While She Sleeps & Cancer Bats @ The Ritz
The doors of The Ritz open to a mesh of sweaty bodies, it’s stench slapping you in the face, its temperature like a furnace. Canadian wrecking crew Cancer Bats are striding onto stage to a rapturous cheer which erupts from the volcanic crowd. The first of two headline performances tonight, they hit the ground running. A tour which sees two rapidly rising acts join forces to further accelerate their ascent, it’s a showcase for the future of heavy music in many ways. They’ve pulled in a predominantly youthful crowd – screaming, fresh faced teenagers aplenty – and you can’t help but admire the way their music is providing an introduction to this kind of ear battering for so many.
Right off the bat, Cancer Bats are simply infectious. It takes little imagination to realise just why this band is admired as much as they are. With a reputation for a racious live show preceeding them, their set it a sledgehammer with a smiley face sharpied onto it: It’s heavy, destructive but light-hearted and fun.
Every song is underpinned with a beautifully nasty groove, Lucifer’s Rocking Chair a rollicking way to get the crowd moving and heads banging. Liam Cormier throws himself about the stage with abandon, often getting up in the front row’s faces, such as on an emphatic Scared To Death. By the time their punchdrunk rendition of The Beastie Boy’s Sabotage rears its ugly head, you’re already thoroughly swept away with it all. So much energy, unbridled passion and unarguably funner than a fun thing’s birthday party, if Cancer Bats are the future of heavy music then I’m all down for that.
The break between the sets sees much of the energy that sizzled during Cancer Bats’ performance fade away by the time Sheffield’s noise mongerers While She Sleeps walk confidently onto stage. The problem is, it never quite builds back up to the dizzying frenzy that had gone on before them. Simply, they play under Cancer Bats’ towering shadow.
Having witnessed the band turn The Ritz into a whirlpool of bodies while supporting In Flames last year, MR was hoping for more of the same but some of that previously seen magic isn’t here. Too many songs open with a breakdown, where Lawrence Taylor had once looked untouchable, he now looked arrogant and, alongside a poor mix, it sucked the warmth from their set. When they encouraged the crowd to bounce to their rapid-fire drum work, it all comes across a little too clichéd, like they’re trying to hard. Comparatively, Cancer Bats had looked effortless.
Trophies of Violence gives a snapshot of where the band are today, with the song plucked from this year’s Brainwashed album. But there’s nothing new or invigorating about it to suggest that the band are growing, expanding and preparing to carry the torch for metal music for years to come.
Maybe it was an off night for them, but they came off stage to a room that was slowly emptying for the last half hour of their set. There was no doubting who came across the most memorable of the two bands tonight.
Words: Phil Weller | Photos: Phil Goddard