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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 can 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.

Boomstick turns the Nigel knob up to 11. 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 doesn't know the meaning of sexist.

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. 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.

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Andrew Miller

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