Supergroups are a generally under-whelming venture, fuelled by overzealous hype merchants and punters alike, yet the debut effort from Crystal Fairy is a refreshing shift from the norm. Comprised of Buzz & Dale of The Melvins, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez of At The Drive In/Mars Volta fame and Le Butcherettes vocalist Teri Gender Bender, the group have successfully managed to bottle lightning. The LP is absolutely rife with bulging riffs, channelling the collective filth of all previous ventures and harnessing them into a surprisingly symbiotic, cohesive unit.
The seemingly ostentatious collaboration came about after Le Butcherettes supported The Melvins on legs of their 2014 and 2015 tours, respectively, a fledgling friendship between Teri and her Melvins’ counterparts blossomed into an exciting working relationship. The addition of Rodriguez-Lopez was a fortunate coincidence, the Mars Volta founder was shadowing the bands as a documentary photographer. Following the conclusion of the tour, the foursome got together firstly in Los Angeles and then El Paso, Texas to produce utter carnage in the studio.
The album roars into life with ‘Chiseler’. A grungy, frenetic entrée which prepares the palette for the beefy onslaught of riffs to ensue. A hectic pace is complimented by soaring vocal hooks intricately weaving on top of the instrumental section, it’s primal, aggressive and inherently reeks of classic Melvins material but with an added spice. ‘Drugs On The Bus’ is arguably the stand out track on the LP, the main riff has a similar viscosity to that of refrigerated tarmacadam. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine Osbourne stated his desire to entice a heavier sound from lead singer Teri, “I wanted to do something that brought her into a little more of a heavy metal thing than she had been used to.” The pay-off has been supreme, on the track ‘Crystal Fairy’ Bender delivers an empowered vocal performance and truly holds her own in the murky cacophony of sound that the title track degrades into.
Rather surprisingly however, the songs come across as radio friendly to a certain extent. Don’t hold your breath on mainstream airplay but it’s easy to imagine these tracks bellowing out across your generic Rock station. ‘Necklace of Divorce’ is an embodiment of this contradictory sentiment, it’s volatile but in an almost commercial way. It’s a classic rock track essentially shrouded in a layer of grungy smog. ‘Moth Tongue’ is another high point yet at its crux is basically a Melvins song with female vocals, not that it’s a bad thing, it works well.
Crystal Fairy has roared into life with this debut, an aggressive and violent album with the pros outweighing the cons. Teri Gender Bender’s performance on lead vocals is thrilling whilst the combination Dale and Buzz is tried and tested, but at points Omar’s basslines are lost in the murky mix. A capricious and excitable start to proceedings, none the less.