Fu Manchu's latest, 'The Action Is Go,' is dead on arrival

by Hank Leukart | 11/3/97 6:00am

The other day, a friend of mine was listening to Bush when her roommate walked in the room and said, "What is this, Metallica?" That is essentially how I feel about Fu Manchu's first major release, "The Action is Go."

Fu Manchu's music is not ultra-heavy, but it is so close that it might as well be. They sound like every other band that wants to be in the "stoner rock" category: indistinguishable, noisy and dazed.

This could all be fine if they advertised themselves as "average stoner rock," but their Mammoth Records press release has a little more to say.

"There are [bands] who shine brightest. Then there are dozens of sparklers and bangers that promise much when you look at the packet, but really don't do much more than fill in the gaps between the big bangs," it states.

Well said. Fu Manchu is not the firework "that makes car alarms go off and small children cry," but the dud with the overdone package that will not even explode after lighting.

The compact disc contains fourteen tracks, falling in at just over 55 minutes of music.

Starting with "Evil Eye," the CD is loud and obnoxious with practically no melody. Scott Hill's fake accent (do not ask me what it is) and screaming are enough to make the song unpleasant and unintelligible.

The title track, as well songs like "Anodizer," "Unknown World," "Hogwash," "Grendel," "Snowman," "Strolling Astronomer" and "Saturn III" can all be described the same way, probably because they all sound identical to "Evil Eye."

The second track, "Urethane," actually sounds as though it could be a good song.

Of course, it disappoints quickly when it returns to its supposed "stoner rock" roots after a minute of music and reverts to screaming and bad electric guitar.

"Burning Road" and "Guardrail" might have been better had they not used the same six-note riff throughout, making them both extremely repetitive.

Another track, "Trackside Hoax" is actually almost catchy.

Strange echoing background noises and some grooving drum beats make the song interesting. The screaming is kept to a bear minimum and Hill primarily talks over the music, making the whole song more palatable than the rest.

I still do not know what the song is about, but to Fu Manchu the whole idea of lyrics seems unimportant.

"Laserbl'ast!" gives more of the same, with Hill speaking instead of screaming and a few good rhythms. Some of the electric guitar in this song is not bad, but when the vocals become too loud and have too much reverb, the quality of the song takes a dive.

Finally, the album ends with "Nothing Done," a track very much like the first but with louder yelling.

"We're not gonna go ska or techno cos that's happening," Hill has said.

The reason ska and techno is "happening," Scott, is because a lot of it is really good music.

He went on to say, "It's pretty much the same stuff only we're better at writing songs."

Whatever.