What separates Cancer Bats from their contemporaries is that most of their yesteryear contemporaries have either fallen off, sold out or simply lose their edge. At the end of the day all three of the majority of cases all stagnate back to the same singular career point: the band’s relevance is kept afloat by a nostalgic fan base that only really remembers their seminal work.
“Searching For Zero” is the anomaly in this trend, where an artistic change of direction towards the experimental actually exceeds established gimmicky expectations and even raises standard for the band is capable of.
What makes Searching For Zero’s palette particularly savoury one, is the new emphasis on hitting a particular real sweet spot within their sound, which somehow marries Cancer Bats’ southern approach to metal & hardcore to Zeppelin/Sabbath era rock via catchy riffage.
True Zero heads in the right direction by taking a step back with a slightly altered approach, considering just what it takes to make a song sound heavier than all of the Gods of Olympus descending wrath combined. The band takes the volume down from 11 and replaces it with killer tension and songwriting sonically familiar to Alice in Chains’ “Dirt”. Where “Dirt” had mainly clean vocals yet was still able to deliver such a badass and rage-fueled result, True Zero hits the same wonderful beats, giving it that anger and desperation and then extravagantly polishes it of with Cormie’s infinitely unsatisfied vocals.
True Zero, Arsenic In The Year Of The Snake Beelzebub, Devil’s Blood, Cursed With a Conscience are all representative examples of this, and really manage to sell the listeners with Liam Cormie’s sleazy grandiose rock approach to vocals. His gusto really brings the album to a larger than life-life, which makes you completely forget you were probably excepting “Searching For Zero” to be even more heavy than 2012’s Dead Set On Living. There are more emotions than rage and fear to bind an audience into comradely servitude and “Cursed With A Conscience” is proof of that. The band takes the slow ominous desperation found on “Lucifer’s Rocking Chair” and adds a much welcomed and inescapable mob mentality. That isn’t to say that Searching For Zero has been completely defanged and decelerated. My personal favourite is All Hail, a trash metal whirlwind clocking in at 1:27, which not only juxtaposes the majority of this album but is also homage to the late Dave Brokie (of Gwar) a la choruses of “All Hail Oderus”. The other head banging classic track is “No More Bullshit”, assures the guarantee neck snapping head banging, just to keep the status quo.
The track which stands out is mostly because it is the most normal and conventional pop punk track, with (gasp!) clean vocals, which still makes for a great track to party to, but is a bit out of step between the aforementioned head bangers, and the sultry rock ballads such as Beelzebub and True Zero.
Ultimately Searching For Zero’s most valuable asset isn’t a single track, but the crisp production and raw energy, which will draw you in and raise your domestic-listening energy levels to match your concert attending energy levels (and not many records are capable of that). This album is a perfect blend of chaotic metal musicianship that has put Cancer Bats within the same respect categories such as Every Time I Die and Converge, but doesn’t really intend to bank all of its potential appeal on it as much as they have in past releases. The theatrical transition into catchy, yet progressive and fluid southern rock territory really does Searching For Zero favours and it is understandable why it took so long to write this album. If you still doubting the validly of the previous statement go listen to “Dusted” and then come back to read it again.