I am not a musician. As such, it is not often that I can point at an album and say with full confidence, “this album has no idea what the heck it’s doing”. I would like to thank the Cancer Bats‘, Searching The Zero, for giving me that opportunity, and also to take the chance to ask you, the reader, to imagine me pointing across the room and saying the aforementioned phrase in a voice that is confident but still a little bewildered.

It’s not unusual for a band’s sound to shift and change, throughout the course of their career. In fact, we generally regard it as a good thing. Cancer Bats have definitely done this. Their sound has evolved from ratty, punchy hardcore, to more melodic metal leanings on this latest album. The band credits this new sound to their producer, Ross Robinson (responsible to everything from Sepultura to The Cure) and their recent forays into moonlighting as a Black Sabbath cover band. (Called Bat Sabbath, thus winning the cover band name contest.)

Not to discredit their musical proficiency, but maybe they should have stuck with the punchy hardcore? Because this album is all over the place. It bounces from songs like ‘True Zero’, which sounds like a weird mid-80s heavy rock number; to ‘Beelzebub’, which is some sort of bizarre experiment that borders dangerously close to being weird psychedelic rock; to ‘All Hail’, which is a one minute, thirty second punch in the guts, and simultaneously the best and most out of place song on the album.

This album is moody and dark in a way that ultimately amounts to a jumble of sound and melancholy signifying very little except perhaps an overindulgence in Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.

Alex Johnson

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