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Minus The Bear: Planet Of Ice

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.

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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.

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