36 Crazyfists - Time and Trauma
Spinefarm Records
12 songs (56:26)
Release year: 2015
36 Crazyfists, Spinefarm Records
Reviewed by Goat

What constitutes good metalcore in 2015? It's long past the genre's high point, both commercially and in terms of quality, and any bands that survive on your playlist this late are most likely to be personal favourites. A critical re-examination of the many, many bands in the subgenre is probably due, but over-saturation played a decisive role in its decline in popularity, and this hurt the bands that were genuinely worthy of your time. Enter 36 Crazyfists, who have been around since 1994 and were nu-metal before turning hardcore, a personal favourite who never quite made it as they should have done despite releasing more than a couple of more than decent albums.

The lack of their own, distinctive sound certainly didn't help, although the Alaskans have several unique points in their favour. First and foremost is vocalist Brock Lindow, who has both an uncanny hardcore scream and a distinctive singing voice. He's provided with capable instrumental backing from the rest of the band, not least guitarist Steve Holt, who as well as sharing his name with an Arrested Development punchline is a skilled player who provides a deftly varied backing to the vocals. Lastly, the band's Alaskan background has made in the past for some interesting colour to their music, and although they relocated to Oregon years ago, it still informs their sound, giving it a cold, often melancholic atmosphere.

That's as clear here as in the past, but sadly Time and Trauma still reeks of misplaced talent, often seeming content to continue to mine standard metalcore seams rather than strike out for something their own. The songwriting isn't anywhere near as good as in the past, either – why is the band incapable of writing songs as instantaneous as At the End of August or I'll Go Until My Heart Stops any more? Yet there's still something about Time and Trauma that elevates it from the norm and makes it worthy of a listen. The band have an ear for subtle hooks, and several songs here need a couple of listens before you unearth them, although the best song on the album, Also Am I, is the most instantaneous, bearing both good usage of Lindow's various vocal skills as well as the biggest, most Killswitch Engage-esque chorus, and even a guitar solo.

In comparison, a lot of the songs here feel less engaging. Opener Vanish is interesting at first with a slower than usual pace and subtly catchy vocal patterns from Lindow, but doesn't really go anywhere, although the following 11.24.11 steps up the ferocity a little. Again, however, the track exists by itself and doesn't stand out, not helped by the lumpy production which squashes the guitar melody. Sorrow Sings is the first decent track, opening with Hatebreed-y stomp and allowing the melodic sections to breathe as well as throwing in a slower post-breakdown section. 36 Crazyfists are at their best when at their most varied, which in this case means their least hardcore. The mid-paced title track works well, with a particularly heavy breakdown that touches deathcore territory, as does Translator's infectious hook of 'I'm still weary of you'.

That's largely my problem with Time and Trauma, the weariness – I've heard other bands and 36 Crazyfists themselves do much better, and this is treading water at best. This is as true for the stomping Silencer (which has a pleasing Deftones vibe to the riffs at moments) as it is for the infectious Swing the Noose - both good songs, but you just know that 36 Crazyfists can and (hopefully) will do better. It's hard to recommend Time and Trauma to anyone but ardent fans of the band, as a result, as although solid it's ultimately rather forgettable. A decent album from a band capable of more.

Killing Songs :
Sorrow Sings, Time and Trauma, Also Am I, Silencer, Swing the Noose
Goat quoted 65 / 100
Other albums by 36 Crazyfists that we have reviewed:
36 Crazyfists - Collisions And Castaways reviewed by Goat and quoted 79 / 100
36 Crazyfists - The Tide And Its Takers reviewed by Goat and quoted 45 / 100
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