Cancer Bats @ KoKo, Camden

With Empress, Brutality Will Prevail and Turbowolf
15th March 2013
Review by by Soozi Q
Photography by Luke Osbourne

Cancer Bats grace the stage of Camden Town’s KOKO for what frontman Liam Cormier describes as “the biggest show of our lives”, accompanied by Empress, Brutality Will Prevail and, just for the London show of this 15- date tour, Turbowolf.

First band on tonight are Empress who perform their brand of progressive metal faultlessly!
Ollie’s vocals teamed with his and Tom’s atmospheric, reverb- heavy guitar riffs are absorbed into your very core whilst Alex’s irregular bassline diversifies their overall sound. However, there is something about their energy that comes across a little lacklustre and almost forced.
In complete contrast in terms of energy, Brutality Will Prevail catapult themselves onto the stage next.

New frontman Louis wastes no time in getting intimate with the audience as he hops down into the photographers’ pit and launches himself onto the crowd. Throughout their performance he appears to find it difficult to remain onstage for the duration of a whole song as he’s either falling into or surfing on the audience, sharing his mic with whoever will take it, or swiping unsuspecting fans’ hats. It’s evident why they have an ever- growing fanbase; they’ve taken their genre and laced it with an almost doom-esque sludgy-ness, something that makes them stand out from the rest.

Louis proves to be a worthy replacement for Ajay as his relentlessly powerful vocals do not falter at any point. Towards the end of their set I’m growing tiresome of them though, there isn’t enough diversity in their music to hold my interest and the flailing about from Louis and co is no longer entertaining.

The amount of praise Turbowolf have received since their debut album in 2011 is completely justified tonight, but not in a conventional manner. Charismatic frontman Chris Georgaidis’ gravelly, piercing vocals should be irritating but they’re not.
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His cheesy jokes should make you cringe but instead you find yourself even more drawn to him. The sloppiness of their performance only adds to the endearment. It’s so confusing yet immensely enjoyable! Opening track ‘Ancient Snake’ is ridiculously catchy. Hell, everything they perform tonight has the crowd frivolously throwing themselves about as if they’ve never had a reason to dance so much.

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The list of musical styles they pull together is endless; punk, psychedelic/ electronic rock, metal, pop, garage… it’s a mess but it works. Newest addition to the line- up, Lianna Lee Davies on bass fits in perfectly with her upbeat and lively stage presence and she nails the sporadic riffs.

We are treated to new track ‘American Mirrors’ which stirs up the crowd into a moshpit and leaves me feeling dazzled due to the way it morphs from an all- out punk-tastic number into something altogether more experimental with its offbeat time signatures and psychedelic- electronic elements.

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Closing with ‘Let’s Die’ is a superb choice; it’s dirty, packed with attitude, so much fun and leaves you desperate for more. Long live Turbowolf!

The most endearing thing about Cancer Bats, frontman Liam Cormier in particular, is how appreciative they are of their loyal fans. Their well-constructed and exuberantly performed set perfectly proves why they deserve such loyal fans too!
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They keep everyone happy by performing a great selection of tracks spanning across their back catalogue, creating a set that reflects the evolution of their sound; from the disgruntled temperament of ‘Pneumonia Hawk’ to the more anarchic ferocity of ‘Pray For Darkness’. Scott Middleton’s persistent windmilling whilst thrashing away on his guitar and furiously bending notes, remaining tight throughout is a sight/ sound to behold.

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Liam clearly has huge lungs because the amount he runs about the stage like a prisoner getting re-accustomed to open space whilst screeching down his mic with such unforgiving strength.

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These guys are performing machines! Once they launch into their cover of Beastie Boys’ ‘Sabotage’ towards the end of their set, the already crazed audience erupts once again; I can’t imagine many bands doing this classic song justice, but Cancer Bats certainly do. Other highlights include ‘Sorceress’, ‘Old Blood’ and the number they chose to finish on, ‘R.A.T.S’.
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This Canadian foursome pours the entirety of their enthusiasm and passion into their live performance and their fans give just as much back.

Setlist:
Bricks & Mortar
Trust No One
Pneumonia Hawk
Lucifer’s Rocking Chair
Sleep This Away
Sorceress
Road Sick
Smiling Politely
Shillelagh
Old Blood
Black Metal Bicycle
Darkness Lives
Sonic Mind Assault
Deathsmarch
Scared to Death
Pray for Darkness
Drunken Physics
Sabotage
(Beastie Boys cover)
Hail Destroyer
R.A.T.S.

 

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