Antwerp-based BEAR having been plying their brand of Math Metal intensity since 2010. Their debut release, Abstractions (EP), in 2010 was followed by Abstractions 2.0 (EP), Doradus (album) followed in 2011 with Noumenon in 2013. The line-up is Leander Verheyen (guitars), Dries Verhaert (bass), Serch Carriere (drums) and Maarten Albrechts (vocals).
“Make no sound when you’re dead!!” The amount of energy that pours out of the speakers leaves you in no doubt of what you’re hearing and that it will continue throughout this album. Blackpool isn’t even the most intense and driving song here but it sure does jump around like a reanimated corpse possessed. Seemingly uneven rhythm changes give the tune a disjointed feel but it all hangs together with a tenacious logic that is only apparent when (if you’ve not experienced this sort of thing before. Like, where have YOU been?) you reach the middle. There is a feast of music just within this first song, which isn’t even four minutes long, that pulls you along with it like a black hole dragging in its next victim. And yet this is a call to people to wake up and become motivated – this is socially aware music aimed directly at the individual rather than pointing out the injustices around us. Next up is Hounds which jumps into existence with an insistent and pounding rhythm and raw vocal followed swiftly by the guitars. Yet for all the tense and vital power when it gets to the chorus there is a melodic reconciling, contrasting well with vitriol and bringing with it a highly memorable hook amongst the devastating onslaught which pervades the rest of the song. And this also happens with song number three, Masks so that by now if you are not at least nodding your head you should consider yourself to be a fan of Coldplay (!). It moves at an undemanding enough pace but still manages to be as intense because of the unstoppable character and manages to rival some of the Industrial Metal crowd while still managing to be Metal. Also the further into this album you get the more you notice the additional post-production with the little touches here and there in a way that almost dehumanizes elements of the music and in particular Maarten Albrechts vocals as a reflection of some of the subjects the lyrics centre on. Well, hot damn!! Childbreaker musically hits the mark for those who want to hear something with some anger. It charges along with a battering jack-hammer personality countered by a slower, lurching menace. This one has such a simple progression built from a few parts and yet stands as one of the most effective songs on the album by the fact that it fills the three minutes of its existence with so much action. Knives Are Easy and The Oath keep up the pace but provide the listener with more along the lines of those epileptic changes that characterized some of the early music of Voivod while giving a hint of Modern Death Metal influences and still BEAR have added melody where they can within their particular approach. The addition of anything that will add to the experience of each song making it an individual part of the album without sacrificing the overall aim of the album shows how much the Belgian quartet understand about making an effective statement (this goes back to their previous releases and /// builds upon that understanding). The nature of 7 is in contrast to the preceding tunes in that it has a style that is overwhelmingly melodic in comparison (but I assure you it stands well within this album) in this first half while still managing to be Metal enough and then there is a breakdown where the rhythm changes subtly but effectively (giving a hint of Pantera to the song) and this gives added to life to something that could have been weaker in the context of this opus. As a (very) brief break we are blessed with a slow instrumental in the form of Klank which relies on a basic idea but it does break up necessarily the track listing before Raw explodes into action. Back to the raw and frantic energy, it starts off as a Hardcore / Metal combination with screaming guitars and thunderous rhythms giving way to the dominant chorus. The change in rhythm is as with 7 in another example of total song writing control, the momentum still being maintained even though the speed changes. The last two songs appear to be paired together by their titles: Construct.Constrict and Adjust.Adapt. More of the Hardcore influence comes through in Construct.Constrict with double time verses matched against slower and considered and uplifting choruses which broaden out from the dense sounds creating memorable moments within this tune. Construct.Constrict has an almost gothic and definitely confrontational feel to its breakdown exalting you to “Wake Up!” once again showing the broad scope upon which BEAR are more than comfortable to draw on. Adjust.Adapt as the finale to /// brings the pace down but not the impact with the crunching sound of the guitars, harsh vocal delivery and the unstoppable rhythm. Again, there is a hint of the gothic especially in the breakdown towards the end but the passion that comes across is still as persistent as in the first song. And this is the point when another spin of the album is needed just to make sure the experience wasn’t a dream.
There is much to what BEAR do as on previous releases and they use it to such dramatic effect as they seek to create something that will stand the test of time and not merely become another album destined for obscurity five years from now. The fusion of Metal and Hardcore attitude is nothing new but because they unflinchingly spice up the personality of each song with either post-production and / or ideas taken from unconventional sources. Not that you’d necessarily notice this anyway as each piece seems a complete and fully formed representation of the musicians aspirations which is create exciting music. When they tour the UK be sure to catch them to see and hear what they’re all about before they become your favourite group.
BEAR are a Belgian Math Metal quartet and since 2010 have been been building a solid reputation for their no nonsense approach. They are now on the verge of releasing their third album.