Formed in Alaska in 1994, 36 Crazyfists have seen numerous struggles over the last
23 years. According to the official Facebook page “the band’s released four records
through three different labels.” During an interview section of the 2009 DVD
Underneath A Northern Sky, a band member commented that the group had not yet
been on a headlining tour. To top it all off, original bassist JD Stuart was killed in a
car crash in 1996.
Despite these hardships, 36 Crazyfists are presently on a headlining tour. As well,
the seventh studio album Lanterns was released on September 29th.
The songwriting formula that made the first three albums so incredible is mostly
missing on more recent material such as 2010’s Collisions and Castaways, although
it does somewhat reappear on the following release Time and Trauma. And the
newest LP’s opener “Death Eater”, gives the impression that this will be an
unrelentingly heavy collection of songs with its hammering drum rolls. Vocalist
Brock Lindow can be heard screaming like a banshee in the bridge.
The second track “Wars to Walk Away From” however, begins immediately with a
groove and the verse builds up to a chorus with upbeat lead guitar melody and clean
vocals. Things get even more melodic afterward with “Better to Burn.” This one fits
right in with something off of the quartet’s third record Rest Inside the Flames. The first three tracks on Lanterns were all released as singles.
Brutish tendencies return on “Damaged Under Sun” but subsequently dissipate with “Sea and Smoke” and an a brief acoustic serenade with sprinklings of rain drops called “Where Revenge Ends.”
“Old Gold” is depressing and down-tempo. This is the first indication of the band’s doom rock capabilities on track 11 of a 12-track album. The closer, “Dark Corners” is a gentle and introspective end to a largely unforgiving ride. “Tried to bury me and damn near succeeded, got pulled out from the deep from the ones I needed,” Lindow solemnly croons.
When speaking with Loudwire, Lindow explained that Lanterns was written during an intensely troubling period. “I got divorced after 13 years,” he said. “That tailspun me a little bit. A number of things happened that I wasn’t used to. I’m a pretty upbeat guy, and I’m not accustomed to that feeling. It was a difficult writing process for me. Things didn’t flow for a long time, because I couldn’t get focused outside of my everyday life.”
Though Lanterns doesn’t quite have the magic of the band’s first three records, there’s no mistaking that it was written by the same individuals that wrote their 2002 debut Bitterness the Star. The band’s sound has changed only slightly over time. Songs such as “Sleepsick” is a prime example of classic 36 Crazyfists songwriting.
Overall, Lanterns reflects a theme of overcoming hard times and would be recommended to anyone needing a soundtrack for perseverance, something 36 Crazyfists have been doing since the very beginning.