Cancer Bats
Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones



by Acre USER (33 Reviews)
August 7th, 2010 | 15 replies

Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A decent attempt to branch out is somewhat marred by an excess of filler.

Let’s face it: you don’t go into a new Cancer Bats album expecting a tour-de-force, groundbreaking collection of songs. That’s never been the intent of the Canadian hardcore outfit. You listen to a new Cancer Bats album so you know the songs for the live show, and can at least shout along with vocalist Liam Cormier. The live show has always been the area of appeal for Cancer Bats; take it away, and you’ve basically got a competent band producing southern-tinted hardcore music. Nevertheless, I found a lot to really like about the band’s last release, Hail Destroyer. It was far from revolutionary, but it was a fun bunch of tracks to headbang to, and at the end of the day, that’s all that you can ask from a Cancer Bats album.

With their third album, the excellently titled Bears, Mayors, Scraps, and Bones, Cancer Bats have decided to shake things up... kinda sorta. Bears is a decidedly sludgier affair than either of their previous efforts, a trend noticeable from the very first track. The second the lumbering riff for “Sleep This Away” enters, it’s clear that this isn’t quite the same band who recorded Hail Destroyer. There isn’t any track quite as upbeat as “100 Grand Canyon” here; instead, it’s a lot of drop-C pummeling. On one hand, it’s clearly the thing the band is good at, and they prove it with a number of killer tunes. On the other, that lack of variety frequently makes Bears a very homogenous affair, and also one riddled with inconsistency.

The biggest problem with the album is the amount of filler that’s leaked through the cracks. With the exception of “Sleep This Away”, the first six tracks are basically non-starters. The problem with these tracks is their construction seems arbitrary, as if “Verse Riff A” was just combined with “Chorus Riff B” with no regard for how the two complemented each other. Songs move from section to section without any sense for the internal logic that allows these sections to live in harmony. Similarly, these tracks also lack some standout quality to differentiate them from the pack. First single “Dead Wrong” features a pretty good verse, but all momentum is shattered by its bland chorus. And “Doomend To Fail” is probably the most boring song the band has ever composed. Seriously, it goes absolutely nowhere, flailing away at a mid-tempo without a compelling riff to its name, and sporting awful lyrics like “Cause it’s not the destination, it’s the trip... man”. The album does eventually regain its direction, however, with “Scared To Death”. Potentially the best song of the bunch, its riffs are instantly memorable, and the whole thing is strangely catchy in a fist-to-the-face kind of way.

“Scared To Death” also marks the start of a dramatic upgrade in quality from the first half; the second half of Bears is clearly the superior half, with great tracks like “Snake Mountain”, which executes on the ideas of “Sorceress” in actually compelling ways, and “Fake Gold”, which features the album’s single greatest riff (seriously, it’s almost Meshuggah-esque), backed up by excellent contributions from the rhythm section. Actually, it’s worth mentioning the dramatic improvements of the rhythm section here; Cancer Bats have never recorded with a bassist before, and the contributions of Jay Schwarzer are surprisingly pronounced here. Similarly, drummer Mike Peters has embraced the fact that he can actually play the drums really well, and has broken from the tedium of his previous performances to deliver a surprising amount of versatility behind the kit. Add on a really excellent run of four songs to end the album (including a pretty good cover of “Sabotage” by The Beastie Boys), and you’ve got yourself a pretty decent album.

In the end, Bears, Mayors, Scrapes, and Bones simultaneously contains some of the band’s strongest material and some of their weakest. As an album, it’s a decent attempt at evolving the well-established Cancer Bats sound without really altering anything significant. But, as previously mentioned, if you’re going into a Cancer Bats album without plans to see them live, you’re really kind of missing the point. If by some chance you do plan to see them live within the next six months or so, feel free to bump up that score by .5 or so. Otherwise, it’s more Cancer Bats. Do with that what you will.

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Comments:Add a Comment 
August 7th 2010


Album Rating: 3.0

Worst summary of my career. Regardless, I'm reasonably happy with this review.

EDIT: New summary; old one was making me hemorrhage.

August 7th 2010


i think you somehow hit the nail on the head here, album is too much of a change from my bats, i cant stand the first songs off of this, great review

Digging: Jeff Rosenstock - 2020 DUMP

August 7th 2010


I agree with every single point this review makes. Scared To Death and Fake Gold are amazing

August 9th 2010


Album Rating: 3.0

Yay for vindication!

September 1st 2010


Album Rating: 3.5

Curious to see what happens next...

March 12th 2011


Album Rating: 3.0

i enjoyed this more than most it seems. maybe it's cause i don't have any of their other stuff.

August 9th 2011


Album Rating: 3.0

I thought this album was probably worthy of maybe a 3.5 or a 4 when I started listening, however after a few listens I just find some of the tracks to grate on me, hence the 3.

August 9th 2011


Album Rating: 2.5

every comment you make is "i thought about rating something this, but then I gave it this because of this"....

August 10th 2011


Album Rating: 3.0

@ShadowRemains - Nice to know you have nothing better to do with your life than follow my comments. Sad?

November 30th 2011


Album Rating: 2.5


February 13th 2013


Album Rating: 3.0


Contributing Reviewer
March 30th 2013


This is all pretty intense, exciting stuff but my main quip is how fast it seems to go. Half of the songs stay more memorable than others, and interestingly they are the one that appear to have a faster pace to their sound. Cormier's vocals in my opinion seem to have improved since the last couple of releases, and the guitar work, whilst mostly sounding as rough as a chainsaw is well executed. I just think it could have done with a few more songs like 'Dead wrong', but then again I don't think any CB song has surpassed the quality of that yet.

Digging: Self Hypnosis - Contagion of Despair

March 30th 2013


these guys used to be so popular around here

March 30th 2013


Album Rating: 3.5

I still dig a few songs.

Digging: Napalm Death - Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism

April 13th 2013


Album Rating: 2.5

i'm wearing a cancer bats shirt cause none of my other shirts were clean

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