Album number three from everyone’s favourite Toronto southern hardcore merchants, and yet again they come up with the goods. As per usual, every track here is packed to the gills with enough riffs to make any fully grown lumberjack weep. Liam Cormier‘s vocals are as biting and punchy as ever whilst Scott Middleton‘s guitar work can only be described as ridiculous in the best possible way with more pinch harmonics than you could possibly muster the breath to ask for.
Cancer Bats are a band best served loud and this album is no exception to their reputation. The production delivers in sledgehammer blows and shotgun blasts that kick out the intensity needed to do the band justice. Rarely can an act articulate their powers of live performance so directly in the recording studio, yet with Cancer Bats it sounds almost effortless. This is a darker, far more brutal piece of work compared to the band’s first two studio efforts and it takes great delight in hammering home it’s lead fisted ear barrage. You will be left beaten, broken and pummelled to satisfaction.
The track list is full of big hitters dishing out chest-thumping body blows left, right and centre: the wailing six string assault of ‘Trust No One’, the chugging, crushing inevitability of ‘Black Metal Bicycle’, ‘We Are The Undead’ with it’s chanting, bone-crunch-punk and the bruising ‘Scared To Death’ that plays like an upgraded ‘Death Bros.’ with newly fitted serrated teeth and a fresh taste for blood. The aptly titled ‘Snake Mountain’ spits out a sprawling python of a riff full of venom and fangs that stands out as an unlikely moment of respite alongside the more doom-centric affairs on offer elsewhere on the album. ‘Fake Gold’ is the frantic, blasting heart of the entire piece, with it’s furious pace and blistering delivery that breaks out into a dark, morose stomping chorus.
The closer is an inspired cover of the Beastie Boys‘ ‘Sabotage’ sounding like it’s been pumped full of steroids and sent out into a Tarantino gun fight armed with machetes and a man shredding hand cannon. Whilst an instant ‘Smooth Criminal’-shaped coverage sponge it may be, it also works surprisingly well and will act as an obvious entry point for those unfamiliar with the work of Cancer Bats. Here’s hoping that what’s under the hood of this brooding beast of an album doesn’t scare them off.
‘Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones’ lacks the melodic content of it’s predecessors, instead taking a more primal, raw slant on the tried and tested Cancer Bats sound. They aren’t breaking new ground or pushing on into some brave new world, but that’s hardly the point. The point is Cancer Bats play sweat soaked southern tinged hardcore, and they’re still as lethally effective as ever.
Written by Greg Johnson