This Cancer Bats article was written by Caitlin Damsell, a GIGsoup contributor

2015 was a big year for Cancer Bats. With the release of their fifth studio album, Searching for Zero – Canada’s finest hardcore band set out to dominate the UK through their diabolical headline tour with British metalcore favourites While She Sleeps. The release and tour was well received, as this was both bands’ proper comeback after three years.

Fast forward to 2016 – and the Bats are back once again with a vengeance, this time setting out on their own UK headline tour. Much had changed since the last time they headlined Exeter Phoenix, back in 2013 – and this was very clear in how the gig played out.

With four bands on the bill, American metallers INCITE were first to open. Faced with a sparse crowd this early on in the evening, the group definitely played to the best of their ability – with frontman Richie Cavalera energetically swinging his lengthy hair all over the place.

Being the only UK group on the bill, Palm Reader know how to take on their audience. The Nottingham-based band are no strangers to certain members of the crowd tonight – playing various shows in Devon within the past year. Their presence was definitely explosive, and it was interesting to see them fit so well into the line-up, being the youngest out of all 4.

9pm – and the audience start to fill out a bit, with more people coming in just in time for the main show. The crowd still show little signs of movement, however main support Lord Dying definitely start to warm up the room with their heavy metal grooves. Despite being only a trio, this definitely doesn’t affect their sound – with many intricate riffs and destructive choruses.

Cancer Bats take to the stage just before 10 – exploding into the riffs of True Zero and instantly livening up the room. It takes a few tracks for the crowd to completely unleash havoc, but once they do, almost everyone in the room is moving – with frontman Liam Cormier remarking on how everyone was ‘crazier than last time we were here!’ (…and it was). Blasting through a 19-track setlist, with tunes new and old, they definitely managed to please all. As their first own UK headline tour since the release of their new album, Cancer Bats had much more flexibility as to what to play – with the Searching For Zero material having a very positive reaction.

Pausing the set halfway through, Liam took a moment to tell the audience about his latest personal challenge – explaining he was shaving his head in aid of The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation. Known for his perfect head-banging, long hair – this clearly meant a lot to both him and the fans, who all went and contributed to ‘the boot’ he carried around after the show for donations. Nearing the end, the set finished with a combination of their iconic Beastie Boys cover Sabotage and first single of 2015, Satellites. Needing no encore, the Bats had clearly left everyone satisfied and very sweaty – singing until the very last note.

Cancer Bats - Exeter Phoenix (15th January 2016) - LIVE REVIEW
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