It’s never surprising to learn that someone doesn’t like heavy rock. Like Marmite, it’s simply not to everyone’s taste.
And yet, the reason why Marmite is an accepted part of British culture, while heavy rock music is seen as an alternative lifestyle declaration, is that every yeast extract lover can agree that it’s a taste sensation, the ultimate accompaniment to a cup of sugary tea.
Fans of rocks heavier side of the musical spectrum can’t unite on anything. Just look at the comments under virtually any punk, hardcore or metal clip on YouTube. Musical differences of opinion swiftly dissolve into toothless insults, usually involving the words ‘Emo’ and ‘Your Mum’.
You’d think that the rise of metalcore in the late 90’s would have brought the divergent tribes together. But too often this mix of downturned riffing and throat-shredding vocals merely was always going to be a shaky one.
Which brings us, in a relatively circular way, to Toronto’s Cancer Bats, a very heavy band indeed.
Hard, fast and very heavy
They haven’t reinvented the wheel. They’re not blending genres to change the face of heaviness. What they’re doing is writing and playing great songs. Some sound like hardcore. Some sound like metal. Some are fast. Some are slower. All are heavy. Cancer Bats made their debut in 2006 with the album Birthing the Giant, its standout track, French Immersion
So far, so rocking. But things got really interesting with their second long player, 2008’s Hail Destroyer. Winning them critical acclaim, a Kerrang cover feature tour and a tour that unveiled a ferocious live band, Hail Destroyer also spawned a hilarious video celebrating the dubious pleasures of the cross-Canada tour, Lucifer’s Rocking Chair.
Nice Guys? You bat
Perhaps more than in any other area, this is where Cancer Bats have separated themselves from the crowd. In a musical field that holds authenticity and aggression as the ultimate badges of honour, Cancer Bats aren’t afraid to portray themselves as nice guys, more than able to laugh at themselves.
Don’t be alarmed by vocalist Liam Cormier’s ferocious growl. He’s a teetotal vegetarian who’s happier talking about his bikes than what or what isn’t hardcore. Although they’ve wisely shunned the decadent rock star roles, the band was happy to appear in the Page 3 tribute magazine Front. If it gets even a handful of new fans interested, why not?
Third album Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones came out this April, with an obvious highlight in a blistering cover version of the Beastie Boys’ Sabotage (and a clear nominee for the funniest video of 2010)
Is this the video that opens up the world’s eyes to the pleasures of hardcore? The four minutes of fun that brings a new generation of heavy music fans together? There’s not a band out there with a better chance of making it happen.
Hugeness beckons, but as Cancer Bats demonstrated in the Lucifer’s Rocking Chair Video, it’s the journey, not the destination, that’s the real fun.