Cancer Bats - Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones
Hardcore/ Southern Metal
14 songs (44:36)
Release year: 2010
Cancer Bats, Distort
Reviewed by Tyler

The underground’s favorite “too punk to be metal, too metal to be punk” sons are back, and they are heavier than ever. With their new disc Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones, the Toronto-hailing Cancer Bats have embraced a darker, slower, and overall heavier sound than their two preceding albums.

I have to admit that I awaited this album’s release with a degree of fanboy excitement. The previous Cancer Bats album, Hail Destroyer, is one of my favorite albums to be released within the last five years, if not one of my favorite albums ever. I picked up the album about a year ago after seeing it on a Metal Hammer End of the Year list, and I’ve been enamored with it since. If you haven’t listened to it yet, I’d suggest you check it out. To me, it’s damn close to a perfect album. The way the Cancer Bats so effortlessly combine honest punk and real metal seemed so right to me, and seeing them on a recent Anti-Flag tour (where they were easily the best and most metal band) was an almost life-affirming experience for me. It was one of those “how the hell are they going to follow up this one” albums, so I counted down the days from the moment it was announced until Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones album was in my hands.

Right out of the gate, the Cancer Bats surprise with opening song Sleep This Away. Compared to the opening title track from Hail Destroyer, which was an immediate kick in the ass with a huge chorus, Sleep This Away is a much slower, darker song. With the bass thumping along quite audibly, the guitars droning, and the drums pounding, singer Liam Cormier roars lyrics about escapism, suffering, and feeling plain tired. If might not be the best way to open such an album, but it is a hell of a song and it sends an immediate message that this album is taking a much more mature and reserved direction that the band’s previous offerings.

The next track, Trust No One pushes the tempo back into faster, more familiar territory. Cormier switches back and forth between his visceral screams and an almost spoken form of clean vocals, which creates an effective dynamic that is found in nearly every song in the album. As always, Scott Middleton’s guitar riffs and solos are heavily distorted and psychotic, sounding part Kerry King and part Tom Morello. It is definitely a unique style of guitar playing within the realm of hardcore punk, and along with Cormier’s hardcore vocals, it creates a distinctive contrast that absolutely works.

The album regularly swings between mid-paced songs and fast-paced songs, and many of the songs have a number of tempo changes that keeps things fresh and interesting. While the mid-paced songs are solid, the faster songs like Scared to Death and the absolutely devastating We Are the Undead seem much more energetic and inspired. However, there are a few slow to mid-paced songs that are among the best and most unique the band has done to date. Raised Right is an anthem waiting to happen, and it has some great, down to earth lyrics about remembering where you come from and the lessons your parents teach you. The Danzig inspired Darkness Lives is another album highlight, and it is easily one of the slowest, darkest, and most daring songs the Cancer Bats have made thus far in their short careers. The album closes with a furious cover of the Beastie Boys classic Sabotage. As soon as I heard that this cover would be on the new album, I thought it was an amazing idea, and the band proves me right on this one; the boys execute the song to perfection, and make it easily one of the best cover songs I’ve ever heard.

Putting aside the massive hype and expectation I placed on this album after Hail Destroyer, Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones neither disappoints me nor blows me away. It is not quite as exciting and youthful as the band’s previous albums, but it is also a slower-burning affair, and every listen makes the songs grow on the listener a bit more. It was definitely an interesting direction for the band to take, but it will doubtlessly add some interesting variety to the band’s live repertoire. This new record ultimately fails to disappoint, but it doesn’t see the band reaching its full potential. Hopefully, the Cancer Bats will prove to us with their future albums and live shows that they didn’t peak with their sophomore album.

Killing Songs :
Sleep This Away, Trust No One, Dead Wrong, Black Metal Bicycle, We Are the Undead, Scared to Death, Darkness Lives, Raised Right, Sabotage
Tyler quoted 88 / 100
Other albums by Cancer Bats that we have reviewed:
Cancer Bats - Hail Destroyer reviewed by Goat and quoted 74 / 100
Cancer Bats - Birthing The Giant reviewed by Ross and quoted 85 / 100
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