Stalwarts of the Canadian metal scene, Cancer Bats have been peddling their furious brand of hardcore fused with a hefty dose of sludge for near fourteen years now with nary a misstep along the way. The band have carefully crafted their sound over time, from the early days of Birthing the Giant to the explosive fury of Hail Destroyer through to 2015’s more experimental and arguably expansive take on their now-signature sound, Searching for Zero. After three years away, touring like madmen as both Cancer Bats and their Sabbath-worshipping alter ego Bat Sabbath, on April 20th, and with absolutely no warning whatsoever, Cancer Bats self-released their sixth LP The Spark That Moves.
The opening feedback of ‘Gatekeeper’ quickly gives way to a sledgehammer riff and the band lose no time at all in getting up to all their old tricks; the fury is here, as is the party punk atmosphere guaranteed to set grins solidly from ear to ear. The band’s no-BS approach that served them so well on Searching for Zero is alive and well here, the album roaring by, leaving ears battered and minds blown; this is without a doubt their most essential album in ten years. Not since the heady days of Hail Destroyer as the band sounded so invigorating and energetic.
Tracks like ‘We Run Free’ and ‘Bed of Nails’ help to showcase Liam’s confidence with the various vocal styles at his disposal, from abrasive screams to the sung/spoken and growls, switching effortlessly between them all and Scott Middleton showcases his signature bluesy, stoner grooves with planet-sized riffs. ‘Space and Time’ churns and thrashes like Cancer Bats of old as well as winding between pinch harmonics and chugging with serpentine riffs. Fear Will Kill Us All’ opens with an unexpected, albeit short-lived, piano before cannoning into furious hardcore with a heaving, gargantuan chorus and is guaranteed to set venues ablaze.
The Spark that Moves, for all its throwbacks to classic ‘Bats is also the most technically proficient they’ve put out, the grooves and pinch harmonics twisting and turning in ways we haven’t heard from the band before. For a band that consistently puts out quality releases that push their sound further and evolve the band further it’s a surprise they haven’t gone down the self-release path before but with the new record the band admitted they just didn’t want to wait around and wanted fans to be able to get their hands on the album straightaway without all the hype and lead-up to release that usually entails new albums. Instead, the band dropped the album through their own imprint Bat Skull under New Damage Records,
This an album that shows Cancer Bats at their most sincere, their most furious and with minimal BS, mirroring the choice to self-release with no fanfare and the album’s short and sweet runtime. This is an album for fans that, without reinventing their sound, sounds as urgent and fresh as they did when they first burst onto the scene.
Highlights: Gatekeeper, Bed of Nails, Winterpeg