Die Shellsuit, Die!

An Alternative Music Magazine

Barfly, Birmingham - 13.05.2008

Cancer Bats

I recently described the Hassle Volume 1 compilation as the sound of the Radio 1 Rock show.

Unsurprising really, as the show’s presenter, Dan Carter, compiled it. A bit more surprising is that his new band, Hexes, could also be described in the same way. There’s some Refused-esque samples under a mix of hardcore, punk and straightforward ‘rawk’, with Dan switching between a gruff croon and hardcore yelp over the top. At this point in time, it seems like it might be a bit of nepotism that got them on the tour, with some of the tunes lacking a bit of power and Dan seeming quite uneasy at addressing the crowd between songs, but how else are you going to get an opening band.

Olly Mitchell of Johnny Truant has no such problems being frontman, ably egging the growing crowd on and playfully berating members of Beat Union who dare to heckle. But despite a few die-hard fans, it doesn’t seem to be enough to get everyone involved, and the crushing tech-metal breakdowns of ‘A Day In The Death’ and new tune ‘Widower’ only manage to inspire pits lasting about five seconds at a time. It makes no difference to the band though. As Olly points out, “Making sure you guys are moving isn’t our job. We’ll do what we do up here, you do your thing down there”, so they just keep going, closing with a massive version of ‘The Bloodening’ to a thankfully more energetic reception, and showing that they’re still one of the UK’s best and heaviest bands.

In contrast, crowd participation does seem to be an aspiration for Liam Cormier, as the Cancer Bats frontman takes the opportunity afforded by the typically sparse Birmingham turnout to leave the stage during (Obvious) set opener ‘Hail Destroyer’ and spend the rest of the night in the middle of the crowd. Once there he bounces around, grabs fans and is grabbed for gang vocal backups, and generally does what the rest of us huddled masses are doing and enjoys himself. Consequently, not much attention is paid to the rest of the band, but they put in a sterling performance, keeping the momentum going early on with ‘French Immersion’ & ‘Golden Tanks’ (I’m working on a theory about unconnected 2 word song titles making for awesome tunes), allowing people to throw themselves about to tunes they already know and love. Tunes from the new album are thrown in, such as the slow headbang of ‘Lucifer’s Rocking Chair’, but it’s the ones that follow the tried and tested formula of piling big hardcore riffs on top of a rock’n’roll vibe that really grab you, like ‘Sorceress’, with some unknown lady from Liam’s past suffering a vicious (Though possibly justified) lyrical attack, and two separate headbanging sections for everyone to let go in. As ‘Pneumonia Hawk’ closes the night in a suitably raging fashion, everyone staggers off with a big grin on their face, knowing that more people should have been there, but thankful that they weren’t.

Listen: www.myspace.com/cancerbats, www.myspace.com/johnnytruant, www.myspace.com/hexes