Band Website: www.beardfish.argh.se
Label: Superball Music
Label Website: www.superballmusic.com
Release Date: 2011
So what do you get if you mix, one-part Art Rock, with one-part Frank Zappa, then add two-parts Gentle Giant and sprinkle in equal parts symphonic prog and modern pop prog. Give up? You get Beardfish. It’s an eclectic mix of styles that really works to convey the very wide range of music that progressive rock can display. Formed in 2000 Beardfish is currently made up of Rikard Sjöblom (vocals, keyboards), David Zackrisson (guitars), Robert Hansen (bass), and Magnus Östgren (drums). Mammoth is the band sixth studio release and like their previous efforts manages to jump all over the map incorporating a wide range of styles and yet comes across as a cohesive whole. I tend to put these guys in the symphonic category but there are times where they bounce out of that slot and display some scorching rock.
There are seven tracks on Mammoth; a good mix of short and long compositions. The sound is for the most part pretty full, almost dense highlighted mostly by Sjoblom’s great vocal style. It’s perhaps one of the most distinguishing characteristics of the band. Here their musical approach tends to be just a little more aggressive, although their compositional structure still allows for plenty of musical change-ups. Songs tend to take many unexpected turns here and there with layers of classic symphonic prog keyboards mixed in to be heard but never to dominate. It’s typical of the “new” prog in that it manages to retain the spirit of the classic seventies sound without repeating it. The music of Beardfish also retains that hint of melancholy or sourness that is so distinctive of Scandinavian bands. The other thing that Beardfish are able to do better than some bands is craft a distinctive, hummable melody throughout a piece even though the tune may go through many shifts in time and tempo.
The disc version I have of Mammoth comes with a special DVD bonus that shows the band performing live and includes a 25 minute documentary on the making of the new release. If you are fan of the band, this is another one of those no-brainers – you just go out and buy it. If you’ve never heard them before, you’ll be in for a treat. I think most symphonic prog fans will thoroughly enjoy the music on Mammoth. In my books it comes highly recommended.