Cancer Bats – “Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones”

Hardcore Punk is a genre that is sometimes misunderstood, and at the same time not to be taken lightly. At times harsh, brash and emotive and at others wise, political and disarmingly educated, some hardcore punk bands are the ones that know the most about the situation of the world as it currently is, as say it like they see it. Canada’s own Cancer Bats are just one of these many bands. Whilst they may not pride themselves on being overly political in their views, or have a typical “punk” attitude towards establishments, they do know what they do best. And that is having a good time making loud music with buttloads of groove and swagger.

I have had the personal pleasure of meeting the band once, and in particular having a long conversation with frontman Liam Cormier about his music and about him being straight-edge and a vegetarian at the same time. and from just one conversation with this well-spoken gentleman I worked out two things – 1) Liam Cormier believes what he writes in his lyrics very much and 2) Cancer Bats love to party! Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones is Cancer Bats’ third offering of their own blend of hardcore punk flecked with deep metallic grooves, after their debut full length Birthing The Giant and then 2008’s incredibly popular Hail Destroyer, when their career started picking up even more speed than before. The name Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones is taken from the bands collective nicknames, showing now how close they have grown together as a band.

Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones kicks off with Sleep This Away, a deep, chugging, lumbering creature that starts by crawling out of your speakers, until it shows its teeth when Cormier’s vocals come into the mix with his signature throat-ripping snarl, adding more force to his words. Trust No One, as with many others on this record, is a fast-paced aural juggernaut of hardcore punk that shows Cancer Bats’ true punk colours with lyrics like “I’m not as negative as all this sounds, I just feel like humanity has let me down”. This is closely followed by an uproaring anthem of chant-alongs with Dead Wrong, a song stacked to the brim with angular punk riffs that tumble out of the speakers like a wall coming down.

We Are The Undead is another galloping riffed song with twisting, building guitars packed with swagger during the choruses of “I swear on my life, hope never to die, we’re all gonna live forever”, followed closely by Scared To Death, the first non-cover song to be released off this album, and immediately it stands out as a song with more distinguishable sections of punk and metal respectively, and really shows what Cancer Bats are capable of. Darkness Lives crawls out of the gloom with deep, gutteral, balls-to-the-wall grooves and riffage courtesy of Scott Middleton’s guitar and Jaye Schwarzer’s bass, and could well be for this album what Lucifer’s Rocking Chair was on Hail Destroyer. Snake Mountain unravels out of the speakers, and comes packing an uppercut at the same time in its pure brute force. Make Amends  and Fake Gold closely follow, each of them upping the ante with their pace and force and, in the case of Fake Gold, showing further punk-rock ideals over the state of culture in present society with the words “So sick of these vandals. All this destruction looks the same. I thought that noise was danger. Now you’re just out pushing brand names. Am I an asshole? Or just old? When did I get so jaded?”.

The last actual Cancer Bats song of the record, Raised Right, is a slow-burning, deep-grooving, snarly little beast that speaks of a proper upbringing as a child before it slowly builds into something bigger and stronger and faster, and ultimately packing more swagger than John Travolta in his best white suit. Then the final track of the album rears its head, and you remember not only one more reason why you wanted this album, but also why Cancer Bats are so damn good at having a good time. Their cover of the Beastie Boys Sabotage, done in their own hardcore punk stylings of twisting guitars and deep groovy bass lines, is enough to slap a smile onto any punk-lovers face and get them turning the volume up a few thousand decibels!

All in all, this is another great offering from Canada’s Hardcore Heroes, and is sure to mean Cancer Bats will keep going from strength to strength, throwing bigger and better parties everywhere they go.