Dropping rather drastically off the radar following a couple of forgettable releases, the demise of 36 Crazyfists looked a sad and sudden affair. Once a vital purveyor of big, stonking post-hardcore anthems, bucking the trend for metalcore’s revolving door croon and crush during the mid-noughties, the band’s disappearance smacked of declining interested and a simple dwindling of fire. ‘Time And Trauma’, coming five years since 2010’s ‘Collisions & Castaways’, tells a very different story.
Mapping recent periods of personal pain and internal upheaval, ‘Time And Trauma’ is quite openly the product of some prolonged soul-searching. Far from a collection of introspective acoustic balladry, however, there’s a raw darkness behind many of these cuts. Indeed, some of the riff-work recalls Machine Head at their most primitive, all lumbering metallic swing and pile-driving groove (‘Sorrow Sings’, ‘11.24.11’), and some snatches of startling aggression see a band still baring their fangs and spitting blood (just check out the title-track’s ultra-savage beatdown).
Vocalist Brock Lindow remains the selling point though, as his uniquely recognizable pipes casting a Deftones-esque melancholic magic over the hefty instrumentation, and with the subject matter here as immensely personal as it is, a certain starkness, a potent and oft time bleak intensity to his performance which is in equal measure captivating, and harrowing.
It’s powerful stuff, yet what ultimately hampers the record’s potential to jump from good to great is a discernible lack of gusto which made their early works so compelling. The likes of ‘Silencer’ try their best to ignite the urgency of old, and the roughneck clout of the riffing does hit hard, yet the Alaskan quartet never quite manage to match that so fondly remembered youthful clamour, halting any hopes of a electrifying reintroduction to a once nigh on essential force.
Perhaps ‘Time And Trauma’ labours a tad too strenuously under the weight of its thematic heartache, yet there are undoubtedly more than enough timely reminders here to simply be grateful for the return of 36 Crazyfists.
Written by Tony Bliss (@TBliss88)