Supergroups are often far less than the sum of their parts, but it would be a mistake to write off boygenius’ debut full-length as a whimsical side project for the trio’s illustrious members. “the record” contains some of the most brutal technical death metal and blackened crust tracks this side of Scandinavia.
Opening track “Without You Without Them” provides a quick, haunting prelude before the album hurtles into the crushing brutality of “$20.” Drummer Phoebe Bridgers’ (Goregrifters, Decrapitated) frantic, chaotic rhythms lay the jagged foundation that allow her fellow musicians to discover new depths of sonic bile. Bridgers unleashes double-kick blast beats so tight, you’d be forgiven for thinking she has four legs. The drumming in “Emily I’m Sorry” simulates gunfire and artillery perhaps a little too well— I was so scared while listening in my car that I accidentally drove into a froyo shop and hit three people and destroyed two frozen yogurt machines.
If guitarist Lucy Dacus’ (Botched Vasectomy, Mausoleum Hemsworth) dizzying sweep picking doesn’t leave your shoes covered in vomit, her revolting 8-string guitar tone will. The grinding, clanging chugs carry “Cool About It” to its epic, dissonant conclusion. Eat your fucking heart out, Meshuggah. Normally I’d complain about a 6-minute guitar solo like in “Anti-Curse,” but Lucy’s fretboard gymnastics never lull for a second.
Vocalist Julien Baker (30,000 Megatons of Shit, Casketweaver) summons sounds out of her voice that few humans have ever produced. Vicious pig squeals, guttural growls, and ghoulish black metal shrieks all make the record a horrifying, hypnotic experience. Her screams on “Satanist” make Behemoth’s “The Satanist” sound like Gordon Lightfoot. boygenius’ lyrics traffic in blasphemy in ways that would make Anton LeVey blush.
boygenius have just laid waste to the ideas of what a metal supergroup can be. Bloodbath, Dead Cross, and The Haunted all better take notes, lest they be left in the trail of brain chunks and spinal fluid left behind by “the record.”
Score: 5 out of 5 botched vasectomies