Review Summary: 36 Crazyfists' sloppy and mistake-prone behavior demeans Collisions and Castaways to a bottom feeder among their previous work.
The first time I was exposed to 36 Crazyfists was at MayhemFest 2008. All I knew about them at the time was that they played on the same stage as Underoath, who I was really there to see. I won’t soon forget being in the second row of the pit, close enough almost to touch lead vocalist Brock Lindow (he actually landed on me one of the times he jumped into the crowd). I loved everything about 36’s show, from the great riffing to Brock’s solid lines to the extremely energetic performance from the entire band. 36 actually stole the show that day in my mind. Of course I would later give them a pretty good listen, to be surprised at how average they actually were.
A couple years later, 36 came out with Collisions and Castaways
, which I had pretty big hopes for since it was their first album in a little while and I was in need of some good new music. After the first minute of listening, I knew exactly what the rest of the album was going to sound like. They almost made no attempt to sound different from other metalcore bands at all, and the subsequent release became immeasurably boring and generic. Collisions and Castaways
is 45 minutes of great riffing and metal brought down by predictable breakdowns, poor songwriting, and painfully bad screaming.
Breakdowns are to be expected from a metalcore band. I was hoping Brock and the boys would have developed enough songwriting savvy to make the breakdowns complement and build on their sound, but instead they act as pointless detours; much like taking an exit ramp off of a highway just to grab the next entrance ramp back up to the highway. Point being, too much of this record sounds similar.
36 certainly has the god-given talent to be a top-of-the pack band. Steve Holt is a very capable guitarist, Thomas Noonan is above average on the skins, and bassist Brett Makowski is decent when audible, which sadly (and predictably) isn’t enough. The real thing that sticks out in C and C
is how terrible Brock’s screams sound. Having seen him live in person and in YouTube videos, I know Brock is a pretty good screamer. The only way I can describe his scream on this record is airy and rather weak. He never makes you step back and think ‘wow, this guy can scream!’ To be honest, his screams throughout most of the album are cringe-worthy. He sounds better on some songs than others, for example in “Death Renames the Light” he provides some pretty decent, stronger-sounding screams. A lot of people aren’t too high on his cleans, but I have always liked them due to their uniqueness. His cleans sound similar to previous releases in C and C
, so that could be a plus or a minus depending on your taste.
Most of C and C
is relentless, bash-your-face-in metal. Aforementioned “Death Renames the Light” might be the heaviest song on the album, carried by a simply badass riff from Holt. The band does provide some changes of pace, though. There are a few down moments, some good some bad. Opener “In the Midnights” begins slowly, but builds up to kick the ferocity off. Second track “Whitewater” has a sing-a-long moment much too similar to “The All Night Lights” from previous album The Tide and Its Takers
. “Long Road to the Late Nights” exits the aggressiveness highway, and the whole album is put on hold for two minutes of unexplainable soft instrumentation. The next track “Trenches” enters back onto the highway in a frustratingly awkward manner, just to deliver a badly lackluster chorus.
As I said, not all changes of pace were bad. Ninth track, “Caving in Spirals” is another random slow down moment, but actually ends up being an extremely interesting and attention grabbing song; one of the best on the album. Closer “Waterhaul II” teeters back and forth from heavy to soft rather nimbly and is a good way to end the album.
Collisions and Castaways
would actually be a strong album if 36 was able to limit its mistakes. Unfortunately, the mistakes are just too common and visible. Too many songs sound similar, Brock’s screaming is a problem, and the album’s flow is downright schizophrenic. Luckily, Steve Holt and his guitar make a huge redeeming quality, and there are enough good tracks to counteract the poor ones. This still doesn’t help a whole lot, because I still believe this album is a two. I know 36 can put together something better than this record; it's just a matter of learning from these mistakes.
“Mercy and Grace”
“Death Renames the Light”
“Caving in Spirals”