You wouldn’t trust a bear to fly a plane; it wouldn’t have taken in the training required for such a massive task, and would probably gore the stewards. You also wouldn’t trust Antwerp tech-metallers Bear to fly a plane; they’d embark on a series of loops, barrel rolls and corkscrews all within the first minute of the flight, if their performance on previous full-lengths ‘Doradus’ and ‘Noumenon.’ matched their flying skills.
Third album ‘///’ (Visually resembling the mark of a bear’s claw) is a continuation of Bear’s bumpy ride, as listeners are treated to heavy, technical riffing, unpredictable song structures and a vocal performance that keeps up with Jens Kidman combined with Mastodon-sized choruses.
The thick production of the record makes an impact from the moment opener ‘Blackpool’ jolts into action, as mountains of Drop G riffs build on top of each other like concrete blocks. From here, listeners are treated to a sonic pummeling that is constant even in it’s most melodic moments, like in the signature switching chorus of ‘Hounds’, and the more mainstream approach of single ‘Masks’, which owes some gratitude to latter-day Slipknot.
The composition on tracks like ‘7’ and ‘Raw’ switches between breakneck speed and 4-4 grooves seamlessly, which displays the band’s technical craft at its most dynamic. While the performance alone feels akin to being trapped in the centre of a hurricane, subtle inclusions of synthesisers on ‘Knives Are Easy’ and ‘Construct.Constrict’ builds up a darker texture to these songs.
There isn’t much deviation from this battering on ‘///’, and if you aren’t headbanging to the point of decapitation by the time you reach the breakdown at the end of ‘Childbreaker’, you shouldn’t board this flight. But, when Bear are as passionate and chaotic to the extent they are here, all you can do is fasten your seatbelt, put on your safety jacket and enjoy the turbulence.
’///’ by Bear is released on April 7th via Basick Records.
Words by Andy Davidson (@AndyrfDavidson)