Solar Bear’s six-track EP, Captains Of Industry, opens with “Logical Fallacy,” a minute-long intro track that sounds like a Refused track run through a grainy vintage filter. And if its title is any indicator, the song is a bit of a trick; it puts you off your guard, making you wonder whether your speakers are turned down or if the band just committed a newbie recording mistake. But no such mistakes here, as made evident by the next track, “The Endless Choir.” Angular riffs dance around tricky time signatures, immediately making me think, “Yes, Solar Bear! I hate your band name, but I’ll still give your post-hardcore stylings a whirl!”
Listen to “The Endless Choir” – DOWNLOAD MP3
And my, I am glad I did. My favorite moment on Captains Of Industry might lie in the third track, “Mr. Iconoclastic Vs. The Captains Of Industry,” because at some point during vocalist Marcus Tallistch’s sing-scream-speak session, I realized: I like this band because I love These Arms Are Snakes. And with TAAS having kicked it in the proverbial bucket last year, I am more than stoked to find Denver’s Solar Bear. That being said, had the rest of the tracks on the album sounded like this one, I might have liked the band fine, but respected it only a small degree. Turns out Solar Bear is way more than just a TAAS rip-off band. The rest of the EP is surprisingly varied and more musically diverse than TAAS’ outputs, for certain. And though it may not seem obvious beneath the sheaths of gritty vocals and pummeling guitar, Solar Bear’s songwriting intelligence shines most in subtlety. “Eating Disorders” is particularly interesting in this regard; with every listen, I seem to pick out something new, be it a (potentially) Latin American-inspired guitar line, a goofy fantasy metal cowlick, or the surprising incorporation of piano. Ultimately, as with all bands in this ballpark that I love and respect — like TAAS or Fear Before or Hot Cross — Solar Bear achieves a sense of balance and grace within a framework of chaos.
(And, did I mention? They’re unsigned.)