Cancer Bats - Dead Set on Living

by Miz DeShannon Rating:8 Release Date:2012-04-16

I've never really been one for a fella screaming murderously at me while I appreciate some pretty intricate heavy rock, but Cancer Bats are another matter, and Dead Set on Living has brought me round to the idea of a bit of screeching. The fourth album from the Canadian metalcore band is really something els, starting with 'R.A.T.S', with riffs that you'd expect to find on an Alice Cooper intro leading to sludgy sliding bass and a pretty mid-tempo pace. Singer Liam Cormier immediately starts screaming that "there's a special place in hell for people like you". Start as you mean to go on: Strong lyrics, calls to action, and wiping the floor with all the you-know-whats in the world. This isn't your usual metalcore band, these guys are absolutely ripping it up.

Every song is much of the same. No massive focus on harmonies or melodies here, just blood-curdling growls and head-nodding, air-punching intensity. Compared to some hardcore bands, the lyrics are actually legible, but still screamy and they still tear your ears apart. Cancer Bats aren't attempting to be as intense or as avant garde as Meshuggah, but they're a helluva lot heavier than your average rock band. They seem to be sat in the middle of a triangle between QOTSA guitars, Meshuggah basslines and Pantera vocals.

Tracks like 'Road Sick' (actually a poignant track about missing loved ones while on tour) start in a pretty reasonable way; the bottom-end riffs and that sliding bass is lush... Then the blood-curdling kicks in. Other tracks, such as 'The Void', wreak of doom and have that sexy Shrinebuilder-esque grind. The tracks even reach into some teeny bits of psych with a few wah-wahs here and there.

Apparently, the writing of Dead Set on Living took in a huge variety of influences, steering away from the norm, but that's utterly by-the-by. It's the final cut that matters. And boy does this cut it. This album pummels whatever 'it' is to a pulp. It's anarchic individualism, "balls-out, riot inducing madness" as (surprisingly) the NME said. I'd love to come up with something original but they're right. It is.

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