The Bearer – Chained To A Tree Review

Understanding the assignment is a very valuable trait in a band.

In the mid-‘00s, metalcore (WAIT, DON’T LEAVE) hit its nadir as a seemingly endless parade of copycat bands wrote half-assed At The Gates riffs and shoehorned saccharine winy choruses between the world’s laziest one-note breakdowns. That horrifying period more than justifies that desire you had to close out of this review the second you saw the word metalcore. Once upon a time, however, the likes of Converge, Cave In, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Zao and All Else Failed were making something exciting and new. They blended hardcore’s simplicity and emotionally charged lyrics/vocals with metal’s penchant for big riffs and speed.

Release date: July 1, 2022. Label: Silent Pendulum Records.
Since its collapse in the eyes of many, few modern bands have dared dip their toes in the metalcore pool and even fewer have successfully captured the vital elements that made the OGs so interesting. Black Sheep Wall’s Songs For The Enamel Queen managed to capture and mutate the genre’s essence hideously well last year. While their take focused on coating its metalcore in gallons of sludge and punishing the listener by dragging them through it for nearly an hour, Silent Pendulum label mates The Bearer take the opposite tack and come after the listener with speed and simplicity.

Chained To A Tree is at once unwieldy and tight, aggressive and emotive, crushing and at moments beautiful. This concise battering from the Austin trio brings all the elements most important to the style and colors in the picture with crosshatches of grind, post-metal and groove for good measure.

The best moments on the album are when those extra elements are paired together or pitted against one another. “Sympathy Grinder” opens with a blast-ridden grinding assault but just as quickly drops into a simple grooving beatdown of a riff and the song continues to battle with itself between the two approaches for the remainder of the track. “Slow Anguished Moments” appropriately has a slow cleaner post-metal passage complete with ranting vocals that drops into a hardcore breakdown with some excellent fills to keep it spicy from drummer/vocalist Colton Siegmund. Want things to get a little mathy? “Jagged Lines” has little glimmers of Calculating Infinity’s angular ugliness. At only 1:15, “Let It Burn” puts an itch to run in the listener’s feet with a punk speed and an infectious riff that would be right at home on a Mutoid Man album.

Naturally, The Bearer goes for the big ending with “Holy Water.” The main riff of the song is a darker mid-paced beast aiming to crush. The verses in between those hard-hitting passages don’t let the guitar riff so much as pluck out notes that are perpetually building back toward unleashing that big riff one more time. Eventually, the song and album close with one final unwieldy passage worked over with anguished screams.

As much as The Bearer understands the assignment from a musical perspective, they also understand it from the listener’s perspective. While I referred to “Holy Water” as a big finish, the song is still just shy of the four-minute mark despite being the longest song on the album. The band brings a grind mentality to the proceedings knowing it is better to unleash 12 short-burst songs that barely surpass 30 minutes, so listeners can lock in for the full run without experiencing fatigue.

By no means is Chained To A Tree the new savior of metalcore, nor is it likely to make you a new convert to the genre if you’ve never liked it before now. If you’re a fan of the golden origins of the genre, however, and miss when metalcore had teeth to bite with, then The Bearer should be added to your next playlist.

Posted by Spencer Hotz

Admirer of the weird, the bizarre and the heavy, but so are you. Why else would you be here?

  1. Some good stuff here. This certainly takes me back.

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  2. This reminds me of when Brutal Truth started to get a bit strange both musically and vocally ( Kill Trend Suicide album ). I was pretty disappointed at the time at how far they strayed from the heights of “Birth of Ignorance”, but this sounds quite interesting in the context of modern metal.

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