death metal. As it stands, Der Alte is just Valborg, distilled to their purest and meanest form.

Valborg on Facebook

Prophecy Productions webstore


Sons of Arrakis, Volume I

Sons of Arrakis Volume I

2022 is probably a good year to put out a record based around Frank Herbert’s Dune universe (the Duniverse?), what with the gargantuan feature film last year and another one coming at some point as blah blah franchise everything, but Montreal four-piece Sons of Arrakis have had at least some of the songs on Volume I in the works for the better part of four years, guitarists Frédéric Couture (also vocals) and Francis Duchesne (also keys) handling recording for the eight-song/30-minute outing with Vick Trigger on bass and Eliot Landry on drums locking in tight grooves pushing all that sci-fi and fuzz along at a pace that one only wishes the movie had shared. I’ve never read Dune, which is only relevant information here because Volume I doesn’t leave me feeling out of the loop as “Temple of the Desert” locks in quintessential stoner rock janga-janga shuffle and “Lonesome Preacher” culminates in twisty fuzz that should well please fans of Valley of the Sun before bleeding directly and smoothly into the melodic highlight “Abomination” in a way that, to me at least, bodes better for their longer term potential than whatever happenstance novelty of subject matter surrounds. There’s plenty of Dune out there if they want to stick to the theme, but songwriting like this could be about brushing your teeth and it’d still work.

Sons of Arrakis on Facebook

Sons of Arrakis on Instagram


Voidward, Voidward

voidward voidward

Voidward‘s self-titled full-length debut lands some nine years after the Durham, North Carolina, trio’s 2013 Knives EP, and accordingly features nearly a decade’s worth of difference in sound, casting off longer-form post-black metal duggery in favor of more riff-based explorations. Still at least partially metallic in its roots, as opener “Apologize” makes plain and the immediate nodder roll of “Wolves” backs up, the eight-song/47-minute outing is distinguished by the clean, floating vocal approach of guitarist Greg Sheriff, who almost reminds of Dave Heumann from Arbouretum, though no doubt other listeners will hear other influences, and yes that’s a compliment. Joined by bassist/backing vocalist Alec Ferrell — harmonies persist on “Wolves” and elsewhere — and drummer Noah Kessler, Sheriff brings just a hint of char to the tone of “Oblivion,” but the blend of classic heavy rock and metal throughout points Voidward to someplace semi-psychedelic but nonetheless richly ambient, and even the most straightforward inclusion, arguably “Chemicals” though closer “Cobalt” has plenty of punch as well, is rich in its execution. They even thrash a bit on “Horses,” so as long as it’s not another nine years before they do anything else, they sound like they can go wherever they want. Rare for a debut.

Voidward on Facebook

Clearly Records on Bandcamp


Indus Valley Kings, Origin

Indus Valley Kings Origin

The second long-player from Long Island, New York’s Indus Valley Kings, Origin brings together nine songs across an expansive 55 minutes, and sees the trio working from a relatively straightforward heavy rock foundation toward more complex purposes, whether that’s the spacious guitar stretch-out of “A Cold Wind” or the tell-tale chug in the second half of centerpiece “Dark Side of the Sun.” They effectively shift back and forth between lengthier guitar-led jams and more straight-up verses and choruses, but structure is never left too far behind to pick up again as need be, and the confidence behind their play comes through amid a relatively barebones production style, the rush of the penultimate “Drowned” providing a later surge in answer to the more breadth-minded unfurling of “Demon Beast” and the bluesy “Mohenjo Daro.” So maybe they’re not actually from the Indus Valley. Fine. I’ll take the Ripple-esque have-riffs-have-shred-ready-to-roll “Hell to Pay” wherever it’s coming from, and the swing of the earlier “…And the Dead Shall Rise” doesn’t so much dogwhistle its penchant for classic heavy as serve it to the listener on a platter. If we’re picking favorites, I might take “A Cold Wind,” but there’s plenty to dig on one way or the other, and Origin issues invitations early and often for listeners to get on board.

