Normally if we talk about a band blending hardcore and metal, it’s likely that the term “crossover” will come to mind, and with it, thoughts of bands like Suicidal Tendencies of Power Trip. But there’s more than one way to combine the two genres, with Canavar on their self-titled debut combining moments of Slayer-influenced thrash with hardcore that sits between Sick of it All-style muscle and youth crew melodic sensibilities. It’s a bright, energetic sound, and though it might be a rough around the edges, Canavar is an album that’s a hell of a lot of fun to listen to.
The opening track, ‘Sacrilege’, is the pick of the bunch. At just over a concise two minutes in length, it’s practically the perfect length, opening with melodic hardcore/youth crew energy and optimism, full of darting leads and soaring vocals. It’s the kind of sound that’s perfectly designed for getting you out of bed on bad days, lifting you out of whatever slump you find yourself in.
It would have been fine if Canavar had carried on that way for its 38 minute duration, running through the familiar tropes and sounds of melodic hardcore with the required conviction and talent for the music to succeed. But instead, in the closing moments of ‘Sacrilege’, it shifts into a high-energy thrashing beast, somewhere between the 80’s output of Slayer and Kreator, and modern American heavy metal. It’s an unexpected, yet natural transition; and it’s no one-off. The two styles flow into one another throughout the course of the album, playing to the strengths of each style.
That’s not all there is too Canavar, either. There’s a definite ear for radio-friendly hooks – both musically and in terms of vocals and lyrics – and songs like ‘Moral Compass’ take a more mid-tempo approach that works quite well. It makes for an album that’s very immediate, and very accessible.
Some of the songs don’t quite work as well as intended, though. ‘Fire Inside’, at over five and a half minutes, outstays its welcome slightly, as does ‘Deadly Sins’. Placed next to each other in the track listing, it makes the middle of the album sag somewhat, and lose the sense of energy and momentum that Canavar had previously built up until that point.
These points aside though, the album is a hell of a lot of fun; hugely energetic, full of optimism and joy, just the kind of thing you want to hear when you need picking up after a bad day. It may be slightly flawed, and some of its lyrics stray a bit too close to cliche, but these points will barely register once you’re immersing yourself within the album. Stick this on after a rough time at work, and things won’t seem so bad any more.
Canavar is due for release on 28 September 2018, and can be pre-ordered via Bandcamp digitally and on CD.