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Cancer Bats gear up for Alberta tour

Posted on March 9, 2023 by Taber Times

By Erika Mathieu

Taber Times

Canada’s iconic hardcore-sludge metal band, Cancer Bats, are returning to Alberta for a six show tour this March.

Cancer Bats have garnered their fifth JUNO Award nomination for their seventh studio album Psychic Jailbreak in the Metal/Hard Music Album of the Year category.

The album was released to critical acclaim in April 2022, and is the band’s first album written and recorded since the departure of founding member Scott Middleton in 2021. Now the hardcore Toronto trio are headed west to perform in both Medicine Hat and Lethbridge in the week leading up to the 2023 JUNO Awards on March 13. 

Lead singer, Liam Cormier, said, “Playing shows in Alberta is like the most unique, rowdy, and wild experience that we’ve been lucky enough to be doing for the last 15 years. When we first started coming out to Alberta we had no idea. We were showing up to play these shows in Alberta and they were two or three times as big as anything we had seen, like there’s so many bands, there’s so much like happening.”

As many Canadian concert-goers can attest to, there are a lot of tours which only ever make it to two or three Canadian cities; usually Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver.

“We grew up in southern Ontario so we were lucky to be able to go to Toronto shows. You realize there are a lot of bands that don’t really understand that there’s a much bigger country to check out.” 

Psychic Jailbreak is pleasantly on-par with previous Cancer Bats records in terms of the fullness of their sound. Cormier pointed out that the current members, himself, Mike Peters, and Jaye R. Schwarzer, have been writing and performing together for well over a decade.

“It’s always been a collaborative process,” said Cormier, noting Schwarzer has always played a key role in writing and playing guitar for the group, and said some people are now hearing it for the first time.

Several tracks on Psychic Jailbreak explore ideas related to chaos, destruction, and the confines of society. 

“I think there’s a lot of things that I look to in terms of existing within chaos, whether it’s our minds or the world that we’re living in, and finding that peace despite everything being turbulent,” Cormier said adding, “the heavy music community is a good place for that.” 

Several tracks including “The Hoof”, and protest anthem, “Friday Night” allude to the emancipatory potential of deconstructing dominant systems or institutions in society to build something new and better in its place.

“It’s also (a matter of) embracing that destruction,” Cormier continued, “I think sometimes we tend to be scared to shake things up, and this album is like proof it can be good to change things up, and shift the dynamic. (In doing so,) something new comes to light. It changes us for the better, and can push us to do different things.”

Speaking of breaking convention, the album was written and recorded in a post-COVID landscape and an era of great uncertainty and upheaval. The work includes several lyrical references to a greater cosmic existence, interconnectedness, and the linearity of time. The title track instructs the listener to, “reject the fallacy of time”, and “smash the hourglass.”

“I think there’s a lot of stuff that has happened over the past few years where people are starting to maybe just question the norm a little bit more.” 

Cormier also noted how the rise in short-form digital content found on TikTok and Instagram, and popular culture has increasingly played a role in providing access and proximity to ideas about the universe and physics which were previously considered niche and noted how in recent years, people seem to be more open to discussing diverse conceptions of physics and the universe.

“I feel like Cancer Bats has always been (a conduit for) these ideas, and I feel like this album was just kind of exploring that more. I think we interact with all of our fans and like have these great conversations with people and have realized more people are up for (talking about) it,” said Cormier. 

According to Cormier, Cancer Bats are, “really excited,” about the upcoming show dates in Alberta.

“It’s just such a special thing to come back to.”

Cancer Bats will be playing the Slice in Lethbridge on March 7 and the Mainliner Pub in Medicine Hat March 8 with Trench opening the show. Psychic Jailbreak can be streamed or purchased online and at select retailers or at https://www.cancerbats.com/music.

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