The mighty Cancer Bats stormed Toronto’s Phoenix Concert Hall on Sherbourne Street this Thursday, giving fans a taste of their fifth studio album, SEARCHING FOR ZERO. They were supported by some of the best metal and hardcore bands in Southern Ontario, the night being unofficially dubbed ‘locals only.’ Bats’ vocalist Liam Cormier admitted he would have loved to put on more acts from the deep pool of talent we have here in the greater Toronto area. But how can anyone be unhappy with Kitchener-Waterloo’s Exalt, Hamilton’s Dead Tired and Barrie/Alcona’s Indian Handcrafts opening the bill?
Hardcore metal act Exalt opened the night with a wicked set. Their dynamic metalcore style with hints of doom got the audience pumped for the show and impressed new listeners. Be sure to catch them opening for the Cancer Bats on tour.
As a fan of Alexisonfire, I loved that George Pettit’s new project Dead Tired was on the bill. Their fast-paced, hardcore punk style has a similar diversity to the Bats, appealing to punks and metal heads alike. It was exciting to see the guy who pretty much turned us onto the Bats kill it as an opener. Even with the Cancer Bats blowing up all over the world, they are still true to the relationships that helped them get this far.
Outside of Toronto there are tons of amazing bands to see, but a lot of them never really breach the borders of the city. That’s why I was stoked that Indian Handcrafts were second from the top. Far from their first time playing with the Bats, they seem to move up a spot on the roster with every passing year. Don’t be surprised if you see their names popping up higher and higher on festival lineups. If you have never seen them before, do yourself a favour and check them out. The recordings don’t hold a candle to their epic live performance, but they are still worth hearing. Picture heavy, sludgy blues-metal with a hint of psychedelia. And did I mention they are a two-piece? This ain’t no White Stripes; more like red flannel, hacked up with an axe.
So there was also this really awesome group that closed the night and they were called CANCER BATS! They revved us up with the rager “Satellites,” the opening track of SEARCHING FOR ZERO. Liam wasted no time in getting the crowd into it, demanding they shout back the ‘Woah!’ parts and moshing around the stage from the first note. They followed with everybody’s favorite “Hail Destroyer” from the 2008 release. For us old dogs they ripped the first song ever performed by the Bats, “Shillelagh,” from 2006’s BIRTHING THE GIANT. As always the Cancer Bats delivered a killer set with a good sampling from all their records. New tunes such as the raw and quick “Devils Blood” and head-banger “Beezlebub” gave us a sample of the new record, which holds true to our beloved Cancer Bats sound. Wade leant a hand with vocals on “Deathsmarch,” snatching the mic from Liam (much to his surprise). After the tune he apologized for thinking Wade was another rowdy stage diver. They closed the set with “True Zero” from the album SEARCHING FOR ZERO. Half of the unwitting audience cleared out before the encore performance, which included their Beastie Boys cover, “Sabotage” and another old school pleaser “French Immersion.”
The sold-out show was hosted by former Alexisonfire guitarist, Wade McNeil (currently of Gallows), and was backed by CFNY102.1 (the Edge).
Written by Jarod Semple
Photography by Sarah Semple