BIRTHING THE GIANT
ABACUS RECORDINGS Out now
When first confronted with the name, the title and the interesting cover art depicting a giant woman engaged it what appears to be the surprisingly pleasing act of giving birth to the Titanic, I was not hopeful. But actually, though these three visual clues told me a lot of what I needed to know about the Bats’ sound, my personal reaction to them was better than I first expected it to be.
Don’t get me wrong. Cancer Bats are noise merchants and they are not really my cup of char, but nor are they cranium-bashing to the point of just being sound. There are tunes in there. You can hear in the twanging riffs the Black Sabbath cum Led Zeppelin influences they claim. In places there is a Black Flag-ish resemblance to old school hardcore punk and the album is liberally sprinkled with plenty of catchy groove. Vocalist Liam Cormier’s delivery is not the unintelligible bark that characterises so much of the genre’s output either. You can actually tell what he’s saying. He doesn’t have an awful lot to say, but if you’re going to go to the trouble of writing lyrics it seems worthwhile to let people actually hear them, rather reducing them to unrecognizable carping.
The album is, of course, not without some serious shortcomings. Its moderate accessibility probably doesn’t spell good things for fans of the genre. The album’s relative listenability is probably not going to win much support with the louder-is-better hardcore crowd. Nor does it ever attempt to step far enough outside the metal-rock box to risk endearing itself those of us who view this kind of guitar-crunchy thrash-fest with immediate suspicion. And all the songs sound the same.
So, in conclusion: Cancer Bats should not be judged too harshly on the shortcomings of the genre. But nor should you expect too much more than this type of band typically delivers.