Beer beer beer, I love beer. Especially Belgian beer! Ok, I’m from Germany, so I somehow love each and every beer. But Bear are from Belgium as well, and they’re just as admirable! Speaking of bears, this is not about our cuddly, hairy brown friends that live in the forest; no no, this is all about the band also known as B3AR, founded in 2010 in the city of Antwerp. Now, in 2017, they released the follow-up to 2013’s Noumenon via Basick on April 7th, and it is entitled ///.
If you look closely, you’ll see that /// basically represents the claws of a bear, which might just be the intention of the record’s title. But that’s only a cosmetic (and purely subjective) perception. Let’s move on and talk about what really matters: music!
When a band starts with dissonant accentations and low-end notes in a chaotic-sounding way, it’s probably The Dillinger Escape Plan with “43% Burnt“. This time, though, it’s Bear who create a very similar opening to their new record ///. At some points, the band also adds a slightly sludgy feeling to that sound, especially by utilizing vocals that deliver an almost Mastodon-ish vibe (one might listen to “Hounds“, for example). À propos vocals, the rhythms and the phrasing are clearly inspired by the great Greg Puciato. And despite the obviously different timbre, the way Bear use said clean singing is also reminiscent of the slower Dillinger songs; this is most apparent in “Masks”.
In fact, „Masks“ was the first single off the record, and is sure to get you grooving with its very Slipknot-“Psychosocial“-esque, pushing rhythm. On the other hand, we have the chorus, which presents us with a “Widower“-style mood. It’s not even clear how to define this song. Is it mathcore? Sure, but not exclusively. Is it metal? Also, yeah. So might math-metal be the best fit? It’s really up to the recipients. There is something for everyone in here for sure, since “Masks” is catchy, heavy and easily listenable, providing a lot of fun!
When listening to the beginning of “7“, a very KoRn-esque section suddenly appears, which heavily reminds of the nu-metal pioneers’ early 2000’s material due to the similar bass sound. The following riff has a doomy, almost Gojira-like, but also Oathbreaker-ish (if not even Behemoth-esque) feel to it; mysterious, dark, yet also groovy. Bear also manage to include some synthetic overdubs that don’t seem forced and deliver a cool ambiance to the sound. With its wholly different attitude to the foregoing song and strong vocal performance, “7” definitely stands out in a good way.
A following song like “Klank“ does serve its purpose by delivering a certain mood, but based on the repetitive break (which is really, really basic, only consisting of two accents on 1 and 2, while pausing for 3 and 4), it just feels uninspired compared to the rest. So the necessity of this one is in question, as it isn’t anything more than filler. It doesn’t even flows in between the other songs, which is too bad.
Something that might pop up in a listener’s mind now could be the slow-paced tempo of this record; /// isn’t nearly as frantic as some other math-y bands out there. This leaves this record feeling longer than it actually is. But in all honesty, its 38 minutes of runtime are totally enough. /// ends with “Adjust.Adapt”, a song that summerizes almost everything that happened on the whole record, even going so far as to end with a melancholic chorus and a children’s choir! What, a children’s choir on a mathcore album? Oh yes!
Bear deliver a decent level of groove-oriented mathcore songwriting that is fun to listen to (and probably to watch live as well). They definitely know how to play their instruments and how to keep track of quality material, which is proven by their ability to compose songs that are diverse and catchy while still sounding homogenous enough. When you like the vision of the band described in the past sentences, you will like the overall product as well. /// definitely is a fun record, but might get a little repetitive from time to time; some tracks stand out better than others. Concerning the sound, this record comes with a truly matching and decent production, delivering a more rock-driven attitude, raw sound, powerful drums and good vocal production. Make sure to give /// a spin!
Notable Tracks: “Masks“; “7“
FFO: The Dillinger Escape Plan, Norma Jean, Mastodon, Gojira
As Bear state on their Facebook, they ‘put the dent in djent’, make sure to follow them!