Bands of the hardcore variety are not known for their fondness of subtlety, but more often than not it isn't really needed to get their point across. Now on their third album, Toronto's Cancer Bats serve as a fine example of this. Aggressive riffs, roaring vocals, and crushing grooves are what they do best, and on Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones, they're back with each one in fine abundance. While to anybody who isn't a fan of the band wouldn't notice much difference from the post-hardcore norm, the band has solidified their sound handsomely, and while it's not a masterpiece by any means, it's their most impressive effort to date.

There's a fairly clear step up from Cancer Bats' earlier work, but it isn't a result of progression in songwriting, or growing talent in the playing itself. What really sets Bears apart from the band's previous two albums is the consolidation of their musical approach. The hardcore-meets-metal template is still in tact, with a bit more of a sludge influenced groove and certain post-hardcore stylings, like the way that vocalist Liam Cormier is able to scream with a somewhat stronger touch of melodicism.

Guitarist Scott Middleton lays down some pummeling, yet rousing riffs, and is key in how the band encompasses its number of metallic styles. Trust No One is an early example of his ability to switch up from frantic to slow and brooding, and he sounds alternately explosive on Darkness and Drive This Stake and downright bluesy on the penultimate track Raised Right. The rhythm section keeps the intensity high as well, particularly with how surprisingly tight they sound with Middleton on Fake Gold and Dead Wrong, with all three thrashing away in a fierce conjunction.

While the style is well achieved, Cancer Bats accomplish little else here... which is for the most part fine, except that the album's length is a bit more than one would expect from a record like this. It feels like a few songs could have been dropped to keep the album's flow feeling fresh, as after the thirty-five minute mark Bears starts to run out of steam. This is nothing against the songs themselves, in fact the latter tracks are particularly good, as mentioned before. It's just that a band like this will have a bit more difficulty maintaining the listener's same level of interest from the beginning without showing much diversity in too long a period of time.

Cancer Bats definitely delivers the goods on their third full-length. Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones offers healthy doses of both aggression and groove, and while a tad overlong, makes for a fun listen. Plus there's a cover of the Beastie Boys' mid-nineties classic Sabotage, which doesn't quite measure up to the original (how could it), but is still a great addition nonetheless. While Bears is more of a fun listen than a technically accomplished effort, that isn't to call it forgettable or unremarkable. Cancer Bats do little to step outside the proverbial box or expand their sound in any way, but with as good as they are as what they do, it's hard to really mind for the most part.

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AuthorDagan
CategoriesPost Hardcore

alexisonfire old crows young cardinals

I can still remember when Mr. Dunnington (or Joe LaSecla if you’re nasty) let me borrow a copy of this band called Alexisonfire in late 2004. He didn’t warn me about how hard my face was about to get rocked, but I forgive him, and even thank him for my facial tenderizing.

Not to be confused with the porn website of the same name that I “accidently” traveled to in order to reach the bands website, Alexisonfire has gone platinum in Canada three times already, with a fourth platinum record to be delivered very soon I’m sure, with the release of their latest album, Old Crows/Young Cardinals.

People ask me to describe what the band is like, and the first thing that usually comes to mind, is to imagine if Heaven and Hell were to make a truce for the day and create an album on the state of the world. With the hamfist-in-the-face screaming of George Pettit and axe work/demon-noise of Wade MacNeil, combined with the good vibrations of Chris Steele and Angelic axe/ soul-song of Dallas Green, you have one of the best combinations in Post Hardcore to date. And all the while we have Jordan Hastings bringing us down to Earth with his drumming, ever since his joining of the band in 2005.

I’ve honestly never seen a better pairing of vocalists in a band before. Personally, Dallas Green has been one of my favorite front men in music for quite a long time. He’s known for absolutely killing choruses that he sings on (my people call ‘killing’ a chorus as an endearing term mind you) for years, while also known outside the band for his side project City and Colour. Green tickles the ivory now and again across the bands albums (this time the organ on The Northern and Burial), and maintains his standing this year with a great performance.

But I digress. OC/YC opens powerfully with the track Old Cardinals, but not too quickly. I admire this because it gave us time to really set the tone of the album to a feeling of epic proportion. Its lyrics hint of an evolution of our generation with “we are not the kids we used to be/stop wishing for yesterday”. Perhaps it also hints at the death of old ways, and becoming the young cardinals of tomorrow.

alexisonfire

Appropriately so, the second track, Young Cardinals, picks up the pace and changes the subject matter to something much more relevant for a young cardinal to ponder about; the state of our world as we sit and watch it. Perhaps the band is referring to the kids who so far don’t know the dangers and deceit of our world just yet. With lyrics like this, it’s hard not to think so:

Oh Young Cardinals

Nesting in the trees

Oh hear our songs

Reign your innocence on me

This album is so emotionally charged, that it’s hard to keep this a simple review. The overall theme of the album seems that we are the ones who were meant to take on the burden of those before us, in a way that has never been done before; and Born and Raised reminds me of that task ahead, and what we go through in the minds of my generation.

The eighth track, Emerald Street gives me nostalgia of the themes referred to in the bands 2004 album Watch Out!, with the theme being a broken down society, with us barely being able to scrape by in the forgotten neighborhoods and halfway houses.

Above all though, Midnight Regulations gave me the biggest sense of appreciation for this album. Not only because of the incredible changeup in the chorus instrumentals, or Dallas Greens’ spot on method of singing said chorus; but also the subject matter which made me feel like it was describing how I feel about the mentioned ‘common man’ of the song. Not only is it the best song on the album, but one of the best singles of the year; and it will be hard to match the rich content of this one.

From the passing of the easy days with opening song Old Crows, to the set standards we face of Born and Raised, to waving to the girls of Emerald Street, to the world Heading for the Sun, and finally to the sun hiding and leaving us cold with the ending track, Burial, Alexisonfire is at its best.

This is easily on my top ten albums of the year list, with a definite foothold in the top three while I’m at it. The album is already out, and I expect you to get this one, if not for the amazing music composition, then at least to wake up and hear where our lives are headed. Well played boys.

Until next time my friends,

~Flak

Bonus: Check out the video for Young Cardinals below!