Opening with a chronic use of feedback, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you had accidently shuffled The Beatles‘ ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ instead of the first track of ‘Searching For Zero’ before the relentless, stirring drums march their way in. Then BAM, Cancer Bats grab you by the hair and knee you in the face, leaving your neck sprained and your nose broken, as ‘Satellites’ blasts out above your beaten body.
After ‘Searching For Zero’ has lulled you in with a false sense of security, you begin to realise just how different it is from past releases, venturing into mature territory by dabbling in nostalgia. Album number five finds the Toronto four-piece easing up on the distortion and instead draping a blanket of crunchy grunge tones over their mammoth riffs. Despite sounding grimier and rougher around the edges, the lyrics lack the cynicism and spite of past releases, not that their exactly all sunshine and lollipops, but they’re no ‘Smiling Politely’.
Then there’s the likes of ‘Beelzebub’, a musical endeavour into the cosmos where psychedelic guitar riffs are your vehicle, and punishing, trademark Cancer Bats grit is your fuel. Psychedelically on par with He Is Legend‘s latest release, ‘Heavy Fruit’, you almost expect the cover of ‘Searching For Zero’ to be peppered with the hippie-bubble writing akin to every fucking 60s album.
Cancer Bats rose to stardom with their ball busting, no holds barred southern hardcore and released numerous albums jam packed with instant hits. Though amazing, these albums started to blend into one similar sound after a few listens. That’s so not the case with ‘Searching For Zero’. While it still possesses all the unique Cancer Bats beatdowns and guitar licks, it just has so much more added into the mix turning a delicious, satisfying dish into a Michelin star masterpiece that will make you jizz instantly.
A few die-hard fans may turn their noses up at the lack of aggression when compared to past releases, but fuck ’em. ‘Searching For Zero’ is not only a stellar progression forward in both talent and musicianship, but it also takes Cancer Bats to new levels of maturity. It seems that their ruthless hardcore anthems were a mere jumping point for greater things, ‘Searching For Zero’ being one of them.
Written by Andy Roberts (@Sassensquatch)