Review Summary: Bear vs. Shark bid a fond farewell by offering, quite simply, one of the greatest albums of the post-hardcore genre.
Bear vs. Shark was definitely something of a rarity: they were a band that created something completely fresh and unique instead of simply emulating the bands that came before them. Bear vs. Shark embodied the mix of several different genres, and they were characterized by the creative structures of post-hardcore, the straight-forward energy of punk and the melodic sensibilities of indie rock. Unfortunately, the band had an incredibly short career that only spanned two albums. Terrorhawk
turned out to be their fond farewell to the music scene, but even half a decade after it’s release, the content of the album still sounds insightful, powerful and just downright flawless.
The song writing ability that Bear vs. Shark possessed was nothing short of amazing. Terrorhawk
features songs with unique structures and progressions, ferocious energy and melodic underpinnings. Every song on this album runs a gamut of emotions and intensities, and this is none better personified by the album opener, “Catamaran”. The song starts with the muted strumming of a guitar and a bittersweet keyboard line before erupting into a flurry of guitar and screams. The choruses manage to keep the intensity, but Bear vs. Shark also display their incredible sense of melody by installing a catchy vocal line on top of the fury. The second verse eases back without losing any confidence or drive before erupting into noise again, and the song closes with a wall of sound and blood-curdling screams. It’s so refreshing to see a band try something so unique and be so successful, and it’s amazing how they can be so cohesive with their varied structures and sounds.
Some of the best songs found on Terrorhawk
are the ones where the band settles into a 6/8 time signature. “5, 6 Kids” starts with a melodic lead guitar line and progresses into unrestrained verses and hard hitting choruses. “The Great Dinosaurs With Fifties Section” features a flowing groove where the guitars jangle, the bass guitar slides around and the drums gush and clamour freely. Even the more ballad-like songs of “What a Horrible Night For a Curse” and “Song About Old Roller Coaster” feature a free-wheeling 6/8 time signature that creates the perfect space for the band to create swirling melodies, simple drum beats and clean, heartfelt guitars.
But no review of this album would be complete without extended praise for Marc Paffi and his frightfully fantastic vocal performance. Not only does this guy have the ability to let loose some outlandish, ferocious, ear-piercing screams (“Seven Stop Hold Restart”), but his singing parts are so captivating that he really embodies whatever sounds are playing behind him. Both “Entrance of the Elected” and “Rich People Say Yeah Yeah Hey Hey” in particular have such strong vocal performances that it really adds to the melody and catchiness of the music. What’s even more amazing is how Marc really buckles down and personifies the beautiful “Baraga Embankment” and “What a Horrible Night For a Curse” with his sombre, forlorn vocal performance that fits the gorgeous music like a glove. With his versatility and his passion, Marc is easily one of the best, if not the best, singers of the genre.
For me, Terrorhawk
is nothing short of perfection. The music is so creative, unique and tasteful, and the vocals are nothing short of incredible. There’s so much passion and energy to be found in these songs, and there is not a single track on here where the band doesn’t pour their hearts out. It’s a great tragedy that they didn’t stick around for longer, but there’s great comfort in knowing that both of their albums, including this effort, will forever be regarded as some of the few truly great accomplishments of the post-hardcore genre.