Cancer Bats – ‘Dead Set On Living’

Balls-out, riot-inducing metal madness

In July 2011 Canadian metalcore giants Cancer Bats, a band who say they “come to destroy”, had a bit of a Ke$ha moment. “We want to write some bangers,” said frontman Liam Cormier to NME following another messy beatdown at Sonisphere festival. “I’m done being bummed out and now it’s time to rip it!”

A nine-month gestation later, they’ve done just that. From the speedy fist-pumping of opener ‘RATS’ (featuring a guest spot from ’80s underground metal figure Rob Urbinati of Sacrifice) to the doomy mucus-rattling finale of ‘New World Alliance’ via the all-out pummel of the title track, Cancer Bats are not just ripping it. They’re tearing it a new one. They’re grinding it down to make a paste, which they eat and then sick back up.

Seriously though, even if their metal influences are no less prominent than 2010’s ‘Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones’, throw in a distorted synthesiser and ‘Bastards!’ would sound like something that Seattle post-hardcore band The Blood Brothers were concocting back in the mid ’00s. There’s such a groove to it that Cormier has referred to it as his “jam” and though ‘Breathe Armageddon’ isn’t exactly all positive vibes (it features the lyrics “No-one survives! As the world burns!”, for goodness’ sake) there’s still a sense of live excitement to it, a ramped-up energy, the sound of a band who are totally into playing together – as it should be.

Even weaker numbers such as ‘Road Sick’ – a song that should be sweet rather than vitriolic because it’s about being separated from loved ones on tour – manages to balance their deep burr with a scalding roar of “I’m trying the best that I can, but I’m road sick siiiiiiicccck”. But not that sick.

On April 21, Cancer Bats will play six gigs in 24 hours, their map trajectory forming a pentagram across London. Expect the bangers on ‘Dead Set On Living’ to start riots, induce whiplash and have the whole room off the floor.

Sian Rowe