Indus Valley Kings on Facebook

Indus Valley Kings on Bandcamp


Randy Holden, Population III

randy holden population iii

Clearly whoever said there were no second chances in rock and roll just hadn’t lived long enough. After reissuing one-upon-a-time Blue Cheer guitarist Randy Holden‘s largely-lost classic Population II (discussed here) for its 50th anniversary in 2020, RidingEasy Records offers Holden‘s sequel in Population III. And is it the work for which Holden will be remembered? No. But it is six songs and 57 minutes of Holden‘s craft, guitar playing, vocals and groove, and, well, that feels like something worth treasuring. Holden was in his 60s when he and Randy Pratt (also of Cactus) began to put together Population III, and for the 21-minute “Land of the Sun” alone, the album’s release a decade later is more than welcome both from an archival standpoint and in the actual listening experience, and as “Swamp Stomp” reminds how much of the ‘Comedown Era’s birth of heavy rock was born of blues influence, “Money’s Talkin'” tears into its solo with a genuine sense of catharsis. Holden may never get his due among the various ‘guitar gods’ of lore, but if Population III exposes more ears to his work and legacy, so much the better.

Randy Holden on Facebook

RidingEasy Records store


The Gray Goo, 1943

The Gray Goo 1943

Gleefully oddball Montana three-piece The Gray Goo remind my East Coast ears a bit of one-time Brooklynites Eggnogg for their ability to bring together funk and heavy/sometimes-psychedelic rock, but that’s not by any means the extent of what they offer with their debut album, 1943, which given the level of shenanigans in 10-minute opener and longest track (immediate points) “Bicycle Day” alone, I’m going to guess is named after the NES game. In any case, from “Bicycle Day” on down through the closing “Cop Punk,” the pandemic-born outfit find escape in right-right-right-on nods and bass tone, partially stonerized but casting off expectation with an aplomb that manifests in the maybe-throwing-an-elbow noise of “Problem Child,” and the somehow-sleek rehearsal-space funk of “Launch” and “The Comedown,” which arrives ahead of “Shakes and Spins” — a love song, of sorts, with fluid tempo changes and a Primus influence buried in there somewhere — and pulls itself out of the ultra-’90s jam just in time for a last plodding hook. Wrapping with the 1:31 noise interlude “Goo” and the aforementioned “Cop Punk,” which gets the prize lyrically even with the competition surrounding, 1943 is going right on my list of 2022’s best debut albums with a hope for more mischief to come.

The Gray Goo on Facebook

The Gray Goo on Bandcamp


Acid Rooster, Ad Astra

acid rooster ad astra

Oh, sweet serenity. Maybe if we all had been in that German garden on the day in summer 2020 when Acid Rooster reportedly performed the two extended jams that comprise Ad Astra — “Zu den Sternen” (22:28) and “Phasenschieber” (23:12) — at least some of us might’ve gotten the message and the assurance so desperately needed at the time that things were going to be okay. And that would’ve been nice even if not necessarily the truth. But as it stands, Ad Astra documents that secret outdoor showcase on the part of the band, unfolding with improvised grace across its longform pieces, hopeful in spirit and plenty loud by the time they get there but never fully departing from a hopeful sensibility, some vague notion of a better day to come. Even in the wholesale drone immersion of “Phasenschieber,” with the drums of “Zu den Sternen” seemingly disappeared into that lush ether, I want to close my eyes and be in that place and time, to have lived this moment. Impossible, right? Couldn’t have happened. And yet some were there, or so I’m told. The rest of us have the LP, and that’s not nothing considering how evocative this music is, but the sheer aural therapy of that moment must have been a powerful experience indeed. Hard not to feel lucky even getting a glimpse.

