A band as proudly progressive as Minus The Bear shouldn't tread water with its third full-length. And yet Planet Of Ice triumphs precisely because it halts the group's forward momentum in favor of hushed, brooding contemplation. The mood suits them. After the disc suffers a weak start with the grating, effects-hampered "Burying Luck" and the inconsequential "Ice Monster"—where new keyboardist Alex Rose spreads on way too much synthesized cheese—"Knights" perfects Minus' glitch-prog with jabbing guitars, jittery effects, and Jake Snider's tense yet smooth ruminations on sexual economics.
From there, Planets enters another dimension. With heavy debts to Pink Floyd and Adrian Belew-era King Crimson, the disc uncoils with a sinister playfulness that culminates in "When We Escape"—which sports a majestic, alien chorus that imagines Jawbox covering Alan Parsons Project. The just-as-sublime nine-minute closer "Lotus" is exactly what mid-period Cave In should have sounded like. While not a huge sonic leap forward for Minus The Bear, Planet shows the band eager—and more than able—to take a deep breath and explore its emerging maturity and depth.