Review Summary: The sound of a band starting to give up
Despite their recent accommodation into the more accessible realm of “mainstream metalcore”, 36CF are a band that I’ve always managed to have a lot of time for. Yes, they’ve never been the most innovative or cutting edge band on the scene, but constant travels through my music collection have seen the boys as the final destination on a number of occasions. Everyone has that band that they’ve grown up with; you know, that scrappy little underdog that managed to grab you just as puberty started misfiring unnecessary amounts of emotion through your system, sucked you in because they spoke directly to you, and made every song an anthem just for you. 36CF are that band for me; I matured as they did, suffered all of life’s little oddities and dilemmas as they did, and shared late nights and long bus rides with them. The boys always had time to give, always had a word or a line that always suited the occasion, be it uplifting or at the very least, accommodating and understanding. Bitterness The Star
was my shield for the longest of times, only really ever replaced by the crisp sleekness of their follow up, A Snow Capped Romance
. I wore those albums to death, turned them inside out, studied them intricately and learned every part. But you know, we all grow up sometime, and while I’ve managed to finally thrown on a pair of man pants and move on, they’ll always manage to be “that band” to me; and just as they defended me for so long, so too would I (at great length) do the same for them. Collisions and Castaways
has robbed me of the ability to do that properly now.
Perhaps it was a stab at a bigger spotlight that saw the band adopt their now common place Killswitch-isms during the recording of Rest Inside The Flames
, because god knows the fists have gone criminally overlooked for pretty much the whole length of their 16 year career. It wasn’t a full overhaul in the blueprint of their music, but a distinct change was registered and noted. It was an aesthetic more toyed with than fully embraced though, a breakdown scattered intermittently throughout the cacophony designed to interrupt rather than to carry. The Tide and Its Takers
cranked it all up a few notches more, and introduced a new vocal delivery that perhaps served as the biggest deterrent. 36CF shamelessly sold their vocalist as their biggest drawing point simply because it was warranted, the man had pipes (and to a degree still does). So when your shining star goes guttural, a solid musical backing better be the least you can muster. Well while they spiraled down with their last record, Collisions & Castaways
plumbs new depths that I didn’t think could exist within this group. Yes, its energizing and sure, when I listen to this it makes me want to get all rowdy and fight and *** (I don’t recall ever having those particular reactions before), but for every inspired idea, every interesting guitar lick, faults arise that just shouldn’t exist, simply because every other “modern metalcore” band has them as well.
But this is 36 Crazyfists, and even though this is music done to death by a staggering amount of other groups, they’re still a band that does manage to do it better than most. The most noticeable difference on offer here is Steve Holt’s increased comfortableness around his guitar. Every cut features wall of sound guitars, double tracked so as to come across as constantly in turmoil; riffs are stacked on top of riffs, changing on a dime, shifting effortlessly between standard fare chug and swelling burst of chord progressions. Noonan’s drumming has sadly fared worse; whereas Rest Inside The Flames
was filled with quirky and varied drum fills, here he resorts to standard patterns and an over reliance in double pedal action. The running joke of bass in a metalcore album continues, albeit in a slightly more subdued fashion. It’s noticeable in every track, but I could put money on that being uber-mixer Andy Sneap’s deft touch at work. And Brock does hit great poignant moments when he jumps into “clean” mode, revealing just how toothless some of his peers really are, but goddamn if those gutturals aren’t a slap in the face to what he’s actually capable of.
So while ‘In The Midnights’ is a promising and alluring introduction, and ‘The Deserter’ reveals a level of harshness previously unheard of by these four Anchorage lads, the tedium, ultimately, prevails more than I’d really like to admit. Collisions and Castaways
is the sound of a once hugely promising band starting to give up.
"If this was the end of the band, this record is exactly what I wanted our band to do at one time, Maybe a lot of people will think we're just metalcore, but it's so much more than that. It's a heavy record with some big choruses and everything we've been about for a long time with a cool metal feel to it that I've been wanting
Take me back to 2004 when everything about this band was fresh and invigorating. I mean come on guys, I’ll regress if you will as well.