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Cancer Bats – The Spark That Moves album review

Toronto punk champions Cancer Bats deliver more attitude than hooks

Cancer Bats – The Spark That Moves album artwork
The Spark That Moves

1. Gatekeeper
2. Brightest Day
3. We Run Free
4. Space And Time
5. Bed Of Nails
6. Headwound
7. Fear Will Kill Us All
8. Rattlesnake
9. Can't Sleep
10. Heads Will Roll
11. Winterpeg

It’s been three years since Cancer Bats last reared their lairy, sweaty heads. Last time, Searching For Zero angered some in the punk community looking for better production but delighted those who prefer their music a little more rough around the edges. Cancer Bats clearly haven’t listened to the critics, as The Spark That Moves is still a rugged, murky affair, but it acts as a reminder of why we fell in love with the Canadians in the first place.

Cancer Bats are still out for fun, and their sixth full-length still brings an infectious joy and enthusiasm to the Southern rock-tinged party. Each song sounds like a runaway train, rollicking along covered in its own spittle. That said, it’s missing the ball-busting anthemics we know and love – how many times have you thrown down to Hail Destroyer or Bricks And Mortar? Sure, We Run Free brings the chaos and revved-up fury only they can deliver, but there’s a distinct lack of hooks throughout, and the back end of the album struggles to retain the same semblance of adrenaline and anticipation as the opening bounce and determination of Gatekeeper.

Liam Cormier’s signature drawl and Scott Middleton’s rampant riffery provide a titanium spine to the frenetic fervour. Not every song is a classic, but there’s not even a hint of a band selling out or settling down. This is the sound of a band comfortable in their own inky skin, bringing barrels of charismatic chaos to the world’s punk contingent. While Liam bellows about humanity’s lack of respect for the planet on Space And Time, there’s a vein of defiance and independence pumping through each track. Hearing a bunch of smiling, fist-pumping diehards return to the OG sensibilities of sticking your middle finger into the face of anyone who tells you how to live or love (see Headwound) remains a cause for celebration. No, it’s not going to set the world of rock’n’roll aflame, but as long as the Cancer Bats fire keeps burning, the world is a better place.