By Mike Delano
Up here in New England, we get all four seasons, and in my mind the fall and 36 Crazyfists go hand in hand. For 15 years and across seven albums, whenever I hear Brock Lindow’s voice I’m transported directly to that time of year when the temperature is dropping and the leaves are dying in spectacular fashion. I’m not sure why — maybe because the music of these Alaskans often dwells on change and transition. Their new album, Lanterns, definitely focuses on those themes — since the band’s last album, 2015’s Time and Trauma, Lindow went through a divorce after 13 years of marriage. There’s talk here of looking in the mirror and seeing a “reflection full of shame,” of shallow graves and being thrown to the wolves. It’s dark. Opening track “Death Eater” sets the tone early: it’s throwing haymakers as soon as the bell rings with guttural growls and a wall of drums. There’s no soaring chorus to be found, and elsewhere among these 12 tracks the atmosphere of pain and suffering can be suffocating. But there are enough glimpses of the trademark 36 Crazyfists mix of aggression and melody, most notably on “Sea and Smoke” and “Better to Burn.” The latter song is this album’s “Also Am I” — the standout track from Time and Trauma — the one song on each of their albums that arrives perfectly formed, capturing all of the band’s strengths in four golden minutes. And as bleak as things can get on Lanterns, ultimately it ends up sounding hopeful, like a grand purging of the past rather than a wallowing in it, lighting the way down a new path.