Beat:Cancer returns once again to kick cancer in the naughty bits, by supporting cancer research! For those of you that don’t know, the organisation was formed in 2012 and has amassing quite a following in the process, resulting in numerous successful (and amazing) gigs, as well as no less than 9 CDs! Sadly, after 2019, the gang will be going on hiatus. You can’t really blame them for this, especially as they’ve been going non-stop for the past 7 years. It’s an impressive feat, and there’s no better way of doing a send-off than with a huge show at London’s Slimelight (on 9th November), and another compilation CD.
Yet again, this is packed with some great acts, a few who have played live shows for Beat:Cancer in the past. It’s an unpredictable mix of styles, that traverses the alternative scene, and goes to some surprising places at times. From up-tempo, hard-hitting tunes, to more creepy, ambient tracks, and everything in-between, this compilation pretty much covers all bases.
When you want to get a party started in style, you can always trust Bitman, and “Kill Humanz” does exactly this! Being as genre defying as ever, it combines gritty, slow wubbing electronics and hip-hop style beats, which builds into a speedier rhythm that’s almost metal in it’s presentation. The impact is forceful, and it has a pleasing stompy beat, complete with fantastic build ups and drops. Next up, a popular Promenade Cinema track is given the remix treatment with “Cassette Conversations (Mixtape Remix by CYFERDYNE)”, and oh boy have Cyferdyne left their mark on this one! It transforms the song into an industrial dance anthem, yet still maintains the haunting aura that was so integral to the original mix. Whilst it seems simplistic, the euphoric melody injects high levels of energy. Raw, menacing synths and pounding metallic percussion signal the start of Vain Machine’s “Exposed”. This is a catchy number, that captures the essence of old-school industrial music. There’s a multitude of different layers that wrap round it, transitioning and looping in various ways, adding an interesting dynamic. It’s bound to keep listeners entranced. After the high BPM energy of the previous tracks, we’re given breathing room as Witch of The Vale – “Your Voice Remix” plays out. However, this is no mere interlude, as this packs a stunning atmosphere. The ambience is mesmerising, being just as enchanting and chilling as the original. It’s so powerful that it’ll give any listener goosebumps. The tone then warps back to the high-octane in Nature of Wires – “Shame”. Space-like synths and a bulky bass are what mainly structures the track, and is quite the earworm. Sarah ‘Lady B’ Bouchier takes the forefront on vocal duties, and her powerful performance helps to enhance the instrumentation within the music, cumulating in a massive chorus.
Still Forever – “Beautiful Impossible [ST LUCIFER VIOLATION]” doesn’t seem to stray too far from the original source material, but the subtle additions change the mood of the track. More layers have been built on top of it’s foundations, and distortion effects are utilised in a way that makes it feel eerie. Harmjoy’s “Heart Shaped Shadow” is misleading at first, the wubbing synths feeling frenetic against the meteorological tones. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, it bursts into an EBM tune, complete with catchy hooks. It oddly feels melancholic, especially in the vocal delivery, yet the momentum keeps things lively. This is one of those tracks that’s sure to be a dancefloor pleaser. C-Lekktor – “Animals (Prehistoric remix by Karkasaurus)” is more minimalistic compared to it’s original counterpart. However, the way it’s been presented here makes it feel a lot more sinister. There’s a tribal feel to the drumbeat, and it’s still packed with an intense ferocity. Meanwhile, the chugging electro of DKAG’s “ Indicators of Compromise” pounds into the eardrums. The hypnotic beat lasts for a while, but before it can get stale, a melodic bridge helps to break things up, transitioning into one hell of a drop. The resulting outcome is an even harsher beat, that is likely to carry listeners away into a stomping frenzy. Listening to this one sparks visions of masses raving away in a gritty nightclub, as neon lights flare. Matt Hart – “Infinite March (DNA REMIX)” begins with what I can only describe is the sound of a spaceship hovering in the sky. Warning sirens blare, and this builds into synths that sound like they were taken from a Stranger Things episode. It then becomes something completely different, as it adds in a chunky, dirty bassline, alongside vicious, growling vocals, transforming into a dubstep assault, complete with heavy riffs. It still maintains a consistency, and evolves in usual, but satisfying ways. There’s some astral synth-work in The Luddite Collective – “Priorities (Christabel Christo remix)”, which echoes all around, alongside spoken word poetry. The duo are no strangers to political messages, and they are clear as day here, the way it’s layered becoming overwhelming at times. Needless to say, this adds to the impact of these statements, only solidifying them. The instrumentation builds in the background, as the disturbing sounds of war creep into it.
On the other hand, Mouth of the Void’s “Discovery of Witches” is more retro in it’s mood. However, rather than being a typical musical number, it focuses on building an aura. There’s the use of slow, haunting background ambience as creepy spoken sections seep, that sound like they’re being recited by a demonic force. It’s as if the listener is trapped in an abandoned haunted dungeon. Bein-E – “Monsters (Exhale)” keeps up with theme of the previous track, only this one sounds like ambience from Gothic horror tale. Voice sampling makes it genuinely feel as if there is a presence right behind you, speaking unsettling words into your ear, before materialising across the room. The tone is disturbing to say the least, and is an experience in itself. Things kick back into high gear one again, as D.E.P – “Violet (remix by Caustic)” bursts in. A pounding tribal beat completely takes over, and drives the track forward with an unrelenting force. Whilst it’s minimalistic in the number of layers it uses, it still packs a punch and it doesn’t let up. After the darkness of the previous few tracks, Croona – “We all need love” feels like a breath of fresh air. Not at all a dig at any of the previous songs, it’s just a nice contrast! The way in which the synths are formed feel as is warping through space. There’s a bright, captivating mood it creates, that is intoxicating, aided by a beat that’s highly addictive. In further contrast, Defeat – “Resist (Reconstructed)” has a wicked, thick bassline that runs through a glitch-laden landscape, backed by a prominent drumbeat. This builds into a sleazy rhythm, and becomes perverse in it’s tone. It’s like Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” mating with Skinny Puppy’s early work. Mortalitech – “Cynosure Gestalt – EAM Mix” closes this compilation, and it’s quite a chaotic way to finish. There’s a cavalcade of electronic melodies, mashed together with death metal style kick-drums and harsh riffage. This is loud, noisy and gloriously unpredictable.
The range on display is impressive, and the different styles ensure that there’s something for everyone. Each track is strong on it’s own merits, brining something new to the table each time. What’s even more remarkable, is the overall pacing. Despite there being artists of varying genres, it all flows extremely consistently, and feels like a coherent record. Even with it’s massive runtime of over an hour, it’s still easy to digest, and is so engrossing that the time flies by at a brisk pace.
If this is to be the last Beat:Cancer compilation for a while, then it’s a damn fine note to pause on. It maintains a strong run from start to finish, feeling like a fantastic exploration through alternative music. It’s length will be perhaps a bit exhausting for some to manage in one sitting, but the sheer diversity makes it all worthwhile. The most important thing of all, of course, is that any money raised from the sales of this compilation will go straight to the aid of cancer research. It feels little to ask for such an amazing cause, plus you’ll get some fantastic music for it too! Hopefully I’ll see you at the send-off in London on 9th November. It’s going to be one heck of a party!
Final Verdict: An excellent compilation album that features an impressively diverse range of alternative music. It flows quite coherently too, feeling like an unpredictable journey. Plus, it’s all in support of cancer charity, so it’s worth it for the cause!
The review was conducted with an advance copy of the record, due for release on 9th November. Credits and thanks to Oh Shi! Photography for the photos featured in this review.