36 Crazyfists are a band that people over here in the UK are sadly, yet to catch onto. It is a shame, because a lot of people are missing out on their interesting mix of post-hardcore, metalcore and elements of nu-metal, because of factors such as media coverage. At the same time the somewhat small fan base that they have this side of the Atlantic may actually be thankful for this; as we know it is a shame to see a band that you’re a fan of become so celebrated by the masses that you start to lose respect for them. There is very little danger of 36CF reaching this level of mainstream popularity over here, but you can’t help but feel that 36 Crazyfists are still, in many cases, a (criminally) underrated band, often overlooked in favour of more popular metalcore bands like As I Lay Dying or Killswitch Engage.
What makes the aforementioned KSE popular are the brilliant, powerful vocals of Howard Jones, and with 36 Crazyfists it is that same thing that distinguishes them from other similar bands – the vocals. Brock Lindow has a very unique voice. It is a warbling voice, which sounds almost like he is gargling, yet is very, very powerful when it needs to be. However, it can easily be likened to Marmite – you will either love it or hate it; and while many do
love it, many don’t and perhaps this is what is holding the band back. Nevertheless, Brock has a brilliant voice and helps add to the band’s sound. The band themselves stand out from other metalcore bands because they mix in other genres of music, they don’t solely play standard metalcore. As well as mixing in some post-hardcore and standard rock, they don’t show off by playing guitar solos, instead they tend to break it down and have thinly textured bridges.
The two singles with accompanying videos are dispatched early on. These two singles are ‘At The End of August’
. The album opener is ‘At The End of August’
and this ensures that the album starts out on the right foot with some solid musicianship and Brock’s opening vocals hitting like a punch to the face. It builds up from distant ambient sounds, with the texture gradually thickening and the guitar leading the way to the first screams of the album. The simple, yet memorable chorus is the final touch to the song and makes it a very solid opener. You may remember the accompanying video to ‘Bloodwork’
, it was tongue-in-cheek homage to ninja movies, that was appropriate and not only because the band got their name from a Jackie Chan movie of the same name (in Chinese). It is also appropriate because at times punches and kicks could be thrown to the music. The verse’s thin texture of single guitar notes and a tight rhythm section make the chorus sound even more crushing than it already is. The other single from the album was the ‘poppiest’ song on the album, and that is ‘Destroy The Map’
. The guitar riff is instantly catchy and much happier sounding than any other riff on the album. The verse is very bass heavy, sparse guitar over the top and the drums maintaining a simple beat. What is immediately noticeable about the track is the guest vocals from Raithon Clay. He is not a bad singer by any means, but his vocals pale in comparison with Brock’s and the song is one of the weakest on the album despite actually being a pretty good song in it’s own right.
The ‘pop nonsense’ of ‘Destroy The Map’
is followed by a much heavier song in ‘Installing the Catheter’
. It is the song that at their shows they organise the big circle-pits to, and is a very strong song too. It has a stop/start quality, almost syncopated quality to it, before exploding into the chorus: “Don’t be removed, I got you where I said that I would always put you…”
it starts off as the best chorus on the album by a country mile – soaring and heavy, but after these two lines it sadly falls flat. Nevertheless, it is a very good track, especially with its very heavy breakdown; with screams of “I design what ails!”
. The band write very good breakdowns as it turns out, and each of them make each particular song more interesting. There is another very heavy breakdown in ‘The Heart and the Shape’
, a song that like‘Installing the Catheter’
, has a verse that sounds jagged and syncopated that contrasts its more standard chorus very nicely indeed. This song is an excellent example of Brock Lindow’s brilliant voice, as he manages to scream uncompromisingly heavy, while still maintaining the audibility of each individual word in the lyrics. After having a very heavy start to the album, where energy levels aren’t allowed to drop, we have a brief respite in the form of ‘Song for the Fisherman’
. It is a tribute to their native Alaska, a place that the band is very proud to call home. The voice is distant and talks of life in Alaska, Brock talks of friendships that he would have died for, over relaxing music consisting of what sounds like the guitar playing scales while the drums maintain a steady beat. It is a short (only 1:27), relaxing break, and a great ode to their home state.
There are several other examples of their fondness for their native Alaska, with the most obvious being the titling of ‘Kenai’
. It has a traditional post-hardcore structure of screamed verse/sung, melodic chorus and uses a bridge that the band do so well. In this case they drop into the bridge very suddenly, as they are prone to do, and they do so very well before building up into one last chorus. It is followed by the melancholy sounding ‘Skin and Atmosphere’
. The verse would be unusual for most bands, but doesn’t sound out of place here on a 36CF album. The instruments sound like they are doing more-or-less their own thing, but by keeping a common ground it all fits in together, despite the instrumental, and vocal for that matter, parts sounding decidedly different.
The album as a whole is very strong throughout-that is, until the end. The last two songs are weak and make for a disappointing end to the album. Sure, the way ‘Cure Eclipse’
has screams over a pre-recorded radio sample that repeats vocal lines may be interesting, but apart from that the song does very little to stand out. Closer ‘Waterhaul’
starts out slow and then explodes suddenly, but slowly; again, the track as a whole is nothing special. It is as if they are trying in vain to make it a special album closer, but instead, intentionally or not, it sounds frustrated, claustrophobic even. But this is unfortunately a bad thing in this case, and it soon fades away into the cold Alaskan night.
Aside from the last two tracks ‘A Snow Capped Romance’ is a very strong follow-up album from the Alaskan quartet. Their mix of metalcore, post-hardcore and rock is an interesting one, and at times here is done perfectly. All four of them are obviously very capable at their own instrument (or vocals) and by resisting the urge to show off their abilities with flashy solos, or unnecessary sections, they have created very solid, very direct songs here. 36 Crazyfists will most likely never be the most popular metalcore band in the world, but they are certainly one of the most unique, and at times, one of the best, and on ‘A Snow Capped Romance’ they have proved this well.