Taking on the classic metalcore influences of bands like KILLSWITCH ENDGAGE and PARKWAY DRIVE, South Wales newcomers I FIGHT BEARS present their self-titled debut album. Promising a fresh take on such a sound with new ideas and a itch of raw talent, does this shining debut deliver?
From the off, it’s a brutal assault from opener Hammers, combining some thick, industrial riffs, raw and snarling, with fractious drums and deep, aggressive basslines. Vocals both clean and screamed are balanced perfectly. For such a big opener, you’d wonder if the band could keep up that kind of momentum. Have no fear, because the second track, Envision, is not giving up the intensity. A track much in the same vein as that that came before, it’s full bodied and well realised, and masterfully played. The riffs are extreme and melodic and all the motions of this track are bearing down upon the listener with true force and passion.
Lost the Fight has that big LAMB OF GOD influenced sound; old school weight, smart pitch pinches, and otherwise low chucking riffs. The breakdown towards the end of the track is a complete pay off for the exhilarating the ride through this belter of a tune. For those taking a liking to this record, Lost the Fight might be a contender for highlight of the album.
There’s yet another massive start from the next track, Design & Purpose. It’s the frothing at the mouth intensity, the neat riff one after another, the vocals that couldn’t go over any other kind of music. The riffs, as you’ll have noticed, are a big feature of this band, and it might sound like this review is something of a broken record. However, it’s impossible not to be impressed by the great innovation and top quality of each melody, achingly played out from these mighty strings.
It’s great to hear a band have such control over their sound; it’s clear what the moments when the music just grinds down on you are totally intentional. You might find yourself crushed under the impact, but by god you’ll enjoy every moment of it. In fact, you’ll most likely throw yourself under the mercy of the next blinding track Life Of One. The melody feels like steadier run like a here, as oppose to the constant sprint of the first half of the record. However, that’s not to say this isn’t heavy or lively, far from it. By the halfway point, you might just want to appreciate how good these guys are without them mounting your ears and ripping them completely from you face. There are moments they’re tempted to, for sure, but you’ll just have to wait until Disposed for that particular treat. Fast, frantic, visceral playing from all sides, the slower moments you can catch your breath are akin to bobbing in an ocean storm before the sharks pull you under again. There’s nothing to fault here, this track his just a mountain of sound. I FIGHT BEARS know how to create something totally realised and finely orchestrated. It’s not a barrage of random noise, it’s played from the heart and really creates a sense of connection to what you’re listening to.
Trust, and this seems far too gentle a name for this track, the seven on this album to try and break you. Sonically, it’s just never-ending force, a monster of auditory nature manipulating your ears to its own will, under the cover of groove laden melody and back breaking vocals. There’s a real passion that’s almost tangible here; a must hear.
One thing to take from I FIGHT BEARS is this, you have to take this album as a literal embodiment of their namesake. And what do you not to when you’re fighting bears? You don’t slacken off at the end. Both Exhale and Smoking Gun take what the band have been building on all album through, those guttural screams and rising vocal harmonies, the battering drums and feverish guitars, all swarming under a wave of thick riffs and overarching power, and turn it up to the utter extremes. Likewise, to bring this brilliantly crushing album to a close is the behemoth, System. It’s a great punch of sing along chorus’ and throw yourself hysterical versus. If you survived this long, your efforts have been well rewarded. We’ll say no more.
It’s hard to conceive such a brutal album could fly by so quickly, and yet here at the end, you’ll be confused just how you’re so drained and wasted. It’s an album not for the faint hearted, it’s an assault. Yet, it’s so chock-filled with might and weight, with such a magnetic energy, I FIGHT BEARS have demonstrated just how massive a force they are.
I Fight Bears is set for release on February 16th via self-release.
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