Cancer Bats -
Cambridge Barfly, 16th may

Hardcore - and it's many variants - seems to be reaching new heights of popularity at the moment, from the huge commercial success of hardcore punks Gallows, to the critical acclaim of Dillinger Escape Plan's recent album "Ire Works". While many "hardcore" bands seem to be forgetting their roots and veering off into commercial screamo territory, it's reassuring to see these bands making a name for themselves. Probably the most exciting band to come out of this scene recently is Cancer Bats, a four-piece Canadian outfit boasting influences from Led Zeppelin to Black Flag.

While wearing their punk credentials on their sleeve, the musicianship in this band is truly staggering: throughout the set, the band remained tight as hell, at times making it difficult to tell whether we were listening to a CD. Opening with the title track of their new album "Hail Destroyer" got the somewhat lazy crowd off their arses, with Liam jumping into the crowd and getting kids to scream down the mic. The raw, brutal nature of their songs translated perfectly to the tiny venue, and brought out an up-front, visceral quality that many other bands would find hard to match.

Probably the best song of the evening was "Sorceress": a brutal, punked-up slice of thrash, with Scott Middleton's squealing guitar providing the perfect backing for the kids to go mental. The sheer quality that Cancer Bats have reached, from getting every song note perfect, to the copious amounts of energy they put into their show really set them apart as a band to whom their music is everything. It's a shame that the crowd weren't as into it as the band themselves were however, but that never once stopped them from putting on an incendiary performance.