Music often functions as that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. It provides shelter during any storm and calm in the middle of tumult. 36 Crazyfists understand this phenomenon firsthand. In fact, the Anchorage, AK quartet—Brock Lindow [vocals], Steve Holt [guitar], Mick Whitney [bass], and Kyle Baltus [drums]—find catharsis within chaos on their seventh full-length album and second for Spinefarm, the aptly titled Lanterns.
“Lanterns represent the light we all seek,” explains Brock. “These songs are all about struggling to locate it and trying to find the way to move forward and get past what has mentally hampered you in your life. Everyone deals with depression on some level. It’s a matter of how you’re going to get out of it, put one foot in front of the other, get up, and live in this dark spot. That encompasses the umbrella of the album. I can say I’m much stronger mentally than I was two years ago when we started this.”
Such unbridled honesty cast in unpredictable metallic soundscapes and icy melodies has defined the veteran group since its emergence in 1994. Their journey would be earmarked by classics such as 2004’s A Snow Capped Romance. The breakout album yielded the hit “Bloodwork,” which not only featured on the Resident Evil: Apocalypse Soundtrack, but also garnered a cumulative total of 7 million streams. Along the way, the boys toured with the likes of everyone from Alice In Chains and Killswitch Engage to Atreyu and Fear Factory. Most recently, 2015 saw the release of their Spinefarm debut, Time and Trauma. It crash landed at #2 on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart, a career high, and earned acclaim from Metal Injection, Blabbermouth, Loudwire, Revolver, and more. Meanwhile, the single “Also Am I” racked up over 1.3 million Spotify streams and counting.
As the guys began pondering their next musical evolution in 2016, Brock faced what he describes as “the lowest point in my life.”
“It was extreme depression,” he sighs. “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.”
While working on a salmon fishing boat, he started jotting down lyrical ideas at sea. At nature’s whim, Brock surrendered himself to the process and embraced its healing potential.
“Eventually, I was like, ‘You need to get this stuff off your chest. That’s what music is about for you’,” he admits. “Once I came to terms by being honest with myself, everything came together, and I was able to focus again. It shouldn’t be easy; it just seemed a lot more real and raw this time around.”
In December 2016, he traveled to Steve’s Portland home in order to cut demos. Two months later, he returned in February for proper recording. The group collectively harnessed a new fire in the studio with Steve once again handling producing, recording, and mixing.
“It was the most fun I’ve ever had recording an album,” he beams. “I really studied the demos and had my direction.”
That focus carries through the opener “Death Eater.” It abruptly snaps into gear propelled by gut-punching guitar and airtight percussion before swinging to a hypnotic and haunting refrain.
“It’s probably the heaviest and most metal track,” Brock goes on. “We like to open our records by kicking the door in. Obviously, a ‘Death Eater’ is a character in Harry Potter. My little girl is a huge Harry Potter fan, and she freaked out like, ‘You have to name the song that.’ Lyrically, it’s about how it feels being on the top of the mountain without a care in the world and having everything crumble. You don’t suspect your life can turn upside down in a blink. When that does happen, who is there to support you and help you get back up? I found out exactly who my friends are. They’re the exact same people I’ve known since fourth grade. They’re real dear to me and helped me through the last couple of years.”
Elsewhere, “Wars To Walk Away From” trudges along on a guttural groove as Brock’s voice carries an entrancing and emotive hook, “Walk away from wars I used to know…Shadowed by these ghosts from death below.”
“I had a falling out with a person,” he recalls. “I saw this cool quote saying, ‘Don’t forgive someone because you feel they deserve it. Forgive someone because you feel you deserve peace.’ I really thought about that for a while. There are certain things in life you can dwell on and hold grudges, and it really doesn’t help you in any way. You want to get revenge. You to get whatever you can in some form. Once I decided to move on with my life and leave that attitude behind, I felt much lighter. I’m not trying to live in the past.”
From the incendiary infectiousness of “Better To Burn” to the plaintive clean guitars of the poignant finale “Dark Corners,” Lanterns sees 36 Crazyfists shining at their brightest. In fact, it also lights the way for their next chapter…
“This will be our 23rd year,” Brock leaves off. “It’s not a band; it’s a family. We’ve done so many incredible things because of 36 Crazyfists and the friendships we all have. When I needed my friends over the past few years, they were there for me. With everything we went through, victory is the end result here on this record. I hope it spreads some light.”