ALBUM REVIEW: Psychic Jailbreak (CANCER BATS)
ALBUM Psychic Jailbreak // ARTIST Cancer Bats
Hardcore makes a gripping getaway in the hands of Canadian punks Cancer Bats on their seventh studio album Psychic Jailbreak. From Southern flavours to bounce and boisterous badassery, we are entirely in solid Bat(s) country on this endeavour - and it is certainly worth stopping by for.
With close to two decades in their wake, Ontario-based heavies Cancer Bats have never been ones to play by the sonic rules, gleefully drawing on essences from sludge, hardcore punk and some spicy Southern rock for good measure, before hurling it through their own unique raucous filter. A band entirely renowned for their voracious live chops as much as their firm fanbase dedication since their inception in the mid-2000s, it would seem that (previously) six albums in, there wouldn't be much that could fluctuate after so many strident years. But enter October 2021, and the news that founding member and lead axe-man Scott Middleton was departing brought multiple questions and expectations for the future of the Cancer Bats legacy.
Album #7 was always going to be something unique following the surrounds of a global pandemic and a lineup change, but somehow Cancer Bats, complete with bassist Jaye Schwarzer jumping in on guitar duties, have proven yet again why their clout is so high after all this time, with their seventh album Psychic Jailbreak busting out blockbuster proportions - and ultimately? It's just pure, unadulterated Cancer Bats.
Leaping straight outta the gates, opening track Radiate pummels and plunders with lashings of bounce, dense down-tuning and riffage that hints at Middleton's tenure while frontman Liam Cormier careens overhead. Next up, Hoof gallops through manic beats and desert haze, with the Bats gents sashaying their way through a pit-ready moment that will undoubtedly and devilishly slay live (and a track that'll certainly tickle the fancy of skate fans across the board).
For anyone who loves when the Bats go Bat Sabbath, Lonely Bong lets loose with some harnessed Southern snarl, complete with splashy percussion, ferocious vocals and riffs that'll sharpen every knife in your house by association. And while the rollicking punk is a dynamic fixture throughout Psychic Jailbreak, it ain't just pumped-up ear candy bustling away on Bats album numero seven; there's plenty of heavier thematics that hit equally as hard as any fiery riff or blasting beat, including a look at empowered advocacy on the caustic Friday Night and shifting division and perception on the menacing groove train that is Crocodiles.
Hammering On hammers in next, boasting a refreshing addition of guest vocalist Brooklyn Doran's Southern-laced vocals doubling Cormier as the track oozes with grimy-yet-precise witchcraft. Shadow Of Mercury pummels in beautifully textbook Bats fashion, before the blues and actual howls bust out and rip a new one via the hellishly fun Keep On Breathin.
Oscillating between introspective melodics and lurching chaos, Pressure Mind offers the ultimate anthem for the ongoing angst and uncertainty in the world; and fittingly, the group also released an accompanying coffee blend for the track recently, which fluctuates equally between smooth and full-bodied like its sonic nameksake. And while Rollin Threes offers a total spotlight moment of sludge, grit and grandiose textures, it's Psychic Jailbreak's title track that truly brings the sludgy punk gods entirely to the forefront, with Cormier's vocals dragging the seafloor clean alongside thick riffs and spitting tones that firmly sprawls this spitfire of an album to an entirely fitting close.
For Cancer Bats, the stakes were indeed high leading into Psychic Jailbreak, with the three remaining founding members tasked with a monumental Everest to not only follow up the critically acclaimed 2018 album The Spark That Moves, but also venture into a new release after nearly 20 years as a band without one of their core elements following Middleton's departure. While Psychic Jailbreak may present as a classic Cancer Bats release, complete with all of the potent and expected hallmarks the group have spent their entire career honing; time and change have somehow emboldened and further ingnited the band's already rock-solid reputation, resulting in an invigorating display of meticulous annihilation, and just enough surprises to remind us that we're in a 2022 phase for this new and assured version of Cancer Bats. Ultimately, Psychic Jailbreak is yet another home run from one of the most exciting bands to grace the modern metal era, and definitely one urgently needing to be witnessed live when the time finally comes. Breaking out never sounded so good.
THE BRAND NEW ALBUM PSYCHIC JAILBREAK FROM CANCER BATS IS OUT THIS FRIDAY APRIL 15 VIA COOKING VINYL AUSTRALIA. FOR MORE INFO, HEAD HERE.
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BY TIANA SPETER