Cancer Bats – ‘You’ll Never Break Us: Separation Sessions Vol. 1’

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If you’ve ever wondered what your favourite hardcore songs would sound like if they were the soundtrack to a film inspired by the works of Cormac McCarthy, then wonder no longer – Cancer Bats have emerged from lockdown with a stripped-back reimagining of some of their absolute ragers.

For a band so accustomed to travelling to every corner of the globe on a daily basis, this pandemic-induced downtime has allowed some room to breathe. In ‘You’ll Never Break Us: Separation Sessions Vol. 1’, you find a side to Cancer Bats you probably would never have imagined while bouncing around sweat-stained pits in the underground clubs of provincial towns.

The EP, from which all proceeds go to Water First NGO, sees a level of experimentation we’ve not really heard from the Bats before. Front man Liam Cormier’s vocals, while taken down a couple of notches, have the same gruff intensity we know and love, while the unforgettable licks from guitarist Scott Middleton have swapped over to the acoustic guitar to create an almost country vibe.

As with all Cancer Bats records, there is plenty of swagger involved. ‘Lucifer’s Slightly Less Rocking Chair’ takes the ultimate fan favourite ‘Lucifer’s Rocking Chair’ and adds an unmistakable groove. It paints a picture of crossing the open roads of America’s western deserts, where the only shapes on the horizons are those of coyotes and vultures.

There’s still the trademark Cancer Bat energy coursing through the more up-tempo ‘Road Sick Sick Sick So Stay Home’ and ‘Darkness Lite’, while ‘Deathsmarch To A New Acoustic Beat’, featuring Ojibway singer-songwriter Nick Sherman provides an excellent juxtaposition between Cormier’s growls and Sherman’s elegant croon. The current predicament also gives the line of, “Hey world, you’ll never break me, try your hardest”, an extra layer of poignancy.

When you follow a band like Cancer Bats for so long, nothing should really surprise you – but with ‘You’ll Never Break Us…’ the band have pulled another rabbit out of the hat.

TOM WALSH

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