Cancer Bats

Dead Set On Living

Written by: PP on 29/05/2012 05:15:45

"Dead Set On Living" is the first Cancer Bats album where I feel like some of their ferocious and intense live energy is finally captured properly on record. Somewhere in between their previous album and their fourth one the band has discovered a way to funnel their crazy live performances away from the crowds and into the studio microphones and the trusting hands of their longtime producers Eric Ratz and Kenny Luong. Effectively, this is going to be the breakthrough album for Cancer Bats if they even needed one in the first place. It's the one that'll convince those fans of hardcore who haven't yet seen the band (most of all vocalist Liam Cormier) destroy the stage live that they're worthy also on record, something which hasn't always come across on old material, at least not consistently enough to make a difference.

Where "Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones" was an improvement from the far too metalcore oriented "Hail Destroyer", it suffered from having only a few stand out tracks and a lot of standard hardcore rolls that couldn't really stand comparison to the best bands on the genre (live is a different matter altogether of course). It was as if these tracks were written to be played for live, and so without the crowd dynamic they felt a little one-dimensional and predictable over the long run. That's something that doesn't exist on "Dead Set On Living", as already the opener "R.A.T.S" has a high-energy vibe that displays precisely the sort of ferocious execution as the band is known for in a live environment. The following track "Bricks And Mortar" isn't quite as chaotic, as it slows down the tempo to the level of many "Bears..." tracks, but Liam's thick screams pull this one home as well effortlessly with a surprisingly catchy chorus for a hardcore song.

That's a repeating theme throughout the record, as Cancer Bats have written the most catchy and most groovy songs of their career. Whether it's the southern tuned guitar on the title track (no doubt influenced by Every Time I Die) or the gang shout support on "Rally The Wicked", the feeling of one-dimensional and boring hardcore song just isn't present on this album. That might be the most important victory by Cancer Bats this time around, as they finally progress from the standard hardcore formula into a sound that defines their identity and makes it impossible to mistake them for anyone else (except maybe Gallows sans Frank Carter, but that's a discussion for another time). For me personally the biggest change might be that Cancer Bats now sound 100% like a hardcore band, whereas in the past it often sounded like they couldn't decide whether they wanted to write metalcore riffs and have a hardcore barker on top of them. So even though "Dead Set On Living" is still not the genre classic fans were waiting for (a few rounds through the live environment might change that over the years), it is still a solid outing in the style that showcases you don't need to have clean vocals to be catchy and groovy as a hardcore band.

Download: Rats, Bricks And Mortar, Dead Set On Living
For the fans of: Gallows, The Ghost Of A Thousand, Every Time I Die, Johnny Truant,
Listen: Bandcamp

Release date 16.04.2012
Distort Entertainment / Hassle Records / Metal Blade Records

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