Album Review: Dead Set On Living – Cancer Bats

Another glorious album review! This time from a man who lives in a dark and dusty dorm room in a country town, Sean0graphy.

—Written by Sean0graphy—

—Edited/formatted by Vagrantesque—

April 2012
Genre: Hardcore Punk, Sludge Metal, Doom Punk

Still one of the best band names I’ve ever seen.


1. R.A.T.S
2. Bricks and Mortar
3. Road Sick
4. Breathe Armageddon
5. Dead Set On Living
6. The Void
7. Old Blood
8. Drunken Physics
9. Bastards
10. Rally the Wicked
11. New World Alliance

-As a foreword, I highly suggest listening to this album as you read the review, even if you are not a fan of the music. It will help you understand it better-

Since their inception in 2004, the Cancer Bats, comprising of front man Liam Cormier, guitarist Scott Middleton, bassist Jaye R. Schwartzer and Mike Peters on drums, have never really fit into one genre, each album having it’s own distinct sound. The trend continues with this haymaker of an album. Jumping from songs that are so punk that you want to get up and two-step to songs that are so heavy that your neck will hurt for weeks to come, the album shows that the boys really are Dead Set On Living.

The album opens with the heavier-than-lead track R.A.T.S, which conjures memories of previous album openers by the Toronto four piece. The lyrical content of the song gives a view of the thematic idea of the album, which is a lot brighter, but more down to earth than the previous three albums.

Following this is the two-step inciting Bricks and Mortar. With fantastic gang-vocal choruses and lines like: “You can tear away my flesh, you can break all my bones, you will never take my soul”, this song is perfect as a replacement Eye of the Tiger on the morning jogs where you need the inspiration to keep going.

The almost tongue in cheek (watch the music video for this song) Road Sick is a reminder that the boys aren’t giving up any time soon. From the blistering opening to the very last note, this song has a pace that will keep your heart pounding and your head banging. Interestingly enough, it is also the first Cancer Bats song to feature Liam’s clean vocals, though this does not detract from the song at all.

Speaking of clean vocals, Breathe Armageddon follows through on this idea and the slower follow up to Road Sick again features his clean vocals. Though the song is slower, it features more technical guitars and heavier bass. The grinding bass backed with sharp drums in the second verse leading into the bridge that showcases Scott Middleton’s guitar skills is the highlight of one of the poorer songs on the album.

The title track of this terrific album is opened with a slamming drum line that doesn’t let up during the song, leading into the most memorable guitar riff on the album during the verses. The song is biographical of a “fifth member of the band”, a close personal friend who had been touring with the band during their early days. The song is one of if not the most memorable of the whole album, due mostly in part to the lyrical content of the song as well as the blasting verses that lead into the grungy valleys of the chorus and the gang vocals of the title line “Dead Set, on Living, Dead Set, on Life” that bring the song to a close.

From the cracking pace of Dead Set On Living to the almost dreary track that is The Void, the song definitely lives up to it’s name. It is the void of the album. It starts off slow and never really picks up pace. It is a slow grinding song that seems out of place in the album.

The blistering piece of musical ecstasy that is Old Blood is the perfect follow up to the previous song. The chorus: “That’s why I got to keep on climbing” is exactly what this song does for the album as it only gets better from here on out. The song also holds some of the most technical instrumental work on the album, the song switching pace quicker than you can blink. Whilst it doesn’t keep the same pace as the opening, it is almost guaranteed to keep your face melting for the whole track.

‘Let the Hadrons collide!’ The first words of Drunken Physics aptly sum up the lyrics of this song. Yes indeed, this is a blasting sludge punk song about physics. And it is great. Seriously, it is the best song on the album; the leg tapping rhythm, the cheeky lyrics about science, the raw screamed vocals, the song is everything that music should be, and none of what it shouldn’t be.

Bastards starts off with a pounding drum beat that will get your head banging before the song starts proper. And that is not a bad thing, though you might get whiplash if you keep it up. The word ‘brutal’ is thrown around the metal sub genres with reckless abandon, but this song is right and properly brutal. The chugging guitar, the blasting drums, the throbbing bass and absolutely scathing vocals; this song is a racing track of anger. The guest vocals of Dez Fafara of DevilDriver and Kate Cooper of An Horse, only seem to add to the track. The end is neck snappingly sudden, and leaves you with pent up energy….

……Which is why Rally The Wicked is the perfect follow up to it. The song kicks off at a gallop with no look of slowing down. It gives me a sense of tarantism, an overwhelming need to dance and move. Even the slower bridge has a slow two-step feel about it, so even if you were at a concert, deep in the mosh, you could still move along to the beat. The song has a feeling of old school punk, both in lyrics and musical execution, the best way to lead into the closing track of the album.

The first line of the track New World Alliance accurately sum up the entire album. “Bang your head, this is the New Alliance.” It is a new alliance, the album as a whole, pairing hardcore, metal, punk and various other subgenres spawned into a slow, sludge filled, heavy closer to wrap up the album. The chorus “Open your eyes, invert your mind” is a jab at elitists, who seem to look down their noses at band like the Bats who don’t mind mixing genres. The song closes with some vicious vocals, spat out with venom. It is the perfect close to my favourite album of 2012.

The whole tone of the album is shades brighter than the previous instalment from the boys, shown both lyrically and in the physical album itself. The track names in the insert are all done with a street art feel about them, alluding to the punk roots that they all share. It is more akin to their first album, Birthing The Giant, the feel a lot more punk and hardcore than the follow ups Hail Destroyer and Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones, which both had a metalcore twang to them. The album, though, shows that the boys aren’t afraid to get back to their roots, despite becoming huge metalcore giants almost overnight. Overall, the album is brilliant, but the second half really shines through.



Strongest Tracks:
Road Sick, Dead Set On Living, Old Blood, Drunken Physics
Weakest Tracks:
The Void

4.5 VsI N C R E D I B L E

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