36 Crazyfists: The Tide and Its Takers 

Back to deliver another beating with their fourth studio album, 36 Crazyfists released The Tide and Its Takers last May. The four-man metal-core outfit from Kenai, Alaska, once again delivers face pounding with a smile, just like Jackie Chan, the star of the movie the band took their name from. Throughout the album, you can hear shredding, mach-five guitar riffs and howling vocals that could front a black metal band. Pounding double-bass drumming and throbbing bass guitar tie the album together. The Tide and Its Takers shines in its writing. The band steers away from overdone concepts of unadulterated rage and crushing self-pity that permeate so much of popular music today and opts for a range of emotions including loss, defiance, regret and determination. This is most evident in the tracks "We Gave it Hell," "Only a Year or So" and "When Distance is the Closest Reminder." Several of the songs on The Tide and Its Takers are about isolation, lost relationships or war. "Only a Year or So" is a primarily spoken-word piece about a soldier's letters to and from his wife that hits all three of those subjects. While there is no metal screaming on the track, the singing sounds overly-synthesized and sometimes robotic. Despite the unusual depth of lyric, the presentation may be grating on people who aren't fans of hard-core or heavy metal. And while the skill of the musicians is obvious, the music lacks some originality. The Tide and Its Takers is mostly an average album from an average metal-core band. If you are already a fan of bands like Chimera and The Devil Wears Prada, go ahead and pick up a copy, but don't expect 36 Crazyfists to break new ground.

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