Is it even worth reviewing a Cancer Bats record? I mean, when was the last time this band didn’t release an LP that was packed to the brim with raging tunes? You’re right. It is a trick question. They’ve never released an album that wasn’t a cracker.
“Searching for Zero” is noteworthy though, not just because of the abundance of puns around searching available to lazy and uninspired reviewers, but it sees the band temper their trademark aggression and groove with some tasteful left field influences. Maybe this is the sign of Cancer Bats pushing their own creative boundaries or maybe its the sonic stamp of producer Ross Robinson. It doesn’t really matter, the results are all that matters.
The live and raw production approach plays to the band’s strength, as well as shining a flattering spotlight and those newer influences. “Beelzebub” sounds more like a Black Sabbath b-side than any of the actual Black Sabbath songs that Cancer Bats have been known to cover in the past and “Satellites” has much more in common with the 90’s left-field of hardcore than it does the ferocious metalcore that Cancer Bats are often unfairly associated with.
The immediacy of past Cancer Bats releases isn’t always present here. “Cursed with a Conscience” for example, is an off kilter and howling exploration of a dirty mid-tempo stomp which takes a few listens to really get to grips with. The band should surely be applauded for pushing the boundaries of their sound, but there’s a chance a few tracks here will count as misfires for long-term fans.
That said, if after listening to this album you miss “old” Cancer Bats it turns out they have another four albums that you can listen to instead. If you don’t like the party no one hold it against you if you don’t stay, but don’t ruin it for everyone else. Ignoring this advice is what makes YouTube the worst party ever.
“Searching for Zero” manages to admirably straddle a divide between accessibility and experimentation. There’s hooks here, but they’re hidden beneath spacey delays, filthy distortion and brooding grooves. Cancer Bats have gone all subtle on us, the likes of “Dust” sounding like Deftones if they spent more time listening to Black Flag than Depeche Mode.
This album might not be Cancer Bats best, that title still belongs to “Hail Destroyer” (’cause the old stuff is always better. Right internet?), but it’s certainly their most interesting record sonically. Towards the end it does feel as if a few of their new tricks have out stayed their welcome but when this album as its best its a pretty impressive piece of work that certainly deserves your time. And your mosh.