You’ll struggle to find anything but a glowing review of 36 Crazyfists’ debut album, 2001′s Bitterness The Star, and yet it’s more than likely that they’ve never appeared on your musical radar screen, even if metal and hardcore are your cups of Earl Grey.
Maybe it’s the name (36 Crazyfists doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue), or perhaps it’s the fact that they come from a place not associated with hype, musical “scenes” and headline-grabbing party action – Alaska. Whatever, it’s a shame because, if there’s any justice, their second album will sweep them into the metal big league faster than you can say, “Michelle Shocked“…
A Snow Capped Romance is a heady mixture of many of the best bits of hardcore and metal from the past few years. As such, it has that careful balance between the feeling of something new, greater than the sum of its parts, and the warmth and fuzziness of familiarity.
At The End Of August explodes from the speakers with a blaze of guitar riffs straight from Refused‘s The Shape Of Punk To Come. Brock Lindow’s lacerated screams, meanwhile, are hardcore in name and nature, although a couple of listens reveal the presence of a subtle melody in what is already a very cool track.
This melding of storming aggression with, well, tunes, is a constant theme throughout the album, and reaches its creative apex in Bloodwork. Here, Lindow displays an admirably fine singing voice, definitely reminiscent of Our Lady Peace‘s Raine Maida, which carries an anthemic chorus even higher into the stratosphere. This track wouldn’t be out of place on a P.O.D. album and, believe me, that’s a compliment of the highest order.
Elsewhere, Kenai has a booming, bass-heavy intro of the Korn-ish variety, while Skin And Atmosphere takes things into Poison The Well heart-core territory, particularly with the sentiment: “Think I’ll rename my heart, the calendar / ‘Cause it’ll surely know just when to end.”
Song For The Fisherman runs further with the sensitive theme. A spoken-word poetry piece, where Lindow declares, “There are times when being engulfed by mountains are the only signs of safety I know,” it neatly divides the first half of melodic bludgeon from the second.
And the second half is just as accomplished as the first, with a clever down-tempo mood change within the thrashy workout of With Nothing Underneath, some Funeral For A Friend-sized stomp in the delighfully-titled Installing The Catheter, and a haunting closing number, Waterhaul.
Make no mistake, A Snow Capped Romance is an ambitious piece of work and, although the musical influences are obvious, somehow 36 Crazyfists have succeeded in sounding different to much of the rest of the herd. It would appear that there’s more to Alaska than oil, polar bears and baked desserts…