Fu Manchu 

Signs of Infinite Power

Ever since Fu Manchu frontman Scott Hill had his fuzz pedal stolen back in 2000 or so, fans of the now-venerable SoCal stoner rock band have clamored for a return to the grooved-out thickness of classics like the 1996 In Search Of record. Since California Crossing—a solid outing that had the unfortunate coincidence of being released on 9/11—each subsequent release has claimed a "return to form" without quite getting there. Four albums and several record labels later, the opening churn of "Bionic Astronautics" gives way to an album that finally hits the mark.

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"El Busta" and the title track sound like classic Fu—fuzzy, groove-centric cuts that range from mid-tempo blu-dgeoning to punked-up octane. Forget the tired references to Black Sabbath you may still read about this band. The new embrace of punk rock legends like Black Flag and Circle Jerks lends a fury to modern Fu that they lacked as youngsters.

Lyrically, Fu stays mostly on formula: songs about cars, monsters, and B-movies. What the hell is a "Webfoot Witch Hat" anyway? Doesn't matter; it's Fu Manchu, and this is a song that sounds like it could have come out in the previous millennium. That's all that matters.

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