36 Crazy Fists' 2002 Roadrunner debut was jagged, pissed-off, and basic, its rigid boundaries refreshing in a post-hardcore movement muddled with mixing-board hocus-pocus and white elephant string sections. Expansion from such a singular dimension is natural, even imperative for a follow-up effort; thankfully, these kindler, gentler Fists don't forget how to clench. At first, it doesn't look good. Bitterness the Star's rust, tundra, and heavy equipment motif has been replaced with arty, beating-heart-melting-the-icicles-of-my-soul imagery, and a title right out of the Random Emo Generator. A Snow Capped Romance also finds vocalist Brock Lindow writing pensive lyrics, more poetic than polemic. That said, the hammering rhythms and hysterical screaming of "At the End of August" and "The Heart and the Shape" ensure 36 Crazy Fists haven't completely forsaken the metal or the 'core to build a crisis of conscience platform. Lindow does alternate his berserk howl with a more conventional wail -- this feels like the influence of producer James Paul Wisner, who's worked with Further Seems Forever and Dashboard Confessional. "Bloodwork" and "Skin and Atmosphere" are Snow Capped Romance's biggest departure, relying on big vocal melodies and even bigger dynamic shifts to give 36 Crazy Fists' roguish post-hardcore an accessible front. There's also an echoing mid-album rumination on Lindow's Alaskan youth. But that brief interlude is a setup for a second half that mixes in that frenzied old hard stuff with consistently interesting melodic departures. "With Nothing Underneath" is at least mostly metal, while "Destroy the Map" features some gripping vocal dynamics between Lindow and guest pal Raithon Clay. Most representative might be "Installing the Catheter," which gradually replaces the unfortunate Hoobastank-ness of its start with left-field spoken word and a meaty, thrashing finale. A Snow Capped Romance occasionally stumbles on the loose gravel of conventionalism, but it always regains its footing on the rock.
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AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus