Album Review: Cancer Bats – “Bears, Mayors, Scraps, and Bones”

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Canadian bands have long contributed more than their share to the global punk and hardcore scene – take Comeback Kid, Alexisonfire, and Real McKenzies for examples. Ontario’s Cancer Bats are doing their country (and the rest of us) proud with their latest full-length release, Bears, Mayors, Scraps, & Bones, which came out April 13 on Good Fight. If you were wondering, the title is a compilation of each of the band members’ nicknames.

B, M, S, & B starts off slow but abrasive – the opening track Sleep This Away gives you an idea of the band’s strong sludge influences. But they mix it up pretty quickly, with the second song, Trust No One, cranking the tempo up without losing any of the energy. Throughout the album, they go back and forth between those two themes – heavy, slow sludge metal on tracks like Darkness and Doomed To Fail, then right back into their frantic hardcore sound with Snake Mountain and Fake Gold. The constant across both styles is that their riffs and lyrics never lose intensity, which allows them to move between the two, even within a song as on Raised Right and Dead Wrong, without missing a step. Cancer Bats close things out with a cover of the Beastie Boys’ Sabotage that had me on my feet and ready to punch walls.

Overall, the album has a solid sound and keeps you interested by kicking up and then slowing down the tempos. I would compare it to Every Time I Die’s albums Gutter Phenomenon and Hot Damn!, since all three records change tempos without losing their intensities. Both bands also share thick but aggressive riffs on downtuned guitars, fronted by a mixture of screaming and clean vocals from a single vocalist.

Cancer Bats are definitely a band to keep on your radar – they’re touring this spring with Norma Jean and none other than Every Time I Die after a headlining European tour.

Big thanks to Jen at Listen Harder for setting me up with a copy of the album!



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