Review Summary: Brutal, bleak and honest, 36 Crazyfists return sounding as good as ever.
The most unfortunate side effect of being a musician is that you miss out on a whole lot of real life whilst touring and living on the road. There’s often a price to pay when you do what you love on a grand scale, and it’s something which Brock Lindow and the rest of 36 Crazyfists know only too well. By churning out a new album every two years between 2002 and 2010, Lindow and co. missed out on a lot of family life, but that all changed with a phone call following the release of Collisions and Castaways
. The band did the most important thing you can do when you’re reminded that your loved ones are finite, they took a break. This turned out to be not only an incredibly necessary move for Brock Lindow as a human being, but for the future of 36 Crazyfists too.
Collisions and Castaways
was 36CF on autopilot. They took you to the destination, but there were no detours, no scenery and no landmarks along the way to make the journey anything other than a simple procession. The five year break allowed the band members to grieve, to reflect on life, and to become regular citizens again, but most importantly it reignited the spark of aggression which pervaded their early work and made them so appealing. Time and Trauma
is the darkest, heaviest record they've released in years, and it sees them recapture at least some of the magic they used to have. The riffs are often more controlled than on previous releases, and guitarist Steve Holt opts for a Devil Sold His Soul approach, with heavy slabs of guitar preferred to fanciful lead work. It’s a successful formula as it complements the tone set by Lindow, and both the efficacious ‘11.24.11’ and the crushingly heavy ‘Silencer’ greet you with thick, distorted riffs which barely abate throughout.
Vocalist Brock Lindow has always been the band’s biggest selling point, and that continues to be the case here. However, to say he sounds revitalised on Time and Trauma
would be to do him a great disservice, as it would ignore the real reasons behind his improved, potent delivery. The lyrics bubbling underneath his harsh yells reveal the difficulties of the last 5 years, and they help to explain why his increasingly gruff voice is charged with intensity. When he delivers lines like: “Lately I've decorated far too many graves” on the album’s title track, or “I loved loving you was the last thing she said” on ‘11.24.11,’ you can clearly picture the scenes and imagine the realities behind the words. The stark, vivid lyrics give the album an immensely personal touch which can’t be manufactured, and it allows the listener to connect with 36CF again - something which has in truth been missing for years.
Unfortunate circumstances gave 36CF the time to step back and look at their discography, to view their evolution, and to decide if Collisions and Castaways
was really the direction they wanted to head in. The dark, crushing sound of Time and Trauma
suggests that it wasn't. Fans of their early work will be pleased by the return of the heavier sound, but the inspiration for the album and the message it conveys are infinitely more powerful than any of the crushing riffs or grating vocals. Time and Trauma
makes me want to spend time with those I love, to go the extra mile for them and to never take anything I value for granted. To be honest, a record hasn’t done that to me in years.