The Fucking Champs have been playing the role of Bombastic Metal Band in their own home videos for more than a decade now. Lot’s of things about them suggest caricature; a world-conquering band name that only guarantees a limited audience; song titles like “I Love the Spirit World and I Love Your Father” that have their tongues so far into their cheeks they’re practically poking out the other side; promo shots capturing the unassuming trio amid barren landscapes or in front of the setting sun. But it’s not a joke, even if the Champs can’t help chuckle; under photos of cragged rocks and desert sand is three albums’ worth of churning, instrumental whiplash.
The band’s fourth album, VI (out-of-order numerical album titles, a screwy homage to hard-rock godfathers Led Zeppelin), skews heavily toward the members’ prog-rock kicks. Opener “The Loge” chugs, thrashes, and chugs again, a three-minute capsule of the record. VI flirts with but never touches down into actual metal; at just less than fifty minutes the album breezes by, lighthearted guitar calisthenics that shine bright dominating the sound, more for head nodding than banging. “Play on Words” even provides a minute-and-a-half tangent of acoustic meanderings. It’s a flitting, almost soothing affair; compact, intent, and ultimately forgettable, but not while it’s still spinning.
But an album like this isn’t meant for digestion; that’s not the point. This is Friday-night-basement music. It does exactly what it wants to do, which is not that much. The Fucking Champs are missing ambition, not chops. Good for them.