Hailing from Antwerp, Belgium, Bear are a wonderfully diverse four piece playing aggressive prog inspired metal with just enough djent to add low end excitement without becoming yet another Meshuggah clone. So, instant brownie points there.
The album’s opener ‘Blackpool’, is far more enjoyable than visiting the British seaside town, and the production on it is about as grimy as its streets. Madcap moments of seemingly unbridled anger filled with angular and jagged atonal guitar riffing courtesy of guitarist, Leander Tsjakalov. This song alone sets /// apart from the vast majority of the year’s releases so far: Bear are something special.
Track 3, ‘Masks’, maintains this sonic assault, and is blended with passages of harsh and clean vocals that could only come from the finest of metalcore bands – actual metalcore of course; think Vision of Disorder rather than Asking Alexandria. The sparing use of electronica samples in the song’s bridge are a complete surprise. It highlights a clear intellectualism to the bands creative process – these sounds are used to their music’s benefit, rather than jumping of the bandwagon of using dubstep samples because they are popular.
The harmonic slides in ‘Knives are Easy’ are of Gojira levels of virtuosity in their inclusion, while the gang vocals and grooving rhythm laced into the three and a half minutes are absolutely going to be enough to level any venue they will grace with their presence.
The mix of Periphery and The Dillinger Escape Plan on this album works wonderfully – you can tangibly hear and feel the influence without it sounding like a cheap imitation. These aren’t the only bands that hold an apparent place in the band’s heart: The ninety-second-long ‘Klank’ has an air of Meshuggah meets Primus, and though it is a short instrumental track, it’s every bit as awesome as that sounds.
The highlight of this record is the one-two punch of the final tracks; ‘Construct.Constrict’ and ‘Adjust.Adapt.’ Crushingly heavy palm muted power chords followed by technical single note riffing has a hell of a lot of SikTh to it, but the whole thing is brought together by Maarten Albrechts’ finest vocal performance of the album.
As far as prog metal goes, if The Dillinger Escape Plan are the masters, then Bear are smashing their tech-laden A Levels. This is definitely a band to latch on to now, as they could become the new kings of the extreme progressive underworld.