One of Belgium’s most storied contemporary hardcore bands, BEAR’s rise to infamy has been propelled by their ferocious live show and alche- mical combination of metallic hardcore chaos and hook-laden melodies.
Destruction has always been an integral part of the band’s live ethos, from the sonic obliteration of squat venues and 1,000 cap. concert halls to physically smashing their instruments to pieces on stage every night in a visceral performance that has to be seen to be believed. On ‘Vanta,’ BEAR’s ffth full-length studio album, the veteran post-hardcore quartet strike a razor-sharp balance between the fury that continues to drive them and a series of worldly, battle-scarred refections on where it stems from.
BEAR was born in 2009 when four members of Antwerp’s thriving hardcore scene combined forces to start a new band that took no prisoners. Bringing British guitarist James Falck into the fold in 2017 saw BEAR ready to unleash their fourth album ‘Propaganda’ until fate dealt the band a cruel hand. Falck received a serious cancer diagnosis and the band dropped everything to support their brother in arms. Just as Falck began to recover, the pandemic reared its ugly head and the great BEAR was muzzled yet again. Now, having endured so much, the band have regrouped to wear their scars with pride and chronicle some of the darkest chapters of their lives in ‘Vanta.’
Exploring the visceral themes established on ‘Propaganda,’ ‘Vanta’ continues to push the progressive metal envelope with sprawling, complex arrangements and a deeper, more intimate lyrical concept. “Vanta orbits around the mundane horrors of everyday life,” explains Falck, “from watching our friends hang up their instruments for good to considering what might drive someone to murder.”
Harrowing from the outset, album opener ‘Atone’ is a barrage of technical rifs, rolling grooves and unrelenting blast beats. Whilst tracks like ‘Cisplatin’, ‘Piece’ and ‘Earthgrinder’ show BEAR at their incendiary apex, they also document the band’s growth, experience and widening infuence. A searing saxophone solo from Vincent Breys (BRZZVLL), guest vocals from Stefan De Graef (Psychonaut) and all the driving hallmarks of Chiaran Verheyden’s (of Hippotraktor) production feature alongside atmospheric interludes built from experimental house drum breaks and real human screams.
This truly fearsome evolution in sound presents ‘Vanta’ as a formidable body of work from four friends bound together by years of physical and emotional sufering. Now, having cheated death, the band are unafraid to claw at the places where it hurts the most…
Beware the BEAR.