For Fans Of
In a perfect world, 36 Crazyfists would enjoy an acclaim usually reserved for more publicised musical groups. Much like the US state they hail from, the band is recognised but in equal ways, overlooked when discussing prominent and contemporary heavy hitters. It is not to say that the band is underrated or the perennial underdogs of the metal scene, rather they have been a group on the cusp of things for some time now, whose endeavours have largely gone unheralded as a whole.
Fifth studio album, ‘Collisions and Castaways’ is precise, confident and exact but suggests that the band will still assume their standing in the ‘middle ground’ after these proceedings have filtered through to the listener and music analysts alike. However, that’s not to say that this album is doom and gloom. In fact, far from it.
Part of the problem though (if we can call it that) might be attributed to the band’s diverse and rounded sound. The Alaskan quartet has always been too heavy for a mainstream rock embrace while similarly they have had too much melody to be claimed by the fickle metal purists. For many bands, the ability not to pick a certain style and add some sort of musical framework and/or boundaries would be considered a strong weakness. For 36 Crazyfists it is arguably their greatest strength. There is no ambiguity to their sound, style or overall output. The heavy parts are defined and the contrasting melody is pulled off with subtle ease.
Casting a cursory eye over the 36 Crazyfists back catalogue we see albums that share a common thread – each are solid, dependable and respected, but never anything more epic or inspired. The sound has focused more on honesty rather than grandeur, consistency rather than splendour, and so forth.
‘Collisions and Castaways’ follows a similar script but with different nuances. It is the predictability of the band’s sound that invites the listener in. But, the new musical additions that leave them interested. Lead song and the album’s brightest point, ‘Reviver’ is a prime example of 36 Crazyfists’ appeal. Catchy, heavy, fast, and moody. While, ‘Trenches’ has that very relatable yet slightly twisted melody to it that is juxtaposed with louder, more abrasive sections. Opener, ‘In the Midnights’ begins quite unassumingly but builds to a clear introduction. With ‘Caving in Spirals’ coming in at the lighter end of the spectrum.
To be turning out good releases after sixteen years is a lot more than we can say for most bands that have enjoyed the same musical life period. Once again, a reliable and pleasing release with some noteworthy moments but nothing that suggests the band is going to receive that much-deserved universal praise…just yet.
‘Collisions and Castaways’ is a clear representation of a band arguably in their prime. That is not to say album five is a faultless offering, with a case mounted that this release is a tad complacent, but long time fans must still appreciate 36 Crazyfists’s loyalty to their sound. There is no trepidation when pressing play. You get exactly what you expect, complete with a bit of polish and effort. Not an ‘album of the year’ contender but still worthy of a few plays on the stereo.
1. In the Midnights
3. Mercy and Grace
4. Death Renames the Light
6. Long Roads to Late Nights
9. Caving in Spirals
10. The Deserter
11. Waterhaul II