Cancer Bats Keep Spreading Their Wings on 'Psychic Jailbreak'

Cancer Bats Keep Spreading Their Wings on 'Psychic Jailbreak'
Cancer Bats have been an institution in Canadian hardcore for their 18-year existence. Through their punk beginnings on Birthing the Giant and Hail Destroyer to the more sludge/stoner metal peak on Dead Set on Living, Cancer Bats have had found success during multiple iterations of their sound. Even on their seventh record, Psychic Jailbreak, Cancer Bats have found way to tinker their sound in a way that showcases further progression — evidence of a band unafraid to embrace something new.

Cancer Bats are a well-oiled machine when it comes to hardcore song construction. All of the songs are built around vocalist Liam Cormier's moments throughout the album. Songs like "Lonely Bong," "Friday Night" and "Crocodiles" all showcase melodic vocal choruses that contrast well against the loud music. This is never more obvious than on the song "Hammering On," which features a melodic vocal duet during the chorus that is unlike anything ever heard from this group. While Liam's voice has changed over the years, and he has opted for a raspier yell than the sharp shriek he had on past albums, the group utilizes some newer approaches to vocal melodies that are a nice surprise in heavy music.

Riffs are somewhat lacking on the record. It would always be difficult to replace what former guitarist Scott Middleton brought to the table, but Cancer Bats do a commendable job trying to fill that void. Riffs on the record range from the straight-ahead hardcore of "Radiate" and "Pressure Mind" to the more stoner rock-infused "Keep On Breathin."

Perhaps the best riff on the record is the galloping march of title track "Psychic Jailbreak"; it gives off classic Cancer Bats vibes and signals that the band still have some of their old swagger.

Psychic Jailbreak is a solid record that features many classic Cancer Bats tropes while also introducing new vocal stylings throughout the record. It is great to see a band try out new things to keep their sound fresh and moving forward. It feels like the beginning of a new chapter for the band, and while it isn't their finest moment to date, one can see room for growth going forward. Cancer Bats are nowhere near done with their musical legacy. (Bat Skull/New Damage)