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Album Review

VI is the F*****g Champs' first album in five years (not counting their album-length collaboration with Trans Am, 2004's Gold, under the portmanteau name the F*****g Am), and founding guitarist Josh Smith has left, leaving a retooled trio of guitarists Philip Manley and Tim Green, and drummer Tim Soete to carry on the F*****g Champs' brand of technical but not soulless, metallic but not moronic, experimental but immediately accessible, instrumental indie rock. Dropping almost all of the synthesizers that colored their albums from III through V (only the relatively brief "(Are You Channeling) That Crystal Behind You" and the acoustic pastoral "Dolores Park" feature keyboards), these 12 tracks are a return to heavy-riffing form. A couple of the jokey interlude tracks of yore — one a deadpan guitar solo cover of the standard "Abide with Me" done with the self-seriousness of vintage Spinal Tap — remain, but the meat of the album, from the crisp opener "The Loge" to the epic, 14-minute-plus closer "Column of Heads," features the F*****g Champs doing what they do best. At times, the tunes sound almost poppy, like the super-catchy main riffs that power "Earthen Sculptor" and "Spring Break," but the trio (especially Soete who, as always, overplays everywhere with gleeful panache) rarely stay in one place long enough to allow things to get too comfortable. Much more immediately appealing than the at times pointedly ugly and harsh V, VI proves that the F*****g Champs have been able to take what would seem like an inherently limited idea further than one might expect.


Formed: 1995 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

A heavy metal trio that rarely performs in front of real metal audiences, the Fucking Champs are a peculiar outfit from San Francisco who hang with the indie rock crowd, while spitting out vile, perturbed hesher music. Former Nation of Ulysses guitarist Tim Green moved to San Francisco in 1995 and quickly hooked up with drummer Tim Soete and guitarist Josh Smith. With no bass and barely any vocals, the three of them formed the Champs The sound was pure, brutal riffage, with galloping power chords...
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VI, The Fucking Champs
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