Cancer Bats - Searching for Zero (Cooking Vinyl Australia)

From the slough of despond comes a cathartic release...
Release Date: 
8 Mar 2015 - 11:30pm

Canadian metallic punks Cancer Bats had a rough time of it in 2014, losing several close friends and band associates, leading several band members to question whether they even wanted to get involved with the comparative bagatelle of being in a band again after such soul-testing depths of turmoil had been explored. Suffice to say they got back on the horse, and the decision to do so is vindicated by the snorting, pulsing beast that they created to replace the hurt, Searching for Zero.

Making this record was clearly cathartic for the band, and that catharsis is converted into some of the most compelling music they’ve made under the Cancer Bats banner; Opening track Satellites is a rousing unveiling of the album’s blueprint, fusing metallic guitars and hardcore-informed gang vocals to devastating effect. True Zero distils the mixture further, but it’s the ragged Arsenic in the Year of the Snake that really gets the blood racing for the first time in earnest. Featuring a fantastically committed vocal from Liam Cormier, it’s an anthemic kkick in the gonads that you’ll find yourself returning to again and again in the months to come.

The doomier Beelzebub features some tight-but-loose riffing from Scott Middleton that’ll have fans of doom – whether it be aficionados of the punky, Corrosion of Conformity end of the spectrum or straight-up Iommi worshippers – raising the horns and nodding necks in appreciation worldwide, and the satanic theme is extended into next track Devil’s Blood which is a hard-driving mix of blast-furnace vocalising and propulsive riffage all in the name of praising the horned one. Or something. Whatever it’s about it’ll get the hairs on the back of your neck forming little circle pits right across what I believe is known as the ‘nape’of that particular area.

Cursed With a Conscience slows things down in pace, but what the track lacks in speed is more than compensated by some more raw-throated Cormier vocal attrition and another brutal drumming performance from Mike Peters. The man plays a blinder throughout in harness with rhythm buddy Jaye R. Schwarzer, the pairs efforts aided immensely by a sympathetic production from Ross Robinson that allows you to get the full benefit of what both men are doing on every song. 

All Hail – a tribute to GWAR frontman Dave Brockie – sounds just as you’d imagine, whilst closing triumvirate Buds, Dusted and the superb closer No More Bullshit by turns buffet, bluster and bully the listener into submission with wave after wave of supercharged aural aggression. 

For all the emotion and negative energy excised from the Cancer Bats collective on Searching for Zero, the album is surprisingly easy to listen to; Every song has some sort of barbed hook, be it vocal or musical, to hang on to and if you yourself are looking at exorcising your own demons then this isn’t a bad musical accompaniment for same. A triumphant release in every respect.