Acid Rooster on Facebook

Sunhair Music store

Cardinal Fuzz store

Little Cloud Records store


BongBongBeerWizards, Ampire

BongBongBeerWizards Ampire

A sophomore full-length from the Dortmund trio of guitarist/synthesist Bong Travolta, bassist/vocalist Reib Asnah and (introducing) drummer/vocalist Chill Collins — collectively operating as BongBongBeerWizardsAmpire is a call to worship for Weed and Loud alike, made up of three tracks arranged longest to shortest (immediate points) and lit by sacred rumble of spacious stoner doom. Plod as god. Tonal tectonics. This is not about innovation, but celebrating noise and lumber for the catharsis they can be when so summoned. Willfully repetitive, primitive and uncooperative, there’s some debt of mindset to the likes of Poland’s Belzebong or the largesse of half-speed Slomatics/Conan/Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, but again, if you come into the 23-minute leadoff “Choirs and Masses” expecting genre-shaping originality, you’ve already fucked up. Get crushed instead. Put it on loud and be consumed. It won’t work for everybody, but it’s not supposed to. But if you’re the sort of head crusty enough to appreciate the synth-laced hypnotic finish of “Unison” or the destructive mastery of “Slumber,” you’re gonna shit a brick when the riffs come around. They’re not the only church in town, but it’s just the right kind of fun for melting your brains with volume.

BongBongBeerWizards on Facebook

BongBongBeerWizards on Bandcamp


Mosara, Only the Dead Know Our Secrets

Mosara Only the Dead Know Our Secrets

Any way you want to cut it with Mosara‘s second album, Only the Dead Know Our Secrets, the root word you’re looking for is “heavy.” You’d say, “Oh, well ‘Magissa’ has elements of early-to-mid-aughts sludge and doom at work with a raw presentation in its cymbal splash and shouted vocals.” Or you’d say, “‘The Permanence of Isolation’ arrives at a chugging resolution after a deceptively intricate intro,” or “the acoustic beginning of ‘Zion’s Eyes’ leads to a massive, engaging nod that shows thoughtfulness of construction in its later intertwining of lead guitar lines.” Or that the closing title-track flips the structure to end quiet after an especially tortured stretch of nonetheless-ambient sludge. All that’s true, but you know what it rounds out to when you take away the blah blah blah? It’s fucking heavy. Whatever angle you’re approaching from — mood, tone, songwriting, performance — it’s fucking heavy. Sometimes there’s just no other way, no better way, to say it. Mosara‘s 2021 self-titled debut (review here) was too. It’s just how it is. I bet their next one will be as well, or at very least I hope so. If you’re old enough to recall Twingiant, there’s members of that band here, but even if not, what you need to know is that Only the Dead Know Our Secrets is fucking heavy. So there.

Mosara on Facebook

Mosara on Bandcamp


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Fu Manchu Announce Rescheduled 30th Anniversary Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 19th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Fu Manchu (Photo by Thom Cooper)

I take it as an encouraging sign that I saw these tour dates maybe five minutes before I started putting this post together and it’s only now, some 20 minutes after that, that the possibility that they wouldn’t for some reason happen occurs to me. So yes, barring some pandemic resurgence, some mutation of COVID-19 or once-in-a-century viral infections becoming like once-in-a-century wildfires or once-in-a-century hurricanes — that’s right I fucking said it; it’s all tied together! the end is nigh assholes and we did it! — these shows will go forward. Obviously, my hope is that they do precisely that. I’m not the hugest fan of the New York venue — no photo pit, no parking, all crowd push — but a Fu gig is an awfully pleasant thought.

As discussed in my recent interview with guitarist Bob Balch (posted here), Fu Manchu are looking to get back to recording material for their 30th anniversary EP series in the next couple months. Presumably releases will happen staggered somewhere around these tour dates, as the band hits various spots in Europe and major markets along East, West and Southern US coasts. Note Freak Valley Festival in Germany. It is my sincere hope to be there.

As Balch also said in the interview, Thursday is Fu Manchu day, since they’ve practiced on Thursdays apparently forever, the last year notwithstanding. Sounds good to me. Make sure to kick out some Fu Manchu tomorrow in their honor.

Dates follow:

fu manchu 30th anniversary tour

See you all in 2022! Check out our rescheduled 30th Anniversary shows at Original tickets are still valid and new tickets are on sale now.

