Bear Vs Shark - Terrorhawk (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Bear Vs Shark

Terrorhawk (2005)

Equal Vision

Terrorhawk is an album that really reveals the fundamental shortcomings of the English language when trying to talk about music. In this case, I could describe it as a record that incorporated singing and screaming, melodic and aggressive moments and you'd walk away expecting something very different. In fact, while the band does embrace those things, Bear Vs. Shark takes it in an entirely different direction. The heavy moments don't need metal breakdowns, and the softer ones don't play into nü-emo clichés; there are no nasal, autotuned vocals or songs coldly calculated to enamor pre-teen girls.

Bear Vs. Shark comes from that older tradition of hardcore and emo when the two terms had more to do with the lyrical content than the sound of the band; the kind of aggressive, sensitive music that taps into melancholy rather than anger. This is gentle music, but it is also visceral; it is angry, but also self-concious. It is exactly what a solid modern emotional hardcore band should strive for.

"Baraga Embankment" begins with piano, with vocalist Marc Paffi very nearly crooning over a horn section which undulates between a brash big band and John Zorn squeals; "Catamaran" contemplates a crackling, stacatto riff to build tension before the shouted chorus. The band continues its creative streak with the simple two-note bass line which accompanies the verses of "Entrace Of The Elected," simple but deceptively.

While a disparate range of influences bubbles up through this record, particularly on the mellifluous "What A Horrible Night For A Curse," Terrorhawk is nonetheless anchored by its punk and hardcore roots, both in vocal style and in its emphasis on simplicity; so many other bands with this kind of songwriting prowess would have favoured overblown and silly arrangements; instead, Bear Vs. Shark concentrates on wringing as much power out of that two-note bassline, or the burst of feedback that leads out "I Fucked Your Dad."

Terrorhawk is an anthemic, creative and impressive record and brings Bear Vs. Shark to the forefront of the Equal Vision roster. People loved Right Now You're In The Best Of Hands, but they're going to love Terrorhawk more.