Cancer Bats

Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones

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Toronto-based punk-metal band Cancer Bats' third album on as many labels retains all the aggression and rage of its two predecessors. Their sludgy sound is hard to characterize -- it's not as raucous and raw as punk, but it lacks the sometimes inhuman precision of death metal or thrash. The vocals are a harsh scream, occasionally supported by clean counterpoints, but "harmony" is a concept with which Cancer Bats are apparently unfamiliar. They're also not big on showy displays of technical virtuosity; these songs are built from riffs guaranteed to get crowds riled and shouting along, but the guitar solos are short and to the point, as they were with bands like the MC5 or the New York Dolls. They throw in a few variations on their basic formula without ever becoming progressive or "experimental"; the sidewinding riff of "Snake Mountain" and the slow-burning stoner rock of "Raised Right" are clearly the product of one band with one vision. If the album has a flaw, it's the excessive length -- 14 tracks in 45 minutes should have been shaved down to ten in 30. But overall, this is a solid effort from a band with a lot to offer fans of aggressive rock who aren't too worried about categories.

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