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Beardfish - Mammoth CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.96 | 646 ratings

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4 stars I have been really interested in checking out more of the works of Beardfish. So far I have been pretty impressed with their work, especially with the two part concept album 'Sleeping In Traffic'. I wanted to give another one of their albums a spin, but I did not know which one. That is until I looked at this album's cover a bit closer. A mammoth covered in bloody snow with blue, fish-like silhouettes near its eyes, with dirty husks and crackly fur. It looks strange and nothing like any of the band's album covers. It wasn't dark and creepy, or depressing looking, but very surreal. So I decided to check it out.

The album starts with The Platform. Already the album starts off with a very heavy song that showcases a clear inspiration to metal bands of old. I have always appreciated the band's call to action when trying out different styles, and this song definitely delivers that in spades. They clearly progressed forward to new heights with this one in their own Beardfishy way. This also gets pretty epic through the second half, heck almost going near extreme metal at a point before wrapping back to a signature start that evolves into more heavy playing. A great start for this album.

The next song is And The Stone Said: If I Could Speak. It is a 15 minute epic that continues the momentum The Platform gave us and expands upon it to a more proggy and almost a Yes level of bizarre. You can also hear a bit of their European roots in this song, especially near the beginning with a quiet keyboard playing a more Swedish sounding melody. It flows very nicely and feels very consistent with its melodies and progressions to where the song feels long but also very enjoyable in how they operate. It drips and pours with talent that this band seems to always master, and that goes hand in hand with how grand this song feels without it feeling overly pretentious.

After that we got Tightrope, and this song goes less of a hard rock point of view and more baroque. Not saying it doesn't continue the feelings the last two songs delivered, but this tune is clearly a bit more inspired by folk tunes from bands like Jethro Tull or heck even a little bit of Gryphon. It's super fun sounding and delivers some great riffs. That is another thing this band does well and that is their riffs. They are all so consistently great that they never become boring when I hear them. However I failed to mention this when talking about the last songs, but when I heard this song I paid a bit more attention to the lyrics. In most cases I really love the song writing in a ton of Beardfish songs due to how weird, wacky, and funny they are, while also delivering a sense of seriousness much like lyrics from Frank Zappa or Devin Townsend. Here on this album though, it's pretty weak on the humor and is generally more serious. Normally I wouldn't mind this, but the songs never really deliver that Beardfish writing feel. The instrumentation is still incredible but they really are lacking in quality in terms of lyrics. They feel a bit too mellow down and a bit too serious, and never once do I feel they go hand in hand with the more quirky sounding songs. It definitely gives this album its own flavor, but think of it as eating two similar sandwiches with both having a different meat. One has ham on it and the other has thick roast beef. The ham one is fun and enjoyable, and so is the roast beef sandwich, but that one is less tasty than the ham sandwich. Now imagine the ham sandwich as, let's say, Sleeping In Traffic Part One, and the beef sandwich as this album. It's less fun due to the lyrics being a bit too serious for my liking in terms of talking about Beardfish. It's a little disappointing, but at least the album makes up for it with some great instrument playing, so I gotta commend it for that.

Next song is Green Waves, and this goes very hard. Back to more hard rock roots, this song tiptoes on the line in the sand from just standard Prog rock to Prog metal, which I just love. The best part is, this song is 8 minutes, so it gives you a nice amount of some heavy progressive music. This is also where the singing really shines most. While the lyrics are still a little muddy, I think Rikard Sjöblom is at his peak with this song. They just sound so intense and awesome that it goes hand in hand with the instrumentation to where every strain in his voice just feels so much more powerful, which is always appreciated with these more heavy songs.

The next song is this piano melody named Outside / Inside. This definitely feels more like a prelude of sorts, but it is pretty and gets the job done as a nice sweet break from the heavy songs that persisted up until this point, so it's pretty appreciated.

Next up is Akakabotu, an instrumental piece showcasing a more jazzy side to the music of Beardfish, very much inspired by those jazzy songs of Gentle Giant and King Crimson. I really dig this, the horns go so well with the keys and guitars that everything just works so well together, though I don't really like the extremely loud sax in the middle, that was kinda ear grating to say the least, but it only was more a few seconds so it didn't really bother me too much. Overall it is a great song that just breathes more life into this album.

Lastly is Without Saying Anything, where it also features another musician named Ventriloquist. This song feels much more in line with Beardfish's older stuff while also giving a more poetic stance on the lyrics. This is a great closing track with a bunch of great riffs and progressions, though this song feels a bit weak in terms of how it uses those riffs and progressions since they were handled much better in songs before this one since it feels like it was intended to be more at the start of the album, rather than at the end. However it does end with a beautiful piano segment that allows the album to end at a high note.

So this is a very interesting album. It has that Beardfish charm but only in terms of instrumentation, but despite that it is still very solid and has a ton of great moments to make up for its shortcomings. I see this as Beardfish's black sheep album, it's pretty interesting and delivers on all fronts, while also having its very own identity separate from other albums. I definitely recommend checking it out for a good Beardfish experience that is a little different from the rest.

Dapper~Blueberries | 4/5 |


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