Review: Cancer Bats – The Spark That Moves

It has been far too long since we heard new music from Cancer Bats. Three years to be exact. While we were given a run of Bat Sabbath shows last summer and with plans to celebrate 10 years ‘Hail Destroyer’ very soon, you’d think the Canadian hardcore punks were taking it easy and celebrating their past. Oh, how so wrong we were!

Recorded during the cold Canadian winter, Cancer Bats are back with full of intent. Album #6 comes in the form of ‘The Spark That Moves’ and sees the quartet skipping the usual industry formalities and putting it out in the open.

As always, there is an relentless energy to Cancer Bats’ sound as they supply sludge-drenched riffs with Liam Cormier’s familiar growl. ‘Brightest Day’ and ‘We Run Free’ are early blasts of adrenaline with guitarist Scott Middleton’s signature squeals and bassist Jaye Schwarzer supplying a thick bounce. Throughout both Schwarzer and drummer Mike Peters keep the momentum going at breakneck speed with Cormier’s vocals and Middleton’s riffs simply adding to the raw, frantic tone.

On the surface, ‘The Spark That Moves’ is a melting pot of everything Cancer Bats do well. ‘Space and Time’ and ‘Headwound’ are equally chaotic. ‘Bed of Nails’ highlights Cancer Bats’ anthemic quality, as Cormier’s defiantly states “Never going to quit” against a backdrop of chugging guitars. While ‘Fear Will Kill Us All’ is a thrash onslaught before ‘Can’t Sleep’ brings a rigid slice of hardcore punk to proceedings.

It all comes to ahead with ‘Winterpeg’, an ode to the city of Winnipeg, their adopted home as they recorded ‘The Spark That Moves’. It’s a three-minute stomp with Chris Hannah of local punk heroes Propagandhi adding to the defiant cry of “no surrender!”

While Cancer Bats may have caught everyone off guard with this surprise release, they’ve stylistically stuck to the ferocious, riff-filled crunch that they’re known for. It’s a welcomed return for the Canadian crew.


‘The Spark That Moves’ by Cancer Bats is out now on Bat Skull Records.

Cancer Bats links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)


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