Fu Manchu Live:
Tue, MAR 15, 2022 The Rebel Lounge Phoenix, AZ
Fri, MAR 18, 2022 House of Blues Dallas Dallas, TX
Sat, MAR 19, 2022 The Secret Group Houston, TX
Tue, MAR 22, 2022 Motorco Music Hall Durham, NC
Wed, MAR 23, 2022 Baltimore Soundstage Baltimore, MD
Thu, MAR 24, 2022 Underground Arts Philadelphia, PA
Sat, MAR 26, 2022 The Sinclair Cambridge, MA
Sun, MAR 27, 2022 Bowery Ballroom New York, NY
Tue, MAR 29, 2022 Grog Shop Cleveland, OH
Wed, MAR 30, 2022 Bottom Lounge Chicago, IL
Sat, APR 2, 2022 Bluebird Theater Denver, CO
Thu, JUN 9, 2022 Markthalle Hamburg, Germany
Sat, JUN 11, 2022 Backstage Halle Munich, Germany
Sun, JUN 12, 2022 Glazart Paris, France
Mon, JUN 13, 2022 Les Docks Lausanne, Switzerland
Tue, JUN 14, 2022 Alcatraz Milan, Italy
Sat, JUN 18, 2022 Freak Valley Festival Netphen, Germany
Tue, JUN 21, 2022 Patronaat Haarlem, Netherlands
Wed, JUN 22, 2022 La Maison Bleue Strasbourg, France
Thu, SEP 22, 2022 Garage 2 (G2) Glasgow, United Kingdom
Fri, SEP 23, 2022 O2 Institute Birmingham, United Kingdom
Sat, SEP 24, 2022 O2 Empire Shepherds Bush London, United Kingdom
Mon, SEP 26, 2022 Button Factory Dublin, Ireland
Tue, SEP 27, 2022 Manchester Academy Manchester, United Kingdom
Thu, SEP 29, 2022 Kulturfabrik Asbl Cultural Centre Esch-sur-alzette, Luxembourg
Sat, OCT 1, 2022 Pumpehuset Copenhagen, Denmark
Mon, OCT 3, 2022 Pustervik Göteborg, Sweden
Tue, OCT 4, 2022 Rockefeller Music Hall Oslo, Norway
Wed, OCT 5, 2022 Nalen Stockholm, Sweden
Fri, OCT 7, 2022 Hole44 Berlin, Germany
Sun, OCT 9, 2022 Substage Karlsruhe, Germany
Tue, OCT 11, 2022 Kulturzentrum Schlachthof Wiesbaden, Germany
Wed, OCT 12, 2022 Effenaar Eindhoven, Netherlands
Wed, OCT 12, 2022 Effenaar Eindhoven, Netherlands
Thu, OCT 13, 2022 AB Cafe Brussels, Belgium
Tue, NOV 1, 2022 Great American Music Hall San Francisco, CA
Sun, NOV 13, 2022 Hawthorne Theatre Portland, OR
Mon, NOV 14, 2022 Neumos Seattle, WA
Fri, NOV 18, 2022 The Ritz San Jose, CA
Sat, DEC 3, 2022 Troubadour (Doug Weston’s Troubadour Tavern) Los Angeles, CA
Sat, DEC 10, 2022 The Wayfarer Costa Mesa, CA
Sat, DEC 17, 2022 Casbah San Diego, CA

Return To Earth 1991-1993 Deluxe Edition available on streaming and for download now here:

LP/CD is also available at record stores around the world. It’s been remixed and remastered with 2 bonus unreleased songs. Pre-orders are shipping out now.

Fu Manchu are:
Scott Hill – vocals guitar
Bob Balch – Lead guitar / backing vocals
Brad Davis – Bass – Backing vocals
Scott Reeder – Drums / Backing Vocals

Fu Manchu, Fu30 Pt. 1 EP (2020)

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Fu Manchu Release Rush Cover “Working Man”

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 15th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

fu manchu

If you didn’t know the dudes of Fu Manchu are big Rush fans, it would probably go along way toward explaining while Alex Lifeson showed up on 2018’s Clone of the Universe (review here) and why they were willing to dedicate nearly half of the record’s 38-minute runtime to the track on which he appeared. Also riffs. Anyhoozle, in homage to the late Neil Peart, the Fu have a cover of Rush‘s “Working Man” that they’ve now issued as a digital single with the proceeds going to brain tumor research, and frankly, I have to believe if there’s anything that’s got a shot at curing cancer, it’s Fu Manchu. If you know me personally, you know I’m being sincere when I say that.

