Okay, since the Tik-Tok video worked out nicely, let’s find out how YewToob fares.
That’s the mighty Fu Manchu, king of the stoner-rock bands. I tremendously dig how hard they work a groove consisting entirely of one (1) chord, going from a seemingly mild, almost bland intro, building up the tension until by the fadeout my neck hurts from violently thrashing my head as if I had any hair to be tossing. A bio bit on the boys:
Fu Manchu is an American stoner rock band, formed in Orange County in 1985. The band underwent multiple lineup changes throughout the 80s and 90s, but has remained consistent since 2001. The band currently consists of founding guitarist turned lead vocalist Scott Hill, bassist Brad Davis, lead guitarist Bob Balch and drummer Scott Reeder.
Fu Manchu have been long associated with the Palm Desert Scene, alongside bands such as Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss and Mondo Generator. Monster Riff has described the band as “one of the most loved and revered…bands in the stoner rock world.”
Indeed, and deservedly so too. But what is this “stoner rock” of which I speak, you ask? Oh, just this:
Stoner rock is typically slow-to-mid tempo and features a heavily distorted, groove-laden bass-heavy sound, melodic vocals, and “retro” production. Due to the similarities between stoner and sludge metal, there is often a crossover between the two genres. This hybrid has traits of both styles, but generally lacks stoner metal’s laid back atmosphere and its usage of psychedelia.
For my money, Monster Magnet and Fu Manchu represent the tippy-top of the stoner-rock heap. An amalgamation of late-60s/early-70s hard rock a la DPurp, Sabbath, Zep, and Hawkwind, cranked up to 11 by the breakneck intensity of late-70s/early-80s punk—really, what’s there for a guy like me not to like here? Next up, my all-time fav-o-rite Fu Manchu tune.
One could be forgiven for not expecting subtlety from the above description of the genre they’re working in, and maybe one would be right at that. But take careful note of how, after using a choppy staccato throughout the first verses, the bassist transitions during the guitar solo to a pounding, single-note legato throb. Meanwhile, the vocalist begins the breakdown section in a conversational near-whisper, working up an octave until he’s reached a frantic bellow. The drummer swaps out his high-hat for the ride, then starts in wailing on the crash cymbal like it just stole his girlfriend. The lead guitar wraps the party up with a series of vicious, bent-string squalls.
All that doesn’t come together by accident, y’know; while it may not be what Frank Sinatra would think of as subtle, it’s subtle enough for rock and roll.