Cancer Bats recently released their fifth full-length album, Searching For Zero, on Metal Blade Records. Hailing from Toronto, Canada, their music is hard to place in a specific category as they continuously draw from different genres such as sludge metal, hardcore punk and metalcore. After undergoing some lineup changes early on, the band has maintained the same members since 2007, which shows in their tight knit sound. The success and time since their popular fourth album, Dead Set On Living (2012) have made the new album eagerly anticipated by fans. Because they took most of 2014 off from touring, the band was able to spend more time focused on writing Searching For Zero, and initial listens to the album prove that this effort has paid off.
The album starts off with ‘Satellites,’ which was the first single released for the album, back in November of last year. The song’s warlike intensity and catchy lyrics make it the perfect opening track. Next up is ‘True Zero,’ which the band released as a single accompanied by a music video back in January. Lyrically, the song sums up the message of the album as a whole. Starting off with “Need to remind myself who I really am,” it discusses finding one’s roots and how from the bottom you can only go up. One of the standout tracks is ‘Arsenic In The Year Of The Snake,’ which talks directly about how the band members lost several friends in the past year (2013). The lyrics are both clever and moving, playing on the number thirteen being considered unlucky. When frontman Liam Cormier finishes the song by screaming, “Too many friends died this year,” the raw emotions behind his words are clearly audible. As the album continues on, Cancer Bats prove their ability to excel at a variety of genres. ‘All Hail,’ is short in the classic punk tradition, clocking in at just one minute and twenty-eight seconds. ‘Buds’ is pure Sabbath-esque metal with wailing guitars. The album races toward the close with fast-paced drums and emphatic vocals on ‘No More Bull S***.’
Overall, the album maintains their patent heaviness, while edging perhaps a bit more in the radio-friendly direction. The drumbeats have a bit more energy to them, which proves a nice contrast to the sludgy guitar parts. It has a great deal of variation in tempo and style throughout, which keeps the listener engaged. Thematically, Cancer Bats thankfully maintain the optimistic lyrical content that garnered so much attention on their previous album, Dead Set On Living. Searching For Zero certainly brings to life the outstanding energy of Cancer Bats’ live shows and proves that they are here to stay.
This month Cancer Bats will be touring around North America in support of the new album. Then, the band will be heading over to Europe with While She Sleeps starting in April. As part of that tour, they will be hitting the Institute in Birmingham on the 22nd of April, which will be a show not to be missed.