If you don’t rate the scene where you live, what do you do? Move somewhere else? Belgian mathcore maniacs Bear were fed up of not seeing bands like their idols The Dillinger Escape Plan, Botch and Norma Jean smashing up their local venue. For them, the answer was clear: create your own bloody scene.
“When we started we were one of the first and only bands in Belgium that did stuff like this,” remembers guitarist Leander Tsjakalov. “In the beginning everyone was like, ‘What the fuck is this? We don’t understand what you’re trying to do.’ There’s some cool bands here but because we’re such a small country it’s sometimes hard to get new things across. You have to really shove new things into people’s faces or they won’t give it a chance.”
For the last few years that’s exactly what Bear have been doing. Since their inception, Leander, drummer Serch Carriere, bassist Dries Verhaert and vocalist Maarten Albrechts have had just one goal: to make the most batshit, aggressive racket possible. Their first two albums, Doradus and Noumenon, were a blur of balls-to-the-wall technical hardcore, frantic verses and whizzy fretwork twisting like a tornado around catchy hooks and pile-driving riffs. “We’re called Bear because we wanted to do something ferocious,” says Leander enthusiastically. “When we play we can’t stand still. It makes us go crazy. We want to bring across that energy in our music.”
They’ve certainly caught the ears of the right people. In 2014, the band opened the main stage at Tech Fest, later finding out they’d drawn the biggest audience ever for an opening act at the event. Now on the cusp of releasing their third album, lead single Masks is something of a departure for the band. Stripping back the squealing instrumentation, the track comes over like a techier Psychosocial, combining blunt-force drumming and bludgeoning riffs. “We wanted to keep that essence of doing something ferocious, but try different things,” explains Leander. “Masks is our first straight-on mosher. We did it to show people we can do more than just play crazy metal, but keep things aggressive.”
It’s certainly easier to put Masks into words than it is Bear’s upcoming album, ///. Literally. “Whenever we write anything online we add these three slashes to represent the bear clawing at your face,” laughs Leander. “For the album we thought we should just use the three slashes but we have no idea how to say it.”
‘Triple Slash’ perhaps? Or even ‘Slash, Slash, Slash’? “We just call it: “‘Ffffffffffffffffffffffffffttttttttttt’,” he says, making a noise like something sharp slicing through air. Who cares how you pronounce it – just put Bear on and let the music do the talking.
/// IS OUT ON APRIL 7 VIA BASICK