Fu Manchu were set to spend most of this year back-and-forthing on tour for their 30th anniversary. Those plans, of course, have been postponed like the best of everything, and you can find the rescheduled dates on their various social platforms. As for “Working Man,” it’s streaming at the bottom here, and it grooves every bit as much as you’re hoping it does. Fu Manchu don’t disappoint.

To wit:

fu manchu working man

In Tribute to The Professor, Neil Peart, we are releasing our version of RUSH’s “Working Man” that we recorded January 2020. All Proceeds will benefit Brain Tumor Research at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in his memory. Members of our band and our manager were in the audience on August 1, 2015 when this was the final song played by Neil, Geddy and Alex. We are forever grateful for all of the music and memories. Thanks to Carl Saff for donating his mastering services and to David Medel for donating his art services. Thanks to Jim Monroe for the studio time, engineering & mixing hook up. Thanks to Meg and everyone in the Rush family. Thanks to John Raso for going the extra mile to help us get this out. This is a digital release only…for now.

Line up:
Scott Hill – vocals guitar
Bob Balch – Lead guitar / backing vocals
Brad Davis – Bass – Backing vocals
Scott Reeder – Drums / Backing Vocals

Fu Manchu, “Working Man”

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Friday Full-Length: Fu Manchu, Daredevil

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 28th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Fu Manchu, Daredevil (1995)

What’s most incredible about listening to the earliest Fu Manchu albums, whether that’s 1995’s Daredevil or their preceding 1994 debut, No One Rides for Free (reissue review here), is just how vividly the band knew even at that point what they wanted to do. Granted, guitarist/vocalist Scott Hill, bassist Mark Abshire and drummer Ruben Romano had worked together in the prior outfit, Virulence, whose work Southern Lord reissued in 2010 as the collection, If this isn’t a Dream… 1985-1989 (review here), but even so, for all of Fu Manchu‘s reputation as a bunch of aloof, laid back surfer dudes who, I don’t know, just happened to plug in their guitars and help define fuzz rock?, the coherence and the consciousness at work in No One Rides for Free and Daredevil, the sheer songcraft in cuts like “Trapeze Freak,” “Gathering Speed,” “Sleestak,” “Egor” and “Push Button Magic,” the structure of the album — CD era linearity, to be sure, but still vinyl-ready at 11 tracks/43 minutes, and indeed reissued by the band on LP in 2015 via their At the Dojo imprint; it’s up on their Bandcamp page — and the performances themselves leave no doubt that Fu Manchu were aware of the sound they were seeking out. The groove that would so much come to fruition on subsequent outings like 1996’s In Search Of… (discussed here) and 1997’s The Action is Go (discussed here), the Eatin’ Dust 10″ in ’99 and 2000’s King of the Road, was already embedded in their sound, and in its toneand overarching flow, Daredevil shows that without question. It emits that SoCal sense of cool born of skate and surf culture that still resonates nearly a quarter-century later, and not just because kids are walking around in flannels and boots again (hilarious though that is), but because it taps into the timeless notion of American self-determinism; the will and ability to look at what the masses are doing and say, “nah, not for me.” As long as there’s been cool, that’s been it, and listening back to Daredevil now, thinking of it in its world-just-getting-over-grunge-and-wondering-what’s-next context, Fu Manchu were doing precisely that.

