Easily one of the most prominent acts ever to emerge from Alaska, 36 Crazyfists took a while to land a record deal, let alone make an impact in the music scene on a larger scale. But when they did, it was quite special. Signed to Roadrunner Records in 2000, the band released their album Bitterness The Star in 2002, gaining a quick fanbase. While they’d expand on the formula with their celebrated 2004 full-length A Snow-Capped Romance, it’s this album that immediately established their unique identity.
2002 was arguably the year that nu-metal started to break away as the dominant rock/metal sub-genre, and in its place, metalcore and post-hardcore were emerging instead. It’s with that in mind that makes this debut album from 36 Crazyfists so unique and special for its time. In particular, it involves a mix of all three of the aforementioned genres, acting as a sort of time capsule as well. It’s actually not a huge surprise when you realize the majority of the album’s songs were written in 1997-1998.
It’s nearly impossible to discuss this album and not talk about vocalist Brock Lindow’s voice. At times, Lindow’s passion and emotion is such that he genuinely sounds like he’s breaking down on songs like “Two Months From A Year”. By the end of the track, it really does sound that way, with the punchy guitars and emotional lyrics being one of the band’s more overlooked cuts. Lindow’s penchant for creating vocal hooks out of seemingly thin air also does a lot to further this impressive Roadrunner debut. Anyone writing lyrics like these and singing them with such conviction clearly has to have endured some trials and tribulations in life. Lindow isn’t the only talented member of the band, of course – the drumming and bass both shine, and in particular, Steve Holt’s guitar playing adds a lot of flavor to the mix as well, putting on some memorable riffs on album highlights like “Dislocate” (where the nu-metal influence is very clear) and the intense “Turns To Ashes”.
Bitterness The Star is full of songs that effortlessly shift from melodically clean sections to aggressive metalcore sections almost as fast as you can blink. Few songs are more convincing of this skill than possibly their most well-known song, “Slit Wrist Theory”. A song that tugs at the emotion of even the most cold-hearted person, Lindow’s warbling voice and the song’s churning breakdowns make for more than convincing theater. In fact, compared to the band’s later work where Brock Lindow’s voice was more refined, it’s on tracks like this, “Turns To Ashes”, and “An Agreement Called Forever” where Brock Lindow and company deliver some of the best performances of their careers.
Bitterness The Star was just the start of a long and fruitful career for 36 Crazyfists. While later albums improved on their songwriting formula, it’s their Roadrunner debut that remains arguably the most unique of their discography. Delivered with intensity, emotion, and passion, it’s hard not to get drawn in by the unique sound 36 Crazyfists created here. It’s certainly one of the more underrated albums of the era.