November 5, 1955 - Bears of the Sea (Cover Artwork)

November 5, 1955

November 5, 1955: Bears of the SeaBears of the Sea (2008)
Metal Blade Records

Reviewer Rating: 4

Contributed by: OverDefinedOverDefined
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Don't let the name fool you. Although taking their moniker from a "Back to the Future" reference, November 5, 1955 is neither a joke nor reactionary in any way. Rather, this post-hardcore/experimental group serves as a muscular intellectual outlet for members of fellow MA-based bands Sluts and the C.

Don't let the name fool you. Although taking their moniker from a "Back to the Future" reference, November 5, 1955 is neither a joke nor reactionary in any way. Rather, this post-hardcore/experimental group serves as a muscular intellectual outlet for members of fellow MA-based bands Sluts and the Carrier. In contrast, however, to those bands' more straightforward approach, November 5, 1955 ducks and curves through a multitude of angular riffs, odd time signatures and dense, grooving interludes. In other words, this band has chops and rocks out, but don't try to bob your head along during the first listen.

The band is sonically most reminiscent of Shai Hulud and At the Drive-In, bringing the aggression and tone of the first group with the wildness and experimentalism of the latter. But what immediately sets the band apart from contemporaries is the raw musicianship on full display. Each member has masterful control of their instrument and the band slides effortlessly between complex counterpoints and unified heavy rhythms. Furthermore, they manage to impart influence from every major player in the punk/hardcore/post-hardcore/emo world. Throughout the many ideas touched on the album, you can hear a little Fugazi, a little Converge, a little Dillinger Escape Plan, a little Botch, etc. However, the fearlessness the band imparts leads to an entirely original sound. Few bands will ever attempt this style, mostly because few bands will ever be this skilled.

Unlike some bands, lack of ideas is clearly not a problem as each track offers countless riffs and sections, all expertly performed with style and precision. It can be a lot to take in at first, leaving the listener numb or exhausted wishing for more repetition and less variation, but upon repeated listening the focus of the band begins to coalesce and appreciation sets in. Underneath the difficult outer layer, this is actually a very enjoyable and rewarding record.

Vocalist and guitarist Jay Maas, who is probably better known for his production work on recent albums by Shipwreck A.D. and Soul Control, utilizes a solid melodic scream to frame lyrics that are surprisingly dark for a band with such an odd name and flexible sound. The first track, "The Ambassador of Sarajevo" opens with two and a half minutes of instrumental work (including eight different riffs or sections -- I counted) before bursting with the damning call, "Here we are again. Let me be the first to say, you're weak beyond repair." The acrid tone of these words is matched by a raw intensity of delivery.

Later, on standout track "Jelly Side Down," Maas deals with unnamed family issues in a startlingly honest way reminiscent of Daryl Palumbo's lyrical purging on Glassjaw's debut, Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silence. While the musical chops of the band will likely remain the focus, the lyrics and vocal approach are just as strong and effective.

Unfortunately, this will probably be one of the best unheard records of 2008. With an odd band name and album title, ultimately demanding music, and seeing a release on Metal Blade imprint Ironclad, November 5, 1955's debut release, Bears of the Sea will likely be passed over by the crowd who would most enjoy it. This is a shame because it offers a refreshing take on the current landscape of music and displays musical sense light years beyond 99% of current bands. If you like smart and aggressive music that never rests on cliché, do yourself a favor and check this band out, although it may take a few listens.


People who liked this also liked:
At The Drive-In - Relationship Of CommandUntil Your Heart Stops - We Are Not Coming Down [7 inch]Refused - The Shape of Punk to ComeShai Hulud - Hearts Once Nourished With Hope and CompassionShai Hulud - That Within Blood Ill-TemperedDillinger Escape Plan - Calculating InfinityUnderoath - Define the Great LineExit She Calls - Out of ReachConverge - Axe to FallDelay - Plain Language

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
TheBluntman (November 25, 2009)

surprisingly good. nice to hear something different from time to time but still keep that hardcore edge. Some of the songs remind me of mewithoutyou - i never said i was brave. If instrumental isn't what you look for then bypass this album.

Tangy (March 27, 2008)

This is kind of interesting. I may pick this up in the future.

ickefes (March 27, 2008)

Based on this review I just bought this album off iTunes. Really interesting sound what I am hearing so far, and they do remindme of Shai Hulud mixed with their own identity. No score yet since I haven't heard the album yet, just one song that has managed to be fully downloaded at this moment. Regards

damnitsderek (March 27, 2008)

1955 or 1995?

inagreendase (March 26, 2008)

This sounds interesting. And bizarre for Metal Blade.

icapped2pac (March 26, 2008)

Amen to the influences. I thought the exact same thing...although I don't hear much Elliott in there.

icapped2pac (March 26, 2008)

I'll give it a 6 based on the originality. I can't really get into it, though.

go-jimmy (March 26, 2008)

I like what I've heard, plus they list a lot of my favourite bands as influences.

bryne (March 25, 2008)

Score's for Sluts. The band, I mean.

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