36 Crazyfists - The Tide And Its Takers
Ferret Records
11 songs (42:52)
Release year: 2008
36 Crazyfists, Ferret Records
Reviewed by Goat

A few years ago, all the way back in 2004 when Metalcore was just emerging as the commercial end’s successor to Nu-Metal, and bands actually tried something new instead of ripping others off, there was a young band from Alaska that did rather well for themselves with their third album A Snow Capped Romance. It was actually one of the albums that helped get me into heavier music, and giving it another listen in preparation for this review it’s surprising how well it has held up, the progressive influences coming through clearly and the songs being as well written as before.

Unfortunately for 36 Crazyfists (named after a Jackie Chan film) they failed to build on this success, tours with the likes of Killswitch Engage and Poison The Well hardly helping the band to develop their (then) pretty unique sound. The result, 2006’s Rest Inside The Flames, was a decent effort yet Roadrunner decided not to release it in North America, after which the band were subsequently dropped. Despite this, it did well enough in the U.K of all places (reaching number 71 on our mainstream album charts) that a deal was struck with DRT Entertainment and the album was released in the US, selling a grand total of 1858 copies in the first week.

Many bands would call it a day after such a downfall, yet 36C (as fans know them) stubbornly pressed on and a new album is now out on Ferret Music. You have to admire their spirit – they formed in 1994, so are practically elder statesmen of the genre – yet for a band that so aggressively sticks to their path, it’s a shame how much influence they’ve taken from the modern Hardcore set. Candace Kucsulain (from rubbish nearly-made-it-but-weren’t-good-enough failcore horde Walls Of Jericho) guest vocals on Vast And Vague (the melodic section of which is one of the standouts, perversely) and the similarly C-grade Twelve Tribes’ Adam Jackson pops up on Clear The Coast, and the influence from those bands is sadly clear. Opening track The All Night Lights starts exactly like a track from the former, before morphing into a more typical 36C melodic verse, thrashy guitars making an all too short appearance before being dropped in favour of Hardcore ‘heaviness’.

This happens throughout the album. Under the screams and (almost cynical) breakdowns, you can hear the little bit of originality that 36 Crazyfists have left, trying desperately to make itself heard. As you’d expect from this identity struggle, the resulting songs are practically schizophrenic, the Alt Rock melodies (that this band could do so much with if the increasingly idiotic ‘Core sections were dropped) being drowned out. Sure, singalong epic sections like the one in first single We Gave It Hell are great as long as they last, but the inevitable breakdown spoils things like a fat man at an orgy.

Having said that, there are interesting moments here. A female/male spoken-word section on Only A Year Or So works well because it’s the band giving in to their experimental impulses, and although the subsequent ‘heavy’ bit sounds exactly like the Deftones it stands out simply because it’s different. If someone gave 36 Crazyfists some Mr Bungle CDs, and their label let them go a little crazy, we might even end up with a masterpiece - the result of a band with hidden talents allowing them to shine.

As things stand 36 Crazyfists have recently toured with Napalm Death, and apparently Barney Greenway will be guesting on the next album - assuming they can find someone to release it, of course. Napalm Death are awesome, no doubt about it, but they’re entirely the wrong influence on a band like this that needs to get in touch with its melodic side if the members wants to make a name for themselves outside of the moshpit. It’s impossible not to think that a tour with, say, Coheed & Cambria would be better, showing just how a band can progress along a melodic route without losing that fist-in-the-air quality.

Ultimately, under the bullshit lies a perfectly good Alt. Rock band with progressive overtones, and despite the glimpses given here which make The Tide And Its Takers more palatable than practically any other genericore band you can name, there’s much work to go before another album half as good as A Snow Capped Romance appears. The ‘killing’ moments mentioned below are tempered by one hell of a lot of bog-standard Hardcore shite, making them hard to enjoy – if you have no tolerance whatsoever for Hardcore then take another 30 off the score given below. To the band direct, a plea from a former fan: a little musical evolution and a lot more discernment about who you tour with will do you the world of good. Until the day that positive change comes, the knowledge that 36 Crazyfists are still going is all that you need to know about them.

Killing Songs :
We Gave It Hell, Waiting On A War, Only A Year Or So…, Vast And Vague, Northern November
Goat quoted 45 / 100
Other albums by 36 Crazyfists that we have reviewed:
36 Crazyfists - Time and Trauma reviewed by Goat and quoted 65 / 100
36 Crazyfists - Collisions And Castaways reviewed by Goat and quoted 79 / 100
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