TRACK-BY-TRACK: BEAR – ///
April 2nd, 2017
Basick Records have a habit of giving us ear crushingly heavy bands, so here we are once again; step up Bear. The Belgian math metallers are back with album number three (hence ‘///’), and are more distorted and demonic than ever before. Fans of Meshuggah and The Dillinger Escape should be all over this, and as a sneak peak into the thoughts behind the band, we’ve got a track-by-track rundown of ‘///’ by the dudes themselves.
This album was all about doing things we had never done before, music and vocal wise. ‘Blackpool’ is a great example of that. It opens with a steady groove instead of going all haywire from the get go. Also, the chorus is pretty much something we never done before: open chords and clean singing. Who’d ever think we would pull crap like that!? But, hey, it works, even for us! AND still sounds B3AR as F///CK.
My favourite song off the record. I wrote the main riff watching telly and just plucking some strings without a pick, because it had disappeared to another dimension again. First off, I slapped in on guitar, but the staccato effect was better using a pick. So, once I brought it to rehearsal, I asked Dries to slap it on bass and it sounded super cool. Math funk metal or whatever. I really love Maarten’s vocals on the pre-chorus too, very Mastodon.
I had been toying around with that main riff for a while before it took it’s final form in ‘Masks’. I write shit loads of music at home, and actually never intended this riff for BEAR, but when jamming it for fun at rehearsal, Serch just laid down the most simple groove on it. So simple, but yet tons of power. In the beginning, we all were like: nah, we can’t do this as BEAR. It’s too 4/4, haha. But in the end it offers a nice variation to our chaos. The bridge riff is actually a wink to a song by The Colour Line. We had such a blast touring with them.
The way I first wrote this song: the chaotic version of the opening riff, which is now more of a bridge to the verse, dictated the feel. But when we played it at rehearsal in the heavier version, it was just so demanding, we knew that would be much more powerful doing it less chaotic and more groovy. Finding the right verse riff wasn’t easy actually. It came along when we were jamming it together. After numerous failed ideas I just started speed picking one note in 4/4 as a joke, but the way Serch follows that with his kick drum and throwing multiple cross rhythms over that with his snare actually made that super simple riff sound super cool! Also the kids shouting in the chorus gives it that extra ‘je ne sais quoi’.
05.) KNIVES ARE EASY
A CLASSIC BEAR piece. Fast, aggressive, dissonant. The whole song up to the bridge is just a constant pummelling. For the bridge we chose to counter that with a heavy 2 note breakdown. Yup you read it: A BREAKDOWN! BEAR doing breakdowns???? Where has this world gone to! Not the typical chug kind of breakdown though, we still haven’t figured how to do such intricate musicianship.
06.) THE OATH
Starts off being vintage BEAR again. But doing an entire song like that can be fatiguing on the ears. So we threw in a catchy chorus. Yup: breakdowns, catchy choruses??? This new album was all about doing stuff we had never done before, remember? And the bridge is an awesome example of that again. Clean guitars, groovy drum ‘n bass and even some xylophones in there!
Inspired by the movie. Together with ‘Masks’ the most “easy listening” song on the record, as far as we can be “easy listening” that is. The song actually grew out of the rhythm change part in the bridge. That was something Serch came up with. Keeping the 16th notes the same speed but changing the time signature and feel. I wrote the other riffs so that they would seamlessly flow in and out of that feel change. Maarten’s singing on the chorus is another highlight of the album. Super high pitched and epic! Our strongest piece to date according to our lovely label, Basick Records.
This is actually our live soundcheck! First I always did it to soundcheck the guitars, giving the soundly a chug and a low string bend. Plain and simple, I hate guitarists that shred their fingers off during a soundcheck as if they have something to prove, haha. Serch and Dries started playing it along after a while, and ‘Klank’ was born. ‘Klank’ is the Dutch word for ‘sound’, by the way.
I like to tinker around with different tunings to force me to look at the guitar different. This one was written with the lowest string dropped to F#. Just like our song ‘Aconite’ off ‘Noumenon’. The most special part of this song is the bridge. Another feel change that doesn’t feel farfetched and Maarten’s epic singing (he does that a lot on this album so it seems) make it another stand out part on this record.
One of the few full songs that actually came from jamming together. Most of the time I bring in the songs/riffs and we finalise them together but this one was ‘constructed’ in the rehearsal room. Dries also slapped the bridge and outro riff which gives it a super nice vibe! It’s all in the funk!
The perfect end to an ‘in your face’ hour of music. Another non-typical BEAR joint. Yet it’s heavy, it’s groovy, and the outro is super epic. We got a girl choir to take it over the at the end, to ease your ears into the quiet nothingness of a fade out.
‘///’ is out on April 7th 2017 via Basick Records and you can pre-order it from Basick Supplies (here).