Canadian hardcore heavyweights Cancer Bats have just announced their return with the surprise release of ‘The Spark That Moves’. The group’s sixth full-length outing is a streamlined collection of fury and passion, wrapped up in their signature blend of punk and southern metal.
‘Gatekeeper’ sets the tone for the record, kicking things off with a groove-laden verse coupled with Liam Cormier‘s shrieks and howls. The track drives the energy forward before allowing space to appear in the breakdown, giving you a moments rest before throwing you back into the chaos.
The band may be known for their southern metal influences, but they’re equally adept at writing a chorus as shown in ‘We Run Free’. The track opens up with a chorus that will stay with you for days before group then plays with structure, employing false starts before letting the coda loose.
The track also shows off guitarist Scott Middleton‘s solo skills, pulling a bluesy and emotive scale run out of nowhere. The bending notes narrates the underlying groove held up by bassist Jaye Schwarzer before descending back into a battle cry of a chorus.
‘Can’t Sleep’ shows exactly how good Mike Peters is at dictating pace, with the drums bringing a bounce and energy to the track. By the time that the bridge comes around, Peters subtly builds a wall of sound, allowing the breakdown to explode.
For the most part, the group works within their niche, but tracks such as ‘Fear Will Kill Us All’ sees them branching out to other avenues. Opening with a sombre piano motif, the switch to sludgy guitars becomes a jolting change.
The inclusion of guest vocalist Chris Hannah of Propaghandi on ‘Winterpeg’ works perfectly. The tracks refrain of “We live on” howled by Cormier sits front and centre with Hannah‘s cleaner rendition adds a resonance to the final moments of the record.
‘The Spark That Moves’ is a neck-breaking journey into the band’s fourteenth year. Whilst it may be loaded with eleven tracks of grit and wisdom, it could benefit from a touch of experimentation. Yet, with that being said, expect every single one of these songs to be screamed during their live shows.