When I was in college, a friend told me to pick up an album called A Snowcapped Romance. I figured “Why not?” and did so without much question. I immediately became enthralled with the group that produced this lively and melodically diverse record. Since then, I have always kept a special place in my playlist for 36 CRAZYFISTS. I even talked one of my previous bands into covering their song “Bloodwork”. I’m sure others have done more. For those among the cult following that the group has forged over 20+ years, the connection to this band runs incredibly deep.
The group’s latest effort, Lanterns, drops September 29 via Spinefarm Records and for their eighth full length, the quartet went in a slightly more aggressive direction than what has been heard in their past. However, this is not overly surprising for a group that has tweaked their sound many times over and yet still manages to keep the root of that sound intact. For me, this is a decided improvement to the more melancholy sounds heard on their previous disc, Time and Trauma. Now, I know that may be sacrilege, but I just wasn’t as taken aback by that offering as I would have hoped; especially considering the five years I waited for the follow up to Collisions and Castaways.
The whole thing kicks off with “Death Eater”, a rustling thrasher with more than enough energy to blow the doors off. The liveliness continues on tracks such as “Wars to Walk Away From”, “Better to Burn”, “Bandage for Promise” and “Below the Graves”, with monster riffs, but that taste of melody that 36CF fans have come to love. Mellow points also find their place among the storm, with “Where the Revenge Ends” and “Dark Corners”. The latter starts off a bit similar to “The City Ignites” from Rest Inside the Flames, but quickly veers off on it’s own melodic path. The highpoint of the record, easily, is the track “Sleepsick”, it’s among their heaviest numbers, but also presents the strongest hook on the album.
The longevity of 36 CRAZYFISTS is astounding, especially considering the group has never submitted to altering their identity to fit with the changing trends of the genre. Instead, the group has evolved to incorporate additional elements into their sound, while retaining the crux of their musical individuality. This record brings a refreshingly altered spark to the sea of overly aggressive acts that saturate the scene today; it finds the right nooks and crannies to fulfill all the needed gaps in the listener’s palette: it’s heavy where it needs to be, yet brings the mellow, soulfulness to counteract and add contrast. It’s abrasive yet offers heaps of melodic charm. It’s a solid addition to the collection from a group that’s already produced so much great music. Grab Lanterns on September 29 and thank me later.
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM