Paradoxically, metal bands tend to take themselves too seriously, which keeps outsiders from taking their music seriously. It’s difficult to add levity to lyrics about ritual sacrifices, cannibalism and other gnarly topics, but even heavy outfits that aren’t death-obsessed burden listeners with tales of angst and alienation. The hard-stuff scene needs a real-life Spinal Tap, a group that can wink its way through “Big Bottom”-type tunes without sacrificing its classic-rock crunch.
More than any other area outfit, Boomstick turns the Nigel knob up to eleven. For starters, the group’s bassist goes by Ghengis Von Manroot. The album title, Maximum Tunageness, is appealingly absurd. And midway through the trio’s debut disc, Boomstick declares, in flawless a cappella harmony, I wanna be in a boy band. The same song later declares I could make Britney squeal like a whore, which should get a rise out of the Club Wars crowds, but there’s no malicious, misogynistic intent. Like Tap, Boomstick wouldn’t know the meaning of sexist.
But despite its humorous tone, Maximum Tunageness is no lightweight lark. There are some serious solos here, gorgeous guitar interludes that emphasize melody instead of speed. The riffs seem freshly released from an ’80s-dated time capsule, but the group arranges them with a choppy flair that occasionally recalls short-haired precisionists such as Helmet. Galactic Celt eschews the modern-metal vocalist’s gruff bark, opting for a tuneful delivery that’s friendly without being fey. Boomstick has the chops to keep the hard-core headbangers engaged and enough personality to ensure that uninitiated observers laugh with the group, not at it.