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Cancer Bats - 'You'll Never Break Us: Separation Sessions Vol. 1' EP Review


1. Deathsmarch To A New Acoustic Beat

2. Road Sick Sick Sick So Stay Home

3. Black Metal Bicycle My Blues Riffs Away

4. Darkness Lite

5. Bed Of Nails Dreams Of Tambourines

6. Lucifer’s Slightly Less Rocking Chair

7. Bastards Waltz Recorded Live From TV

Canadian Metal outfit Cancer Bats have released a new EP, 'You'll Never Break Us: Separation Sessions Vol. 1', their first ever acoustic release.

The first track, ‘Deathsmarch To A New Acoustic Beat’ sets the tone for the EP perfectly. It is completely different fare to the usual releases Cancer Bats put out. We are left with a haunting, menacing take on fan favourite song ‘Deathsmarch’ from the band’s 2008 album 'Hail Destroyer'. Instead of the usual screams and growls, we are left with an eerie croon, the guitar riffs given a softer turn.

‘Road Sick Sick Sick So Stay Home’ continues the pattern, showing off vocalist Liam Cormier’s talents, but with an added harshness to the vocals, which provides a great contrast to the acoustic guitars behind them. While it doesn’t reach the usual aggression Cancer Bats are known for, it has a different impact, showing that the band can have a softer side while playing different versions of their songs.

‘Black Metal Bicycle My Blues Riffs Away’ lives up to its title. It feels like a twisted, warped Blues tune, almost akin to the banjo cover of Slipknot’s ‘Psychosocial’ that YouTubers Rob Scallon and Leo Moracchioli did a few years back, and while that was done for comedy it was still a very good cover, and doesn’t detract from the feel of this song for me. Its a great sound for the band, and it provides a chance for them to shine in ways fans may not have expected.

The next track is ‘Darkness Lite’. Despite being acoustic, it still sounds as big as its original counterpart ‘Darkness Lives’. It begins with drums drenched in reverb, and whilst the lyrics aren’t screamed, the harmonies that take over instead are absolutely brilliant. I never thought I’d hear, let alone enjoy, acoustic chugging riffs, but here I am. The vocals almost remind me of Layne Staley, former frontman of Alice In Chains, and that is definitely a compliment, given how much I love that band.

‘Bed Of Nails Dreams Of Tambourines’ picks up the pace, keeping the same time as its original, sounding a bit less like a pure acoustic version and more like a hybrid, which just goes further to prove how much range this band has. The drums in this track still feel full force, yet the guitars are acoustic and it includes tambourines, and there’s a keys/synth solo that has a fairground feel. I reckon if you wanted to transition someone into listening to metal gently, this is the song you’d show them.

‘Lucifer’s Slightly Less Rocking Chair’ (which is probably my favourite title of the album) slows the pace again, showing a more dark and brooding side again. I can’t help but get an Alice Cooper crossed with Ozzy Osbourne vibe from this track which I absolutely adore. Cancer Bats aren’t afraid to show their influences loud and proud, and despite being an acoustic track, you still want to play this track loud. Never has an acoustic guitar solo been so riveting, and what’s even better is that it’s a dual guitar solo. Heavy riffs and shakers should absolutely become a thing in 2021.

‘Bastards Waltz Recorded Live From TV’ has a beautiful lo-fi sound to it. I’m pretty sure someone did actually record it from their TV set and it isn’t actually as bad as that sounds. It feels like when you listen back to videos you’ve taken at a concert, and in this time where we can’t go to gigs, that is definitely a feeling I treasure. It’s lo-fi, but everything is still clear enough to make out, and isn’t that what really matters? It once again has that bluesy feel to it, and the vocals conjure memories of watching Nirvana’s famous unplugged set, which is a strong contender for one of my favourite live albums ever.

While I’m all for Metal bands doing acoustic songs and non-Metal artists covering Metal songs acoustically, 'You'll Never Break Us: Separation Sessions Vol. 1' is something completely unique that I’ve never come across before. Cancer Bats have really pushed themselves, showing that they’re not just brash and loud, and can bring it down a notch while still delivering their message effectively. I struggle to think of any words to describe this EP other than impressive. It’ll be interesting to see if this has any impact on any future Cancer Bats releases.

Review - Gordon Rae


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