Everyone has those songs that take you back to a past time that was distinctly memorable for some reason or another. For me, “Slit Wrist Theory” does just that. This song was on a mix-tape given to me before a school trip to Lake Tahoe back in 2003. It was the first time I had heard 36 Crazyfists, and I was immediately absorbed. We eventually came across a record shop, and Bitterness the Star was amongst my purchases. In an era of nu-metal acts, the intriguing vocals within the spiraling riffs and punching sounds made 36CF stand out from the rest. Even after 23 years as a band, the Alaska quartet have held onto that uniqueness and are still just as strong. Lanterns will be their seventh studio album and the second released on Spinefarm Records.
The gloomy album cover already delivers a hint of the melancholy feelings that lie within the record. The image of a lonesome man clasping a lantern in the fog gives the concept of someone trying to find the light within the darkness of their own mind. The personal lyrics tell of hard times and intimate feelings, giving the album a pensive mood throughout it.
Bursting in with rapid guitar riffs and explosive percussion, “Death Eater” opens the album on full throttle. A heavy scream propels you straight into the heavier side of 36CF. Brock Lindow’s characteristic voice soon shines through and sweeps you into a melodious current, with weighty screams still punching you in the sides. This was a perfect opener to Lanterns.
“Wars to Walk Away From” brings another strong intro with meaty riffs and fierce, crisp, drumming. Kyle Baltus’s snare drum would probably knock the breath out of you if you were close enough. In some parts, Brock plays with the variance in his vocals, producing a grungier tone to his voice. This can be heard in other tracks, such as: “Bandage for Promise” and “Damaged Under the Sun.” Still filled with his higher-pitched vocals as well as the heavier screams, the diversity adds a unique layer to heavy 36CF sound.
Slowing it down, “Where Revenge Ends” offers a breather from the albums intensity. As Brock’s voice has aged, it’s adopted a huskier tone to the distinctive quiver. The sound of raindrops help set a damp atmosphere on this slow track and the personal lyrics tell of a love now lost. I had to listen to this one a few times to really appreciate its depth. Although I prefer the more feisty and heavy tracks, this one did hit deep. The lyrics throughout the album are filled with raw emotion. “Sea and Smoke” and “Old Gold” carry more of the sadness with talk of losing your way and being pulled out of the dark.
My favorite track on the album is “Sleepsick.” It is filled with all the reasons why I was originally drawn to 36CF. Immediately, the guitar and bass riffs suck you into an instrumental vortex before you are spat out into a swaying trance. The catchy chorus lets you briefly come up for air until a furious scream thrusts you back into the heavy whirlpool. The heavy tracks continue with “Better to Burn,” “Laying Hands,” and “Below the Graves,” which also provide some catchy choruses and fiery soundscapes.
The album ends on a slower note. “Dark Corners” takes you on another emotional ride that is emphasized by the sound of a clean guitar. This song is a great finale to an album packed full of intense sounds and powerful emotions. Lanterns is due to be released on 29th September, make sure you pick up a copy!