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Bear Claw-Slow Speed: Deep Owls

March 1, 2008

Sickroom Records, Ltd.

Heavy double-bass punk/metal with serious chops.

If the blindingly long and drawn out jam sesh that is the first track of this album doesn’t set you off, then congratulations! You have made it to the rest of the album, which is actually quite delightful.

Ok, so delightful is probably not the best word to use in order to describe this thumping, thick, bass-guitar-heavy second album by Bear Claw. The band has been described as a post-punk band, but it’s more of a metal/punk hybrid. Singers Rich Fessler and Scott Picco talk and sometimes yell their way over thick, melodic tracks. Picco and Fessler’s singing method is different in the way that it’s not so much singing as it is just loudly talking. This delivers a cool effect in most of the songs, but honestly gets rather old.

“Slippage” has one of the best vocal tracks on the album—it is set apart by the higher tone of voice and actual singing. The tone makes it possible to feel Picco’s desperation. Like the rest of the songs, the arrangement is deep and haunting, as the two bass guitars are heavy, rich, and dynamic.

You read right; Bear Claw is composed of two bass guitars and drums. This could very easily set the band in the rut of being just plain old plodding, weighty and monotonous, but Bear Claw rises above and makes good use of the entire fingerboard on the bass. This is refreshing on a lot of the tracks.

The listener can feel a lot of mood radiate from this album as a whole and many of the songs on it. The songs independently are very intriguing, especially when you consider the lyrics. “Stubborn Agenda” was a personal favorite.

This album is complicated – don’t just take it for an easy listen on a Sunday afternoon. The motifs and chords are complex and interchanging, which keeps it interesting, especially to a seasoned listener’s ear. It is extremely dissonant, which can be surprisingly invigorating. Despite minor setbacks throughout, it would be a shame to overlook this release.

Emily Craner

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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