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.
"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.