Sound — 9
Bridging the gap between Hardcore and Metal is always met with criticism, but I would struggle to see where fans of either would find reason to complain. Cancer Bats prove here that they are able to marry the two genres together in a way that balances them perfectly, focusing not on the contrast between them but in the ways that they can be blended together; raw, shouted vocals meet heavily distorted guitars, pounding percussion and unfussy but driving bass mingles with truly memorable riffs. Many criticisms of the so-called 'metalcore' genre are avoided; there's melody without an overly whiny sound, Punk intensity backed up by well-structured riffs and a sense of urgency that's unrelenting throughout. At no point does it sound as if this band wouldn't give their lives for either genre.
Lyrics — 8
As with any band of this nature, the quality of the lyrics is only apparent to those who read the booklet. Vocalist Liam Cormier effectively uses the vocal and lyrical style that is found on the more hard-edged punk bands like Agnostic Front, and newer genre-hopping metal bands bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan and Lamb Of God; no Bad Religion 'Oooh's' and 'Aaah's' here. From the throat-shredding screams of 'Hail...Destroyer!' in the opening number, to the instantly quotable slogan-like verses of 'Harem of Scorpions' ("We'll chase our future down the barrel of a gun.") The band also don't shy away from group chants, which no doubt gain even more power when played live with audience participation.
Overall Impression — 9
This CD is a testament to the power of the older ways of making intense music; In a time when bands seem hellbent on reinventing the wheel, Cancer Bats recognise that sometimes... people just want what they know, and driving riffs delivered with passion can be just as entertaining as the newest fad genre. A philosophy that has been taken on by bands such as Hatebreed in the past, but it's never felt quite as genuine as here.