First Reaction: Cancer Bats' The Spark That Moves

Canadian hardcore crew Cancer Bats have just dropped their new album, The Spark That Moves, out of nowhere. K!’s Nick Ruskell gives you the first reaction…

First Reaction: Cancer Bats' The Spark That Moves

And just like that, we have a new Cancer Bats record. Choosing to forego traditional labels and release methods, The Nicest Men In Canada™ have decided that their sixth album would come out on their own label, on their own terms, by surprise. 

“We were just tired of waiting,” explains singer Liam Cormier. “We spent all of 2017 working hard on this album, all while playing shows and talking with our fans, who were constantly asking, ‘When can we hear new music!?’ We figured, ‘Why make anyone wait any longer? Let’s just drop the entire new album all at once!’ I know as a fan, I just want to hear everything right away, let me buy the record right now!”

It has been a wait – three years since Searching For Zero – and one that’s seen Cancer Bats coming round with less regularity than what they have done over the last decade. But that’s clearly not had any effect on their intensity or ability to beef up a riff that’s made of equal parts Sabbath groove and Converge power and use it to make a groove you could land – and, indeed, lose - a plane in.

It opens with Gatekeeper, all stoner stomp and stagedive energy, before the charging Brightest Day brings to mind old favourite Scared To Death. Headwound is a slow, steady headbanger, while Can’t Sleep arrives on an off-kilter rhythm that’s got a foot firmly in Sabbath’s Vol 4.

This is all good. Scott Middleton and Jaye Schwarzer’s riffs are as heavy and crushing as ever, drummer Mike Peters sounds more powerful than on Searching For Zero, and Liam Cormier still sounds, brilliantly, like Otto from The Simpsons fronting a hardcore band.

As you’ll read in next week’s K!, creating The Spark That Moves has not been without its challenges. Where once Cancer Bats were four men in a van, destination: wherever there’s a stage, with the unstoppable passing of time comes change. Mike Peters, for example, moved away from his bandmates to Winnipeg (referenced here in the track Winterpeg, in honour of its almost constant cold season), meaning the album couldn’t just be jammed as in days gone by. But this has simply meant Cancer Bats have had to stop, examine, and figure out a new way of doing what they do. It’s reassuring to know that this brilliant band remain so strong that times can change, circumstances can change, but when it’s clobbering time, their spark remains potent and incendiary.

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