Review Summary: 36 Crazyfists are still a solid band
The Tide and its Takers (2008):
36 Crazyfists has remained as an underrated band, often mislabeled as a “generic metalcore” band, sadly eclipsed by more popular acts like Killswitch Engage and As I Lay Dying (Who definitely wear the “generic metalcore kings” title).
When they signed up to Roadrunner recors back in ’00, they had already released 2 EP’s an 1 full length, but the album that’s often credited as their debut is their “Bitterness the star,” which was released in 2002. Back then 36 CF had a STRONG nu-metal sound, with high pitched/emotional singing and emphasis on melody rather than heaviness (think about Glassjaw’s Everything You Wanted To Know…). Their sound has changed with each release, but somehow they’ve managed to make solid sounding records, with enough catchiness and creativity to undoubtedly hook the casual listener.
The Tide and its Takers is their first release in Ferret Music. This time they tried to do some sort of concept album. Instead of following a storyline, the album revolts around one subject, I guess it’s about being astray In the ocean, and all the emotional stages you go through.
The way this album sounds like is diverse enough to escape from the “generic metalcore” label. it’s sort of a mixture between post-hardcore, alternative metal, a bit of punk, a bit of metalcore, and even some nu-metal. They don’t abuse cliché elements like breakdowns, lifeless pseudo- technical riffs and the harsh verse/melodic chorus formula like most of the bands out there. They seem to follow the traditional “Intro/Verse/Chorus/Verse/Chorus/Bridge/Chorus” song structure, but they have enough creativity to craft solid sounding songs while avoiding repetitiveness. If you analyze their verses, they don’t just repeat one riff over and over again, they often vary their riffs before entering next section to sound more interesting.
Their guitar work is far from being something stellar, or something unique, but it works perfectly thanks to the fact that the band doesn’t focus on showing their technical abilities. The drumming is nothing special as well, and the bass is unfortunately barely heard. The way the band sounds like altogether works perfectly, they often bring catchy rhythms with memorable riffs with a fair sense of melody. They have occasional breakdowns in a couple of songs, but they fit well.
What makes the band really shine is the vocalist Brock Lindow, who has really got an unique voice. He has a very powerful and high pitchced voice, sometimes a bit nasal, kind of Daryl Palumbo meets Dexter Holland. His screamed vocals are also kind of high-pitched and raspy, definitely an acquired taste. Instead of sticking to the formula of writing screamed verses and sung choruses, he mixes both his singing and screaming in a less predictable way. His voice really shines through this album.
Lyrically, this has been 36 CF’s best work, as I mentioned before, this is could be seen as a concept album. I´m not 100% what’s the story behind the concept, but it seems as if the whole album is written in metaphoric language. It talks about being on a ship, wandering astray in the ocean, and the obvious facts that affect you (distance, nostalgia, fear, insecurity, not being with your loved ones, etc). It seems to me that Brock Lindow is a very nostalgic person, judging his lyrical work in this and their previous releases. He also seems to be smart enough to write lyrics that avoid overused ideas frequently seen in metalcore/post-hardcore bands.
The album’s pace is constantly changing, it is well balanced between aggressive songs, energetic songs, mellow songs, and melodic songs. “The All Night Lights” is clearly the most metalcore influenced song in here, but it’s a powerful opener that shows 36 CF’s edgy side. “The Back Harlow Road” is probably the best song here, it’s a melodic song that summarizes what 36 CF does so damn well, and Lindow’s voice shines all the way through the song until he reaches a superb climax in the bridge. Another album highlight is “Waiting on a War,” which is another melodic song that has an epic feel, probably the best guitar work in the whole album. Just like RITF ended with acoustic “The City Ignites,” this one closes with the acoustic “The Tide and its Takers.” The title track is arguably the best acoustic 36 CF song.
So without a single doubt, this is a solid release and 36 CF are still really good at what they do. However, after listening to their previous releases, this one is nothing new, it doesn’t sound much different from their last albums. Overall the band sounds tighter, but they have lost some catchiness, which is probably why it didn't hook me up the first time I listened to it. If you listened to "Absent are the Saints" and labeled them "generic metalcore," well, the album sounds a lot different (objectivly speaking).
-Brock Lindow (superb clean vocals)
-The instrumentation brings nothing new to the table
-Brock Lindow (harsh vocals are not his strong side)
-Lyrics are OK, but seem a bit disorganized
"The Back Harlow Road"
"Waiting on a War"
"Vast and Vague"
"The All Night Lights"