Fu Manchu – “We Must Obey”

By Gus Bode

“We Must Obey”

Release Date: Feb. 20

Record Label: Century Media



Rating: 3 stars

Somewhere between metalheads, skate punks and mind-expansion enthusiasts are the members of California’s hard-rocking Fu Manchu.

Mining a sound that combines the rhythmic boogie of Thin Lizzy and the bludgeoning sonic sludge of Black Sabbath, Fu Manchu return to form after a prolonged hibernation with the commanding “We Must Obey.” While 2004s “Start the Machine” was a forgettable misstep in the band’s lengthy career, “Obey” is everything fans have come to love and expect from the “stoner rock” quartet.

The album’s opening tune and title track sets the tone for the record, with a cacophony of drums and distortion-drenched guitars plowing through the tune with reckless abandon. Tunes such as the fuzzy “Knew it All Along,” and the hard driving “Let Me Out,” offer some of the best grooves the band has ever recorded.

Fu Manchu’s Black Sabbath influences come through full force on the sludgy “Hung Out to Dry” the plodding groove of “Land of Giants” and the wall of guitars on “Lesson.” Some could consider this type of homage derivative dreck, but Fu Manchu has always proudly worn its metal influences on its sleeve, and the heaviness carries maximum effect throughout “We Must Obey.”

The trippy “Sensei Vs. Sensei” punk-meets-metal “Between the Lines” adds variety to an album that could easily become mired in distortion and unintelligible, hoarse howls.


Just as the group did with Blue Oyster Cult’s “Godzilla” in 1996 and Thin Lizzy’s “Jailbreak” in 1998, “We Must Obey” contains a Fu Manchu-ized cover of the Cars’ classic “Moving in Stereo.” The tune takes on a dark, ominous tone with heavy guitars and an inescapable groove dominating the once-poppy tune. Covers can be rather dubious outside of live records, but Fu Manchu does a practical job of covering unconventional material as well as anyone else in rock.

Fu Manchu is, at best, an acquired taste. For those who have enjoyed classic records such as “In Search of�,” “The Action is Go” or “King of the Road,” “We Must Obey” is a true return to form for a band that fans and critics alike wrote off completely in 2002. Without a true appreciation for Black Sabbath and 70s rock, however, the band could just as easily come off as another rock band.