Cancer Bats + While She Sleeps @ The Birmingham Institute – Wednesday 22nd April 2015

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Review by Debbie Gough

Armed with brand-spanking-new albums and the roar of excitement from just about every metal-head in the UK this week, familiar bands of the scene Cancer Bats and While She Sleeps return from hibernating to christen each venue with a night of whirling circle pits, boisterous out of tune chanting and enough crowd surfers to give the poor lass at the barrier concussion for the next week. Kicking off the co-headline tour in Birmingham, Bats and Sleeps give as good as they get to transform the initially peaceful Institute into a thick fog of sweat, flying devil horns and empty cups of chugged beer.

Kicking off the night are Oathbreaker, a doom metal band who succeed in shocking the crowd instantly with their front-woman’s concoction of the most demonic screams you will ever hear from a female not giving birth. While the crowd is stunned by her vocal range and racing drum beats that aren’t quite rhythmical enough to successfully head bang to without looking like you’re having some form of seizure, the band definitely leave a lasting impression on Birmingham as they are the talk of the night.

As the crowd are plunged into silence after discussing whether Oathbreaker’s front girl was actually a girl, Hundreth burst into their set as a few circle pits appear much to the delight of a few ‘hard core dancers’ baring their traditional snapbacks. The band entertain the audience for a fair few tracks before they become a blur of breakdowns and the attention is quickly focused on the security guards who are currently providing a rendition of the Macarena as Hundreth scream their guts out.

Hypnotising the crowd with merely the lowering of their new blood-red backdrop, While She Sleeps command all attention and send every fan into a trance of screaming and jumping; although initially it may sound like it, this is far from a One Direction gig as the security now refrain from their dancing to haul over the bearded blokes over the Institute’s struggling barrier. ‘New World Torture’, a familiar track to Sleeps fans who have the new album, Brainwashed, sends the mass of Brummies into a metal choir while I admittedly try my hardest to guess the lyrics before the madness continues for the next few songs particularly during ‘Seven Hills’ and ‘This Is the Six’.

Just as the crowd are becoming slightly less energetic, While She Sleeps’ film crew shove their lenses into the now animalistic herd of Brummies which reinstates the unity of the night while many put their arms around each other during ‘Our Courage Our Cancer’ (I can’t say I’d like to see the close up of the topless man’s hairy nipple, who appeared to have sweated enough to account for the whole venue, though).

After being off the road for a considerable amount of time, While She Sleeps have definitely regained their status as one of the most recent successful live bands of today’s scene with fans that are unbelievably dedicated. As they wave their goodbyes and make room for the almighty Cancer Bats, there is a sense that we won’t have to wait long for Sleeps to make their return to Birmingham.

Cancer Bats
Cancer Bats

Although many have scattered in the search of sacred water after being over ambitious in the pits during While She Sleeps’ ‘Our Legacy’, the anticipation as Cancer Bats’ frontman, Liam Cormier, jogs onto stage baring a cheeky grin is undeniable. The band rip into ‘Arsenic In The Year Of The Snake’ off their newest album, Searching For Zero, and immediately the crowd is reminded of why Cancer Bats are just about the best bearded Canadians going. Bats give it their all for the entirety of the night while they appear to be running some sort of marathon on stage not forgetting to pause and thank Birmingham for their brilliant vegetarian breakfast services… all hail brummie carrots…

While the steam of sweat rises, so do the devil horns as the band perform their famous cover of The Beastie Boys’ ‘Sabotage’, later followed by a tribute to Birmingham’s own Black Sabbath with a unique cover of ‘War Pigs’. At this point, Birmingham’s metal choir springs back into action and proves to be more in tune than old man Ozzy ever was. Even on stage, Cancer Bats prove themselves to be a humble band and many, including myself, may argue that this is one of the countless reasons for their success as musicians. Before toddling off stage, the bats hug a few brummies in the crowd and promise to return soon no doubt with a whole army of new fans collected from this crazy show.

Setlist:
1. Arsenic In The Year Of The Snake
2. Trust No One
3. Satellites
4. Lucifer’s Rocking Chair
5. Shillelagh
6. Devil’s Blood
7. Sorceress
8. R.A.T.S.
9. Bricks & Mortar
10. Road Sick
11. Scared To Death
12. Beelzebub
13. Sabotage (Beastie Boys cover)
14. All Hail
15. Hail Destroyer
16. True Zero
17. War Pigs (Black Sabbath cover)