As the band continued to evolve into the immediately-identifiable processes it continues to carry out to this day — their latest album, Clone of the Universe (review here), is a winner — so too did the lineup change. Daredevil marked the departure of Abshire from the four-piece with HillRomano and lead guitarist Eddie Glass, and the arrival of bassist Brad Davis, who remains in the lineup. One might then think of it as a bridge between the debut and In Search Of… to come, but that does something of a disservice to the chorus of “Coyote Duster,” the fu manchu daredevilstart-stop riff and Glass‘ solo there, or the shimmy in second cut “Tilt,” which backs “Trapeze Freak” at the outset and, like that track, tosses the name of the record into the lyrics. Certainly at the time Daredevil came out, no one knew Fu Manchu would be back the next year with a genre landmark, and while Daredevil still has its formative elements in terms of their approach, to listen to the semi-spaced push of “Travel Agent” and its ultra-stoned nodder compatriot “Sleestak” and its consciousness-drifting answer in “Space Farm,” the roots of what they’d become are right there in the depth of distortion, the weight of their rhythm and their seemingly endless supply of hooks. “Lug” has some elements of the Southern Cali punk scene that birthed them, and “Egor” and “Wurkin'” back-to-back are solid mid-paced groovers that are no less memorable than anything before them while retaining their edge as more than just exercises in songwriting. Top it off with “Push Button Magic” as a late highlight, and Daredevil winds up as a completely underrated inclusion in the Fu Manchu catalog. It may be the that the Hill/Glass/Davis/Romano lineup were getting their feet under them in these songs, but there’s no question they absolutely did so at some point before they hit the studio to record. Seriously, who’s gonna fight with Glass‘ watery solo in “Space Farm?” Jerks, that’s who.

There’s no denying — and I mean none — what Fu Manchu would go on to create, and I’m not taking anything away from those records. And as Glass and Romano departed in order to re-team with Abshire in Nebula, and a fresh-off-Kyuss Brant Bjork took over on drums and Bob Balch came in on lead guitar, Fu Manchu‘s delivery only continued to smooth itself out to a point of unmatched fuzzy refinement. One could argue that 2001’s California Crossing and 2004’s Start the Machine (the latter their lone release on DRT Records, which at that point was also handling Clutch) took them too far into a commercial direction, but that’s mostly a quibble with production value, since Fu Manchu have always been and remain an immediately accessible listen. Even unto their Century Media years with 2007’s We Must Obey (discussed here) and 2009’s Signs of Infinite Power (discussed here), which beefed up their fuzz considerably, they never had anything approaching pretense in their sound, and their latter-day work on 2014’s Gigantoid (review here) and the aforementioned Clone of the Universe, has found them reopening the conversation with their punk and hardcore roots with a rawer take while retaining an affinity for the heavier elements they helped make so essential in the first place. Classic band? Definitely.

And most importantly, the value of Daredevil extends beyond the academic to the songs themselves. 23 years after the fact, it’s still a gnarly listen, brimming with attitude and a quality of output that, yes, demonstrates clearly that Fu Manchu‘s vision of fuzzy heavy rock was not happenstance, but moreover, simply kicks ass. To my knowledge, they’ve never played it in its entirety live as they have The Action is GoIn Search Of… and (I believe) King of the Road, and I’m not sure they would, as it doesn’t have the same kind of profile as those records, but if any of these tracks made its way into a set, as “Push Button Magic” still does every now and then, I can only imagine feeling lucky to be there to see it.

As always, I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

If you’re reading this, that at least means I made it to the end of the week enough to get it posted, so you’ll pardon me if I take a second to congratulate myself on that.

Before I get into anything else, I want to say thanks to everybody who listened to the first episode of The Obelisk Show on Gimme Radio. Can’t even begin to tell you how much that means to me. If you get the chance, it’s re-airing two more times over the next couple days:

Saturday, Sept 29 at 11am ET / 8am PT
Monday, October 1 at 11am ET / 8am PT

If you get to check it out, it’s hugely appreciated.

I’ve already turned in a playlist for a second episode — yes, it starts with YOB — but have to learn how to use their voice-recording dealy before it actually gets to air. We’ll see how it goes. Either way, my plan is to bring on The Patient Mrs. for a guest spot following up on the first episode’s cameo.

