Album review: BEAR – ///
Genre: Djent / extreme metal / hardcore punk
Release date: 7th April, 2017
Record label: Basick
Enthusing Meshuggah-esque djent with direct, punchy and anarchic hardcore, Belgian quartet BEAR represents polyrhythmic and technically astute progressive metal at its most forceful. Fuelled by a politically satirical bite and compositions of unrivalled intensity, the band’s upcoming third album, the aptly titled /// (pronounced slash–slash–slash), is a perfect display of their unbridled aggression and unfaltering attitude.
As soon as the album’s frenetic opening cut, “Blackpool”, kicks itself into gear in a flurry of ceaseless musical punishment, it’s instantly apparent what kind of record /// is: one that is legitimately unpredictable from start to finish. And when you’re a band trying to bend the rules of what metal music can do, possessing that ability is a sure-fire hallmark of rock n’ roll brilliance. For a great deal of music fans, safety is a massive draw: people love their verse–chorus–verse–chorus–bridge–chorus–chorus structure, even in metal, with some of the most progressive heavy bands in the universe, like Opeth and Dream Theater, even once in a while dipping their toe into a more simplistic writing format. But BEAR has no time for that! Only two things are guaranteed whenever a track from /// starts: that it will be ungodly heavy and that it will be quick. With ///’s longest song clocking in at four minutes, this is a band with no time to mess around, pummelling their listeners with a dense, prolific audial attack from start to finish.
However, this isn’t to say that there’s not some room for diversity within ///’s forty-minute running time. Entries like “The Oath” and “Construct.Constrict” are two of this record’s most immediate stand-outs, making room for a healthy dose of melody while also maintaining a healthy speed and undisputed, thrashy goodness. Furthermore, riffs such as those on “Adjust.Adapt” are meaty groove metal slices that carry an irresistibly aggressive weight guaranteed to satiate any metalhead.
/// is not the most complex prog record in the world, nor is it the most mind-bending, yet it is an album that becomes more and more rewarding the more time the listener devotes to it. No matter how many spins this record gets, it always remains adrenaline-pumping, expectation-smashing and, quite simply, heavy. Every second of this record is vacuum-packed with as much pure heaviness as possible, and the end result is an addictive powerhouse, as well as BEAR’s best record to date.
Final rating: /// gets 8 random punctuation marks out of 10.
/// will be available physically and digitally via Basick Records on 7th April.