The term “supergroup” is often met with some apprehension, and it’s easy to see why. It would seem that for every solid collaboration of established musicians, there are always a handful of lackluster projects lurking around the corner; projects whose only claim to fame is their pedigree and are easily forgotten. It’s quite a daunting task to find an Old Man Gloom among a sea of Chickenfoots.
With the case of Crystal Fairy, however, “supergroup” is applicable here. This is not simply because of who is involved, but because the music itself is, well, super.
Crystal Fairy‘s existence is not a surprising one. Given that Le Butcherettes have toured with the Melvins and both At the Drive-In and Antemasque (one mustn’t forget the Bosnian Rainbows project either), it was only a matter of time before these musical minds converged. The Melvins‘ Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover handle guitar and drum duties respectively, while Omar Rodriguez-Lopez lays down the bass work. Naturally, Le Butcherettes’ inimitable frontwoman Teri Gender Bender is at the heart of this project, delivering her unmistakable vocal performances.
Their self-titled steamroller of an album features 11 riff-happy tracks that collectively clock-in at around 44 minutes in length. Sonically, Crystal Fairy has more in common with a Melvins release than anything else. But unlike the last several Melvins records, Crystal Fairy sidesteps the bulk of the whimsical eccentricity in favor of more storming, hard-hitting songs. Though, yes, it would have been interesting to see the group differentiate itself a bit more musically from their other endeavors, the catchiness and heaviness of these tunes are undeniable.
Tracks like “Chiseler”, “Secret Agent Rat” and “Vampire X-Mas” showcase at their most energetic and most unforgiving. Drop-tuned guitars churn out endless barrages of grooves and sludgy grit atop of barreling rhythm sections. The band relentlessly pummel the listener with riff after bellowing riff on these fast-paced, bludgeoning songs. Gender Bender is at the forefront of these metallic blitzes with her revolving door of soaring wails, quiet croons and a wealth of vocal eccentricities.
Songs such as “Drugs on the Bus” and “Moth Tongue” scale back the speed in favor of lumbering, groove-heavy sludge that stomps about with a sense of swagger. Listeners can be expected to be bobbing their head to the point of spinal damage, while Gender Bender delivers some of the catchier choruses on the entire record. Other tracks worth noting here are “Necklace of Divorce” and the eponymous cut for their emphasis on more rock-oriented song structure, which still naturally retains the Melvins-esque grime.
Perhaps the one shortcoming of the record comes from its longer songs, such as “Under Trouble”, which tend to fall prey to meandering paces and repetitive, tired passages. But these little shortcomings fail to bring the record down as Crystal Fairy still manages to be entertaining, catchy and crushing. Despite being a glorified Melvins album more than anything, Crystal Fairy is still a shining example of what a supergroup should be – a group of stellar musicians writing songs that don’t suck.
Release Date: February 24, 2017
Favorite Tracks: “Chiseler”, “Drugs on the Bus”, “Crystal Fairy” and “Secret Agent Rat”