What better way to spend a Saturday evening than in a tiny venue with four bands from varying ends of the metal spectrum? Cancer Bats and co. have definitely set out to create havoc on their Destroy The United Kingdom tour, and they deliver no less.
First band Incite bring the party with their groovy, pulsating metal; there’s not a moment spare when one member of the band isn’t head-banging for all they’re worth. Frontman Richie Cavalera is exactly the kind of frontman a band like this needs at its helm; intimidating yet captivating, he gives the band (who are akin to the likes of Lamb Of God) the edge they need. Their song Rightful Spot featuring Cancer Bats’ Liam Cormier is explosive, while What The Fuck is a highlight.
A lot more hardcore and a lot less groove-metal, Palm Reader are bringing some immense energy to the stage. ‘This song is about money!’ yells frontman Josh Mckeown before launching into the tumultuous and also slightly political Stacks. As the second band of the night, Palm Reader are killing it; a theme is beginning to emerge in that this is an incredibly strong tour. Hurtling through the show, they take some time to slow things down a little with the austere Noble Host. Guttural, grating and pulverising all at the same time, Smack Hound brings things to an abrupt close for Palm Reader tonight in Manchester.
Lord Dying are most definitely about music first, lyrics second- more importantly riffs first. Far more Slayer than Lamb Of God this time, this band are sporting a lot of power. Visceral screams from frontman Erik Olson are indicative of the fact he looks like the kind of guy who is not to be messed with. “Chris Evans, our regular guitarist had to fly home due to a death in the family- so rather than cancelling we got Scott Middleton from Cancer Bats to fill in!” Olson announces, as said Cancer Bats guitarist scrambles from the stage, only to be replaced by Incite’s guitarist. It’s perhaps this team spirit that means this is shaping up to be such a tight tour. Lord Dying’s musical doom-ridden interludes are second to none- proved by the two minutes of riffing during Clearing At The End Of The Path. The drawn out guitar slicks (all 6 minutes 55) of Darkness Remains bring Lord Dying’s set to an eventual close, leaving the audience somewhat reeling but with their head-banging muscles suitably warmed up.
The tiny upstairs venue that is Manchester’s Academy 3 filled up remarkably fast in the short time before Cancer Bats take to the stage. A chant of CANCER BATS, CANCER BATS is taking hold before the lights even go down. To say this show is highly anticipated would be an understatement- here are a band who pack and incredible punch, and are taking to the stage as the bridge between all of the bands before them- not quite fitting into any of their genres. Many concentrated ‘metal faces’ from the rest of the band are contrasted by frontman Liam’s boisterous face, tongue out, bounding around the stage- the usual sound coming from him that just doesn’t match his charm and persona at all.
Ridiculously hyped from the word go, the crowd are feeding off the band’s seemingly never-ending energy. Bricks And Mortar goes off in all its grinding, growling glory, before they launch into Sorcress without so much as a breath. “Manchester, we’ve played this venue a lot of times!” Yells Cormier- “I’m not so sure about this barricade… We didn’t have one last time and no-one got hurt, everyone had a good time!” He adds cheekily, probably much to the delight of security. Similarly, the guitar tech perhaps regrets coming on stage as the frontman pulls his hair out of its tie screaming “Nobody has a ponytail on staaaage!!”
As they rumble through the likes of Pneumonia Hawk and R.A.T.S the unrelenting head-banging leaves little room for vocals at all, yet somehow the deliverance of these pulverising numbers is still second to none- gut wrenching screams, followed by the biggest happy smile ever; it’s the contrasts that are making this show interesting. Hail Destroyer takes things onto another level, whilst Smiling Politely launches its assault and shreds the Academy into oblivion. Road Sick is punky and razor-sharp, contrasting with its follow up, the rolling, gravelly Beezlebub which allows for a full crowd-strong sing along. “Are you cool? Is everybody cool before we go on?” Asks Cormier, checking in with his audience before the band pummel them with another devil-based song, the dirty, snarling Lucifer’s Rocking Chair. Cancer Bats are ‘letting the hadrons collide’ in a super quick, hardcore science lesson before their highly anticipated cover of Beastie Boys’ Sabotage. A punchy, bass-y blast through this cover, complete with Liam Cormier’s swish robot dance moves, lands the band at the end of their set with Satellites; a triumphant end to an unrelenting set.
Throughout a Cancer Bats show, one thing becomes clear, and it is this. The band behind Liam Cormier are so full of power and packing punches- exactly the kind of thing any band like this needs. However, the pure energy coupled with the boyish charm of their frontman gives them the spark that makes them not quite like any other band in their scene. It is for this reason that Cancer Bats seem to have got their formula for success down to a tee.
Note: At the end of their tour (which has now moved overseas to take on Europe), Liam Cormier will be shaving his head in aid of The Princess Margret Cancer Foundation. His campaign ‘Give Cancer The Boot’ allows people to donate money in a welly-boot at any of their shows, along with people also being able to donate online, through this link.
Photographs by Erin Moore at Forte Photography