Sound — 8
After viewing 36 Crazyfists' Underneath A Northern Sky the 2009 DVD that played out as somewhat of an homage of sorts to the band's frosty hometown in Alaska it's difficult not to have a better grasp on how the band's music has developed over the years. The latest step in that evolution arrives with 36 Crazyfists' fifth studio album Collisions and Castaways, one that delves into various aspects of the musical spectrum along with your standard metalcore. The record certainly trades off gruff/death vocals with melodic choruses, but there are more than a few moments when you'll hear instrumental interludes and restrained, gain-free guitar licks
At the heart of the album is the work of guitarist Steve Holt, who not only shows his technical prowess, but also his proficiency in the studio as producer. While there are a few songs like Reviver that are carried by the main underlying melody, most of the tracks stand out because of the excellent riffage. The opener In The Midnights first sounds as if it will be essentially the album's overture with an emotional acoustic intro, but the track quickly builds and transitions into an electric powerhouse.
36 Crazyfists doesn't stick with just one formula, and that's the big selling point of the record. While plenty of metalcore bands rely on your standard screamed/growled verse and clean chorus, Collisions and Castaways isn't afraid to strip it all back with a song like Caving In Spirals. While it's not as mellow as some rock tunes out there, it's certainly one of the most subdued on the album. Long Road To The Late Nights is an instrumental that once again accentuates Holt's ability to write a strong composition regardless of the genre.
For as low-key as 36 Crazyfists can become, Collisions and Castaways shines in the aggressive moments. Whitewater and Death Renames The Light is carried by grooving, rough riffage, while the latter is an excellent example of Brock Lindow's strength as a capable frontman. Elsewhere Anchors, which features Adam Jackson of Twelve Tribes and Raithon Clay of Plans To Make Perfect, contains a fantastic breakdown that has somewhat of a Lamb of God vibe to it. Collisions and Castaways isn't a perfect album, but 36 Crazyfists venture into some new territory and continue to keep things intriguing.
Lyrics — 9
I really wanted to talk about what has hampered progress for me in my life, Brock Lindow has said about his latest work on Collisions and Castaways. The latest album most definitely is an emotional journey that comes through each of the 11 tracks. Whether he examines the imperfection of past actions in Mercy and Grace (Untangle me from my detest; Untangle my wreck; Slowly but surely we're dining in a table of regret) or examining inner flaws in Trenches (I can't be reached in this soulless design; Capsized my insides). Collisions and Castaways is a heart-wrenching diary of sorts from Lindow, and that honesty should connect with plenty of listeners.
Overall Impression — 9
There has been discussion that Collisions and Castaways is 36 Crazyfists' heaviest album yet, and there are moments when that is an accurate statement. But on the same token, it's a record with depth and emotional ups/downs. It's not necessarily a perfect album from start to finish and a few songs do lag, but on the whole Collisions and Castaways is another solid offering from Alaska's pride and joy.