Cancer Bats Club 919, Victoria BC, September 30

Cancer Bats Club 919, Victoria BC, September 30
Photo: Jason Schreurs
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It was a bold and highly questionable move for Cancer Bats to do a cross-Canada tour including their Bat Sabbath incarnation the same year that the real Black Sabbath did their own Canadian run. But more on that a bit later.

Cancer Bats are well known as an impressive live band and they knew how to handle the smallish Club 919 stage through their hour-long set. Playing songs from all four of their full-length albums, vocalist Liam Cormier explained that after their set we'd all take a short "smoke break" and they'd come back at Bat Sabbath.

Suffering from a horrible vocal sound, Cormier's piercing scream became more and more intolerable as the band's set went on, which will further be referred to as the Alexisonfire/Billy Talent vocal virus (some dude just screaming away while a very competent band do their best to hold everything together). Bats guitarist Scott Middleton quickly became the star of the show, channeling his best Dimebag and absolutely nailing songs like "Pneumonia Hawk," "Scared To Death," and "Hail Destroyer," which closed the first set. A late-set cover of Beastie Boys' "Sabotage," although a crowd pleaser, was almost as unfortunate as the recorded version.

The band came back after a break with their Bat Sabbath game faces on and busted into "Paranoid," but a good portion of the crowd hung back, halfway between the stage and the exits, just in case things went bad. Bassist Jaye Schwarzer and drummer Mike Peters quickly locked into their best Geezer/Ward groove for "Children of the Grave," Middleton now channelling his inner Iommi and even managing to put his own unique stamp on the legendary Sabbath material.

Unfortunately, Cormier and his odd vocal style took over again, this time he yarled in a pained growl that almost killed the songs dead. Cormier's unbridled enthusiasm for the Sabbath classics didn't make up for the fact that he can't hit any of the notes that Ozzy can. Like the band's recent Black Sabbath covers EP, we knew the idea was to do Cancer Bats versions of some of heavy metal's all-time classic songs, but Ozzy's fucking 64 years old, dude. At least bring the vocals up to the same level as a senior citizen.