Aside from their naturally bootylicious curves and ability to pen a heart-tugging socially-conscious ballad, historically it’s been hard to draw many comparisons between hardcore scamps Cancer Bats and pop-behemoth Beyonce, until now. With next to no build-up bar a vague four-day online countdown, the band today surprise-release their sixth studio album on their own Bat Skull Records with all the clumsy, there-you-go grace of a James Corden punchline, and to put it simply, it fucking rips.
From start to finish, The Spark That Moves is an absolute beast of an album, pumped up on the founding ideals of the band and soaked in the unique characteristics of each individual member. From the colossal riffs and squeals of Scott Middleton to the aggressive positivity of Liam Cormier, via the distorted colon-quaking low-end of Jaye Schwarzer and relentless perma-roll barrage of Mike Peters, this is everything you could possibly want from a surprise Cancer Bats release, and then some.
After the disappointingly patchy Searching for Zero, the band have wholesale ditched the slower doom influences that crept in over recent years in favour of careening violently back towards their feral punk best, making it all the more fitting that they drop this back-alley gruntfest almost exactly 10 years to the day since Hail Destroyer exploded onto the scene, and on the day a tour supporting that landmark release begins in Toronto. With said album’s producer Eric Ratz back behind the mixing desk and bassist Jaye Schwarzer taking a more dominant role in the writing process, the band sound scabrously ravenous, re-energised and pushing themselves to their sonic limits, belting out some of the best material of their lives. A greasy, denim and leather, wife-swapping, hog-riding, zero-fucks rock and roll spirit permeates tracks like the Roadsick-esque Brightest Day and Clutch-on-crank groove-bomb Space and Time, while Fear Will Kill Us All and Rattlesnake chomp at the gnarly end of the bit, groaning under the weight of their own sludge fury. The result is a glorious meeting point somewhere between 2008’s Hail Destroyer and its 2010 successor Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones, but stripped of those albums’ more reflective moments in order to focus solely on the punk metal power carnage the band made their name with. It’s not all early-album nostalgia though, with Bed of Nails rolling on a desert groove that proves the boys can still bend themselves into new shapes when they want, the song’s laconic turbo-stoner curl drawing out the melody in Cormier’s caustic bellow like a punk-rock lion-tamer. Most of all though, The Spark That Moves is fun, roaring non-stop at a thousand riffs per second and placing Cancer Bats right back where they belong as the one-and-only party band of choice, incapable of any setting but “destroy”. Cormier may have sung about the year of the snake last time out on Searching For Zero, but make no bones about it, 2018 is the year of the Bat.
The Spark That Moves is available now via TheSparkThatMoves.com
Cancer Bats will celebrate the 10th anniversary of Hail Destroyer with four shows at the Underworld in London from 24-27 April. At the time of press, only the first night had tickets left, available directly from The Underworld