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Cancer Bats - Hail Destroyer (Cover Artwork)

Cancer Bats

Cancer Bats: Hail DestroyerHail Destroyer (2008)
Distort

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:


Contributed by: moneenerdmoneenerd
(others by this writer | submit your own)

After the surprisingly massive success of Toronto's Cancer Bats' first full-length, Birthing the Giant, a tidal wave of carbon-copied, Pantera-influenced hardcore bands (see Barn Burner, the Danger Boys, Dead and Divine, etc.) started to come out of nowhere in the Canadian underground heavy music sc.
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After the surprisingly massive success of Toronto's Cancer Bats' first full-length, Birthing the Giant, a tidal wave of carbon-copied, Pantera-influenced hardcore bands (see Barn Burner, the Danger Boys, Dead and Divine, etc.) started to come out of nowhere in the Canadian underground heavy music scene. Thanks to this and the rising popularity of their chaotic counterparts in Every Time I Die, the whole "Southern lordcore" thing was getting very played out very quickly, and it seemed like every hardcore band in the scene was trading in their camo shorts for trucker hats. Their affiliation with many of Canada's more commercial punk rock groups (notably MTV-loving chart-busters Alexisonfire and Billy Talent) didn't help their credibility much either, as many fans saw this as a sign of going soft since the days of displaying a picture of a naked vampire chick spreading her "see you next tuesday" on the cover of the band's first EP.

Needless to say, I had little to no expectations for Hail Destroyer. This sleazy style of metallic hardcore punk was now safe and fashionable to the point where every Tom, Dick, and Harry on the block was out to start a band with intentions of sounding like the Bats. As a big fan of Birthing the Giant and having listened to it one too many times over the course of two years, I was over it and thought there was no topping it. That feeling, coupled with the release of Hail Destroyer's disappointing title track as its first single, made for a bad first impression. The song in question sounded rushed and weak compared to earlier work; Scott Middleton's guitar didn't have the crunch it once possessed; and vocalist Liam Cormier's trademark Robert Goulet-meets-Wolverine growl just wasn't there. It actually sounded more like one of those Cancer Bat clone bands I was discussing, and nothing about the track really stood out for me.

But then I got a hold of the actual album, and everything changed.

Other than the marginal title track opener mentioned above, Hail Destroyer is very different than Birthing the Giant for many reasons, but each one being a substantially positive change. On this latest effort, the production captures the Cancer Bats' true sound far better than the past, as clean-cut production is toned down and distortion is turned way up. Because of Giant's uber slick production, the Bats' raw live sound was lost in translation, and sounded way too crisp and articulate even by today's standards for a band that coined themselves "hardcore punk." This is a very important step up for the band, as their intense live show had always outdone their actual material, and now that feeling of excitement and eardrum destruction is captured onto disc. Shit, they even managed to make big-time loser Ben Kowalewicz's guest appearance on the song "Smiling Politely" sound bad-ass!

And if anyone out there is worried that the Bats might have gone soft, they can rest assured that this is by far their most hostile release. The Bats are far less user-friendly this time around and more aggressive, sounding more like a hardcore band playing metal than a metal band playing hardcore, as the band is more focused on putting out deafening bangers than coordinated moshers. This leaves the songs going at a slower pace than usual, allowing Middleton and drummer Mike Peters to get their shit together and really shine on tracks like "Deathsmarch," "Bastard's Waltz" and "PMA 'Til I DOA." In doing this, the band have also been able to shake themselves of the constant ETID comparisons. While the latter band can still be found prancing around, screaming/whining like a dying cat, their music has taken a more safer and formulated approach to the sub-genre (oddly enough, sounding a lot like the Bats did on Birthing the Giant, and even odder, just after the two had toured together... hmm...) while the Cancer Bats have almost gone full-blown metal a la Down.

As for Cormier's voice: major improvement. No longer crooning, Cormier is really giving it his all here, surely giving his vocal chords a workout as he does each and every single night the Bats play live. Check out "Let It Pour" for proof. If that isn't enough, it has a few interesting guest appearances, including Tim McIlrath of Rise Against and Alexisonfire's underrated vocalist Wade MacNeil ripping their pipes apart to keep up.

