36 Crazyfists, ‘Lanterns’ – Album Review
Every band and every person goes through ups and downs. For Alaska veterans 36 Crazyfists, their previous album Time and Trauma was a rebirth of sorts. They had a couple of lineup changes and signed with a new label. The success of the record, their highest charting release to-date, was a definite uptick, but life got in the way, leading to a down period.
Lanterns was written during what frontman Brock Lindow calls the lowest point in his life. “It was extreme depression,” Lindow reveals. “I got divorced after 13 years. 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.” He eventually embraced the healing potential of the writing process, everything came together and he describes the results as “a lot more real and raw this time.”
That rawness is reflected on the album's opening track “Death Eater.” It's one of the heaviest and most aggressive songs on the record (with a title inspired by a Harry Potter character), as Lindow delivers emotional growls and screams along with melodic singing. Some ominous spoken word parts add even more diversity.
“Better to Burn” is another heavy track with ample groove. Guitarist Steve Holt had a large role in the creative process, as he once again produced the album along with handling the mixing duties. His performance on the album is excellent, as he was able to inject that aforementioned groove with a thick tone. That's balanced with cleaner, hard rock parts that give some songs a very modern sound.
“Walk Away From Wars” is much more accessible and melodic with mostly clean vocals and plenty of punch. The acoustic “Where Revenge Ends” features soulful baritone vocals with a folky grunge vibe, and halfway through the album, it acts as a respite before the intensity kicks back in with “Sleepsick.” “Bandage for Promise” is a melancholy and emotional song, but the energy does not lag.
There aren't as many memorable songs on the back half of the album as the first, which isn't uncommon. Things pick up with “Below the Graves” which features some Pantera-flavored riffs, and the cathartic “Old Gold.” The album ends on a somber note with the reserved “Dark Corners.”
Lanterns lights the way with songs that are mature, but not world-weary. The songwriting is sharp and focused, with ample heaviness for metal fans and enough hooks and melodies to make hard rock fans happy.