This album is fucking huge. I think I broke a sweat just listening to it.
Toronto's Cancer Bats have made a name for themselves by touring relentlessly across Canada and the United States despite not yet having a proper release. Until now, those who haven't caught a show or somehow managed to get their hands on recorded material through other means haven't been able to listen to one of Canada's fastest growing bands. The release of Birthing the Giant promises to change all of that.
Birthing the Giant closely follows the spirit of Cancer Bats' previous recordings, which are a series of CD|EPs as well as a seven-inch on coloured vinyl with handmade sleeves -- a real treat for those who got their hands on a copy. Its 11 tracks are vicious blends of hardcore, punk, and metal, largely thanks to the musical experience of many band members. Middleton played in Toronto metal act At the Mercy of Inspiration, bassist Andrew McCracken plays in the traditional hardcore band Urban Blight, and drummer Mike Peters was recruited from Figure Four and also played in Rogue Nation.
For a band known largely for their stage presence, it's crucial that their album embodies that aspect of their craft. From the first seconds of Birthing the Giant's opener, "Golden Tanks," it's clear that such a problem isn't going to arise. Every note and lyric is performed with the desperation that at any second their gear might be unplugged and taken away, and things hardly let down through the album's 11 tracks.
Cormier's vocals are spit out in a vicious yet fraught manner although he's not screaming, and you can understand most of what's coming out of his mouth. Meanwhile, Middleton provides a huge variety of riffs and constantly pushes the songs forward, sometimes into more melodic territory than the band is used to, but at other times into more aggressive moments than we've heard before. The energy coming out of this album is relentless, and it will be interesting to see how it translates to the stage where Middleton's guitar flair will have more time to shine, hopefully leaving audible the technical aspects of the songs which make a strong appearance on Birthing the Giant.
What has always made Cancer Bats stand out is that nobody can ever label them as anything but original. Sure, they're not the only ones making aggressive punk/metal-inspired music, but they put their own stamp on it, and it's a sweet stamp!