This is one of those albums that just clicks. Everything is right about it, in the same vein as some of the more 'classic' albums like Master of Puppets, etc; however it will never reach those heady heights I fear. Forget the music for a moment, the title, the artwork, the length and overall feel of the album is just as important. They have produced music just as superb, and in some cases better than this but only sporadically. This is their most musically consistent collection, tone-wise until their 2010 offering Collisions and Castaways, but this is better - this is their Master of Puppets.
'At the End of August' is sublime. A great, powerful intro with a singalong chorus that sets down the manifesto for their sophomore major label album. 'The Heart and the Shape' continues smoothly on from this with another flawless lesson in how to execute a perfect song with tune and melody while still regaining a rawness and integrity that belies the more 'poppier' elements. 'Bloodwork' - the single is also top notch but is not the best of the bunch, as we've already heard 2 tracks that better it. 'Kenai' is one of those storming metalcore monsters that 36 can just DO. It's short and livid but with one of the best choruses they've written. 'Skin and Atmosphere' slows proceedings down a bit, but only a bit. A truly worthy track that leads things into 'Song for the Fishermen'. As with all mammoth albums there is always an oddball curio and this is it. It is barely 2 minutes long but feels like a full track. It is edgy and full of passion, yet subtle and moving. 'With Nothing Underneath' to 'Installing the Catheter' is just constant classic. Raw, passionate, cool and with the best choruses (they must have an electronic chorus-maker). 'Cure Eclipse' and 'Waterhaul' end the album in style, slightly heavier than the opening and not quite as good but it would seem empty if they were to disappear. Incidentally, 'Waterhaul II' can be found ending their 5th album (and is also rather good).
The best album but there are better songs on later efforts. Rest inside the Flames and The Tide and its Takers are slightly more accessible but just don't have the overall greatness that this has. Collisions and Castaways comes very close in tone and completeness but the tracks don't hold up as well. Their debut is a hit and miss affair but does also have a handful of belters. If I could only take one 36 Crazyfists album to a desert island it would be A Snowcapped Romance.