Crystal Fairy combine tornadic forces into one dynamic whole on stunning self-titled debut

Photo by David Goldman

Photo by David Goldman

Every year, sports teams in leagues all over try to cram their teams with choice free agents, going on huge spending sprees designed to ensure championship glory. Instead, the opposite almost always happens. Whether it’s egos clashing or chemistry just not coming together, it seems jamming big personalities and talents into the same pool often leads to a team drowning, not excelling.

That example could have been applied to Crystal Fairy, a new band jamming together some incredibly well-known and noteworthy musicians into one space. Instead, the four members gelling magically, becoming a force that must be heard to be believed. Initially, it was exciting hearing Teri Gender Bender (Le Butcherettes, Bosnian Rainbows), Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (At the Drive In, the Mars Volta, Bosnian Rainbows) and Melvins members Buzz Osbourne and Dale Crover had banded together to form an insane supergroup, but what would the result be? Those are some big personalities locked into this thing, so it would be logical if everything consumed each other. Instead, everyone galvanized each other, and the four here have a synergy and chemistry that cannot be denied on their awesome self-titled debut. Over these 11 tracks, the band unleashes punk, sludge, doom, glam, you name it, with Gender Bender not-so-surprisingly ruling the entire world on vocals. In fact, for as great as her past work is, this might be her most energetic and explosive performance.

CF-Jacket-Proof6“Chiseler” begins the record on a punk-fueled assault, with the guitars trudging and wailing, and Gender Bender howling, “Hide yourself from the sun after you melt!” A strong psychedelic solo bleeds out, and that takes us into “Drugs on a Bus” that has a sneaky lead riff, organs swelling, and doom mud accumulating. The singing swelters over the top, but just as the energy flares, things cool down, the track hits storytelling mode, and the music blasts away. “Necklace of Divorce” has goddamn cock rock riffs, with Gender Bender’s vocals getting deeper and raspier. “I want nothing/You want loving!” she calls, and she gets more aggressive as the song goes, turning into an animal spirit. “Moth Tongue” is twitching and slurring at the start, with Gender Bender tearing out high-register cries that sound like heyday Geddy Lee. The guitars are fluid and a little bluesy, while the back end is heavy as shit. “Crystal Fairy” has jarring riffs, face-melting playing, and more fierce singing, with the attitude spilling out of the seams. “Secret Agent Rat” is a fun one, with sludgy riffs, the playing sneering, and the vocals delivered in Spanish. It’s a killer cut that corrodes in noise.

“Under Trouble” breaks out with spacey zapping and weird, strutting guitar work, giving off a Queens of the Stone Age vibe. This song differentiates itself from the rest of the pack and is the dirtiest, filthiest cut on the record. “Bent Teeth” lets the bass chew the scenery, as the tempo stomps away. More psyche-washed guitars spill into the scene, while the soloing lights everything ablaze, and Gender Bender rules with an iron fist. The final three tracks all tick in under three minutes and give the record a rapid-fire finish. “Posesion” is a cover of a Tales of Terror song (though theirs was spelled “Possession”), and it has delirious guitar work and bizarre, hellish imagery in the lyrics, and it’s an insane amount of fun. “Sweet Self” is dusty and weird, a cut that blasts by with Gender Bender howling, “You’re living a lie!” over and over again. Closer “Vampire X-Mas” has the most metallic approach of any of the songs, with guitars cutting through steel, and Gender Bender delivering a manic chorus where she yells, “Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! Release the bell before the snow retracts!” The track is punchy and ridiculous, putting one hell of a smoking exclamation point on the end of the album.

Yeah, so a team of all stars might not always work in other arenas, but Crystal Fairy prove you can push together major forces and come out with each member contributing positively to the greater good. Whether this record is a one-off effort or if it’s a band with a future, we’ll always have these 11 tracks that knocked us on our asses first time around and has delivered with every visit. This is a record that, if you just need something to light a fire underneath you, it will jolt your blood pressure every damn time.

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