Album Review: Cancer Bats - 'Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones'

20 April 2010 | 4:53 pm | Staff Writer

Proving there is more to Canada than just Ice Hockey and Terrance & Phillip

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Juggling a mix of musical influences as well as sparse yet relatable genres is something Toronto’s Cancer Bats have learnt to perfect. Consequently, pinpointing the band has certainly been no easy feat. The group dips their toes in many heavy musical styles, choosing with ease the subsequent and suitable levels of delivery. Within the musical sphere that is ‘Cancer Bats’, punk is juxtaposed with hardcore, southern rock is paralleled with thrashy tones and so forth.

Studio album number three is consistent with this unreserved musical approach. ‘Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones’ is a connoisseur of the loud, containing an understated yet assertive feel. Like a highway bikie bar, this album is dirty, fierce and has no regard for outside perception.

While the arc of the band has essentially revolved around a punk angst mixed with a certain hardcore and rock ‘n’ roll persona, the Canadian four piece are not afraid to deviate and take the unconventional path to produce an album that is heavy yet well-rounded.

The lineage Cancer Bats seems to share with Every Time I Die’s contemporary sound is undeniable on ‘Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones’ – with a real sludgy, southern feel present throughout. There is a slight shift from previous releases but its impact is minimal at best causing no disappointment.

‘Trust No One’ is your typical Cancer Bats tune – one that is short, fast and punctuated by a punk backbeat and the ‘in-your-face’ sincerity of front man Liam Cormier. ‘Snake Mountain’ is arguably the release’s strongest moment, aptly positioned in the middle/to back end of the album, working almost as a crescendo in terms of track placement. An intimate punk intensity is coupled with a hardcore tenacity thanks to a constant tempo.

Conversely, tracks such as ‘Doomed to Fail’ channel an old-school feel in reference to the rhythm. Meanwhile, album closer and Beastie Boys cover ‘Sabotage’ is fitting, as it is effective, literal and equally enjoyable.

They might not have flashy clothes, hairstyles that take an hour of work, or litter their songs with a myriad of cliché breakdowns but there is certainly nothing tedious about Cancer Bats’s third full length . ‘Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones’ will have the pit moving, and long time fans thanking the musical gods that a band of this design continues to exist.

‘Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones’ is refreshingly direct. It has an agenda, sticks to it, with anything inferior cast aside with little afterthought. This is a stripped back approach that is unconditional. There is no over-production, no samples, and no auto tune, just fourteen tracks of solid music.

1. Sleep This Way

2. Trust No One

3. Dead Wrong

4. Doomed to Fail

5. Black Metal Bicycle

6. We Are the Undead

7. Scared to Death

8. Darkness

9. Snake Mountain

10. Make Amends

11. Fake Gold

12. Drive This Stake

13. Raised Right

14. Sabotage

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