Since I first heard Hail Destroyer in high school I’ve loved Cancer Bats, and through my metal, hardcore and punk phases I’ve always been able to find something by them that I can really get into. For that reason I tend to wait for new material in a state of excitement and curiosity, because I know they’re capable of almost anything and willing to try everything, it’s how they’ve stayed fresh over the past decade. Searching For Zero is no different in the way that it’s completely different and yet still undeniably Cancer Bats.
The party kicks off with Satellites and when its big hook chorus comes by take a moment to stop singing along if you can and appreciate how noticeably better Liam Cormier’s vocals have gotten since the last album, particularly in the cleaner sections. He attributed his new abilities to when Cancer Bats toured as a cover band called Bat Sabbath, but the influence of metal’s fathers hasn’t stopped there. Searching For Zero for the most part seems to be the slowest album the band has made. Big sludgey riffs that are dripping in bass driven songs like Beelzebub, while Buds shows that they obviously learnt a thing or two from some of their touring partners over the past years. If you told me it was a Red Fang song with Liam doing guest vocals, I wouldn’t question it for a second.
It’s not all southern sludge metal though, Cancer Bats are a hardcore band after all and True Zero and Arsenic In TYOTS won’t let you forget that. And if you’re a fan of the full speed tracks that come in under 90 seconds they’ve occasionally done, All Hail keeps the punk origins in hardcore flowing strong, so you’re in luck. Essentially everything you’ve loved in the past about Cancer Bats can be found in Searching For Zero, along with so much more for you to fall in love with. If that’s not the best way for a band to have a progressive style over the past 10 years, I don’t know what is.
At this point in time I don’t think Cancer Bats can make a bad album, they’ve got solid music, amazing lyrics, and they seamlessly blend styles that no one has imagined mixing. Searching For Zero is the epitome of that last point, because I would’ve never thought modern hardcore and classic metal were compatible until I heard this. The Canadian music scene might’ve given birth to Justin Bieber and Nickleback, but Cancer Bats continuously make it too hard to stay mad at them for it, and that alone is downright impressive.