36 Crazyfists - Collisions And Castaways
Ferret Records
11 songs (44:56)
Release year: 2010
36 Crazyfists, Ferret Records
Reviewed by Goat

Although being a long-term fan of this band as one of my early ’core favourites with A Snow-Capped Romance, I’ve struggled up until lately to enjoy subsequent albums from the Alaskan mosh crew. Blame it on the oversaturation of the genre, but something about Rest Inside The Flames and The Tide And Its Takers rubbed me the wrong way when I listened to them at the time of release. Whatever the reason, giving them a selective going-over before embarking on the band’s new album, they’re a lot better than I remembered. And Collisions And Castaways is even better, the best I’ve heard from 36 Crazyfists in years, sounding rather fresh in these Deathcore dominated years despite the band not having really changed their formula at all. Sure, there are small improvements here and there (those early hints of Nu Metal long gone in favour of fashionable hardcore) but they’re around the edges rather than at the core of the band’s sound, serving as a fresh bucket of water over what now must be a very sea-worn ship indeed. Still, 36 Crazyfists have survived where their peers have fallen by being intense about their personal brand of metalcore, and pushing their Alaskan background. Aside from some obscure female politician you probably haven’t heard of, there seems to be very little of note coming from Alaska, so why not associate sea-obsessed melodic metalcore with that part of the world?

The first thing to note about 36 Crazyfists is the passion that runs through their veins and turns otherwise average songs into pit anthems. Opener In The Midnights is a stunner, near-ambient acoustic strums turning to ferocity and surprising heaviness, battering drums and very varied guitarwork from Steve Holt (STEVE HOLT!) from woozy hardcore distance to almost technical metal riffage. The highlight is, of course, vocalist Brock Lindow and his hardcore snarl that yes, can turn melodic at the drop of a chorus, but unlike many his clean singing voice is neither whiny nor painful, but distinctive and well-placed. In over fifteen years of existence, the band have their songwriting craft down pat, and some surprising twists and turns are thrown in along the journey to keep things fresh – the aforementioned In The Midnights has a subtle progginess to its structure that makes its five minute-plus running time fly by, whilst the engaging melodies of the likes of Mercy And Grace keep those with an ear for the more post-hardcore elements hooked.

Sure, there are plenty of pit anthems here, and the likes of Whitewater and Death Renames The Light are sure to get the bodies heaving, being smoothly violent and full of the sort of riffage that Soulfly is currently getting kudos for. There’s even guitar solos here and there, generally slightly buried beneath the other instruments and vocals, but still guitar solos – the more steps 36 Crazyfists take towards full-on Metal status the better. Despite not being quite there yet, there’s a genuine chilly atmospheric touch to the likes of Anchors, inspired and nearly epic melodic interludes to the raging hardcore, which propels the band high above the monotonous likes of Hatebreed. It’s a well-crafted album, little thoughtful moments like interlude Long Roads To The Late Nights a pleasant surprise. You have to like hardcore, of course, and on this site especially that’s nothing to assume people are in favour of – I can imagine several forumites making faces at the down and brutal stomp of several tracks, despite the overall move towards experimental realms. The Deserter, for one, has notable Melodeath influence to it, complete with the best solo on the album from Steve Holt (STEVE HOLT!) a very capable guitarist when given his chance.

If you haven’t heard A Snow-Capped Romance, I doubt that hunting it down now will convert you, but the pull for me was the really stellar songwriting, proving that a good time can be had even from such ingredients, and 36 Crazyfists are clearly attempting to channel that fully here where they’ve only managed to do so partially in the albums between. The fact that this album ends with a sequel to the final track of its predecessor, the genuinely great Waterhaul, mixing post-hardcore melody with the band’s special coastal atmosphere to perfect effect – if all their songs were this good, 36 Crazyfists would rule the world. Alas, they’re not, and whilst Waterhaul II here is a good follow-up, it’s not quite as good as the original. Neither’s the album as a whole, but fans will be cheered by 36 Crazyfists’ enduring quality, and Collisions And Castaways proves that a much-maligned genre still has fruits to bear.

Killing Songs :
In The Midnights, Anchors, The Deserter, Waterhaul II
Goat quoted 79 / 100
Other albums by 36 Crazyfists that we have reviewed:
36 Crazyfists - Time and Trauma reviewed by Goat and quoted 65 / 100
36 Crazyfists - The Tide And Its Takers reviewed by Goat and quoted 45 / 100
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