Cancer Bats - The Spark That Moves

Cancer Bats

The Spark That Moves


Pure, unadulterated hell has been unleashed by the Cancer Bats here - and without any warning. The hardcore-punk-metal titans pulled a Beyonce and surprise released The Spark That Moves on April 20th, 2018. Surprise!

After their last album, Searching for Zero, earned them their fourth Juno nomination in 2015, Cancer Bats waited three years before returning to the studio. The good Canadian kids recorded in Winnipeg, Manitoba with JP Peters, and it was mixed by producer Eric Ratz who had worked on previous Cancer Bats’ albums Hail Destroyer, Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones, and Dead Set On Living. The production of The Sparks That Move is razor sharp and the sound quality is top notch. Released through their own label, Bat Skull Records in partnership with New Damage Records, it's an album that deserves to be blasted loud. 

Every song on The Spark That Moves is equally jam-packed, surging with energy and filling the airwaves with self-assured aggression. This album is more turbo-charged than snorting pre-workout. It’s got more horsepower than an 18-wheeler. There’s no letting off the throttle, at 34 minutes this album is on a clear mission: arrive, fuck shit up, and leave. Perfect for any workout or party playlist, each of The Spark That Moves 11 tracks will punch you in the gut and leave you begging for more. 

The album’s focus and precision does not mean every track is identical though - each one has a memorable moment. The noisy headbanging verses of “Gatekeeper” open up to catchy, melodic chorus. “Brightest Days” is one of the strongest on the album, bringing a merciless energy and pace jam-packed with filthy riffs, guitar squeals, and drum fills. “Bed of Nails” sees singer Liam Cormier break from his usual furious screaming to take a more held back approach with cleaner vocals. 

Guitarist Scott Middleton tears through riffs like a hot knife through butter, his guitar snarling and squealing all along the way. “Brightest Days”, “Can’t Sleep”, and “Heads Will Roll”, all contain some of the filthiest guitar riffs on the album. Mike Peters’ presence on the bass guitar is also strongly felt throughout the album. It fills the band’s sound to the brim, providing a meaty sense of depth. Vocalist Liam Cormier delivers a relentless attack and each word stings with ferocious attitude. All the while, drummer Jaye R. Schwarzer sets the group’s blistering pace, spilling out fills all over the album. Cancer Bats bring the complete artillery and crank every dial to 10.  

There is a method to the madness though. Subtle, but effective breaks in pace, such as the piano intro of “Fear Will Kill Us All”, give the listener a brief moment to catch their breath before dragging them back down into the fiery pit of pandemonium and destruction. Lyrics also standout on “Space and Time”, which discusses mankind’s environmental impact: “We’re all corrupt, leave it behind, the Earth deserves so much better than the human kind.” 

“We Run Free” is an anthemic party track that feels just a little too upbeat and positive compared to raging rest of the rest of the album. It seems like Cancer Bats were going for more of a radio-friendly approach here, but it comes off as cheesy. This tacky, anthemic writing also appears on “Winterpeg” (even though it’s a nice tribute to the city of Winnipeg where the album was recorded). While not necessarily bad songs on their own, they don’t blend in nicely with the rest of the album. 

This is Cancer Bats at the top of their game, playing off their strengths, and firing on all cylinders. Nothing is held back as Cancer Bats blaze their demented path leaving only devastated ruins in their wake. A skull-crushing banger of an album.