Published Feb 22, 2017Crystal Fairy is a supergroup featuring Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover of the Melvins, Teri Gender Bender of Le Butcherettes and Omar Rodríguez-López of At the Drive-In and the Mars Volta. Most of those artists collaborated on a cover of Bikini Kill's "Rebel Girl," but the majority of their self-titled debut is much slower and heavier, closer to the sludge metal the Melvins are known for.
Album opener and outlier "Chiseler" is annoying and skippable hard rock like Avenged Sevenfold, or even Nickelback; thankfully, the rest of the album is relatively palatable sludge/doom metal, at its best evoking Windhand, but at times a bit chunkier. The riffs in their nature are heavy but pretty repetitive, so it's Gender Bender's vocals that really stand out.
Like many great metal singers, Gender Bender's voice is theatrical and virtuosic, with dramatic melodic leaps, a howling vibrato at times and a wild range in terms of both pitch and dynamics. She brings some idiosyncrasies too: The title-track, "Crystal Fairy," features a fun, Kim-Gordon-ish spoken part in the middle, wherein Gender Bender calls out "Hey yo, Crystal, do you want a cigarette?" and then laughs. "Secret Agent Rat" is sung in Spanish, while the a cappella third verse of "Drugs on the Bus" is sung with intensity and weird timing.
Overall, the music is fine, but certainly not captivating (down-tuned, distorted, minor key riffs have proliferated with the huge number of bands influenced by the Melvins- the burden of aging innovators). Teri Gender Bender's vocals are the star and the driving force here, pretty much the only truly engaging element. (Ipecac)