To say the Cancer Bats surpassed my expectations would be an understatement. Never did I think they could even match Birthing the Giant but somehow they did it even with Eric Ratz (Big Sugar, Theory of a Deadman) on co-production duty! It might not be as catchy for the kids, or as bro-y for the straight-edge dudes, but they've definitely become a more cohesive metal/hardcore hybrid thanks to constant touring with heavy bands of all two-steps of life.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 SoundCancer Bats - Birthing the GiantAgainst Me! - is Reinventing Axl RoseThe Flatliners - CavalcadeGallows - Grey BritainAlexisonfire - Old Crows / Young CardinalsGallows - Orchestra of WolvesCobra Skulls - American RubiconTeenage Bottlerocket - They Came from the ShadowsStreetlight Manifesto - Everything Goes Numb

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
PMAtill_ImDOA (November 6, 2008)

this is such a fucking good album.
brilliantly executed, and if you ever see these dudes live... fuck is their show amazing.
nice dudes too.

inagreendase (April 29, 2008)

It's like each songs is one big breakdown.

This is how people were describing Hot Damn! when it originally came out.

I guess CB really haven't escaped the comparisons...

feelinglow (April 29, 2008)

this will go down as one of the best hardcore records of 2008....unbelievable and original shite right here people. get with it

phish12 (April 29, 2008)

I went to a show this band played in East Van a while back. Bison opened...and then everyone left...including me

An_average_guy (April 28, 2008)

You can download it. Follow their MySpace link.

ben_conoley (April 28, 2008)

This album isn't out in the States yet. That might be why it's hard to find. Distort only does Canada and they have no American label anymore.

chrisafi (April 28, 2008)

Amusingly when I saw Cancer Bats last summer Cormier had a Comeback Kid shirt on....

thus_spoke_sean (April 28, 2008)

I dunno how well they do in the states, but i know theyre really good bros with THIS IS HELL.

I think the singer for Comeback Kid was wearing one of their tee shirts in the first video off broadcasting too. that couldnt hurt.

I dont think that they are BIG here in the states, but i dont think they are nobodies either. i know plenty of people who have at least heard of them

24HourPriapism (April 27, 2008)

haven't checked this one out yet, but if the vocals are mostly like the title track, i might have to pass. the sneery croon was what made cancer bats moderately distinctive. they were aggressive and swaggery by NOT overdoing the vocals. if the new shit's just out-and-out generic screaming, then meh.

score's for the single, not for the album.

chickswithdicks (April 27, 2008)

ugh

Jeevz (April 27, 2008)

Cancer Bats to me are an enigma, I don't really have anything else like them in my music library. It's like each songs is one big breakdown. I did notice the vocal change, probably for the better. If you like Birthing The Giant their's no reason to dislike Hail Destroyer. Solid disc!

moneenerd (April 27, 2008)

Well, i can say that the Cancer Bats are one of the bigger heavy bands in Canada right now, with 3 or 4 music videos on TV play. theyve also toured Europe and UK at least twice playing pretty big venues. I dunno how well they do in the states, but i know theyre really good bros with THIS IS HELL.

BrandonSideleau (April 27, 2008)

Listened to it......decent for what it is....but nothing too special. Not very edgy nor unique enough to be intense. But it's a hell of a lot better than Alexisonfire or many other "dime a dozen" bands of that kind. Screaming isn't intense unless it sounds raw and organic and surrounded by music that is interesting.

chrisafi (April 27, 2008)

There actually pretty big over in the UK, for a hardcore band anyway.

Given that they have in the last 24 months toured with the Bronx, Rise Against, Alexisonfire, Comeback Kid, Billy Talent and probably a bunch more bands, most people can at least recongnise the name

tenwestchaser (April 27, 2008)

Good band but I really don't believe they are like the modern beatles of hardcore as you make them sound. Sure a lot of music snobs like them, but they really aren't that big in the states. At all. I'm not sure about Canada. In fact, I couldn't find their cd anywhere! Resorted to online which I only do for shit I can't find else where.

So I was also nervous when I picked up "Birthing" when it had a giant sticker saying it was produced by some guy who's also produced Hinder or some other shitty radio band.

chrisafi (April 27, 2008)

Great album. Simple as that. Cancer Bats have proven themselves to be at the top of their game, and this is a great stepup from the in part equally brilliant but occasionally lacklustre Birthing the Giant.

Also Liams vocals are so much better on this.

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