And next week I’m also traveling to Norway for the Høstsabbat festival, so I might try to chase down dudes in Asteroid or Elephant Tree, etc., and see if they want to record a couple minutes to air at a later time. That would probably be episode three. Look at me, thinking ahead.

I leave for that on Thursday, get into Oslo on Friday. Fest starts Friday evening, runs through Saturday, starting in the afternoon, and then I fly back on Sunday. Quick, efficient, in and out. My flights have a layover in Copenhagen, but nothing long enough to actually leave the airport. Still, I’ve never been to Denmark. Now at least I can say I was in and out. That’s more than I’ve ever been able to do with Sweden, much to my ongoing shame.

But I’m looking forward to Høstsabbat and incredibly grateful for the chance to get back there. It’s going to be good.

The Patient Mrs., The Pecan and I were in Connecticut last weekend, and it was good to get out of the house for a couple days and kind of reset the brain after having to put The Much-Missed Little Dog Dio down. At least not be somewhere where everything reminds me of her, which seems to be the case at home. It’s been rough. I know loss is universal, and everyone goes through it, and it always sucks, but some you feel more than you feel others. This one I’ll have with me for as long as I have anything.

What part of the week I didn’t spend writing or falling asleep against my will, I mostly spent taking care of the baby. Last semester, The Patient Mrs.’ schedule allowed her to come home between classes, feed him before she went back, and at least give me a couple minutes to get a post up or do something crazy like shower or go to the bathroom. The shifts (that is, mine) are longer now and her commitments outside of teaching classes are manifold. Lot of meetings, lot of favors done for colleagues. The Pecan is 11 months old as of earlier this week. He’s walking and babbling, climbing the furniture and getting into absolutely everything, but he’s also a lot, a lot, a lot of fun right now.

He’s had stretches where it’s been hard to take — those early teething stretches were not great — but (fingers always crossed) he’s sleeping through the night, which I know because I’m up for most of it and have the baby monitor on while I write, and he wants to play and read books and mash up blueberries and laugh and have a good time. Sure, we spent all day yesterday watching the Kavanaugh hearing, and that was probably the most screen-time he’s ever had, but even so, it’s a blast to chase him around the room, pick him up, give him his stuffed Porg to play with and so on. A lot of fun. Feels good. Money is super-tight — as in, The Patient Mrs. got paid last Friday and we were broke by the time I finished grocery shopping and buying gas this past Tuesday — but “daddy” is the best job I’ve ever had, hands down.


I’ve got a lot of stuff in the works for next week, including at some point a Wasted Theory video premiere that needs to get placed, but here’s where the notes are at right now ahead of the Norway trip:

Mon.: Megaton Leviathan interview and track premiere.
Tue.: The Exploding Eyes Orchestra album stream.
Wed.: Bourbon album stream.
Thu.: Probably Wasted Theory video premiere or otherwise Windhand review.
Fri.: King Buffalo interview… me.

A word about that last entry: Yes. Drummer Scott Donaldson from King Buffalo wanted to do an interview with me. He sent me questions and I answered them, and I’m going to post that on Friday. It was a fun, silly kind of thing, and it feels super-weird and self-glorifying in a way that makes me really, really uncomfortable, but it gives me another chance to talk about their new record, so whatever. I hate the thought of posting it like it’s some ego trip like who the fuck am I to think anyone gives a shit about anything I say other than “yo, riffs are cool,” but yeah. I’ve told myself I’m putting it up and in all likelihood, unless I can manage to talk myself out of it between now and then — as, rest assured, a big part of me is trying to do — it’ll be up sometime before the fest starts on Friday in Oslo.

Alright, that’s enough. It’s 5AM and time to put up the first of today’s six posts. Woof. Then maybe I’ll have some more coffee and read or go back upstairs and try to crash out for a bit until the baby gets up, which I expect he will within the hour. I was up a few times between when I first fell asleep at 9PM and 2:30AM when the alarm went off, so whether it’s during baby-nap or what, more sleep is probably going to happen today one way or another.

Have a great and safe weekend, and again, thank you for reading. Back Monday, and please check out the forum and the radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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