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MAMMOTH

Beardfish

Eclectic Prog


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avestin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I'll start by saying that if you're a fan of Beardfish, stop reading now and just go get this album.

Unless you want to read something about how they are advancing in their musical path, how they have progressed and changed somewhat in their writing, but still sounding like a bearded fish. While the music is quite accessible, I needed several listens until the album reached me on a more emotional and personal level. This is a personal issue obviously and will vary from individual to another. However, once I "got" into it, I could enjoy the music so much more. But my point is that even prior to that emotional contact, I could very well acknowledge that this is a well done album, with clear and solid musical themes and fine execution.

This is the sixth album by this busy and talented band (they released their first album, Från En Plats Du Ej Kan Se, in 2003), and they seem to be getting better and more ambitious with each one. The band's sounds get denser, richer and fuller. There are walls of guitars and keyboards filling my ears in opener song The Platform, but this doesn't diminish the melodic line that drives this track. Actually, all the songs here have a stronger backbone in the form of the keyboards; these create a vast thick basis for the rest of the music to rely on, something that wasn't always there in prior albums. I must also point out the clarity of recording and how lovely it is to hear the efficient bass work. Moreover, Rikard's vocals seem to be better controlled here, as at times, in previous albums, he seemed to reach a little out of his range occasionally. In any case, his vocals are quite recognizable by now and they are very special and are a superb fit for this style of music. In Green Waves he takes his voice into places he's seldom used before; practically screaming in a very hard-rock manner (but not in an unpleasant way), he serves us his raw and savage side, introducing an additional layer of meaning into the lyrics.

If Epic is what you're looking for, you've got plenty of it here. Fantastic lengthy tracks with stellar instrumental sections and compelling solos of guitar and keyboards. One can hear the influence of King Crimson (Red-era) in parts of the second song, And The Stone Said". Beardfish manage to serve up epic-ness not only in long songs but also in more compact mode such as in Tightrope with its charming melody wrapped as a lovely 60s psychedelic rock package but with so much more hidden inside it. The aforementioned Green Waves is one of their most angry and savage sounding songs. Here we meet a side of Beardfish we didn't see much of previously and it's a welcome one. They unleash power here, raw intensity that is not devoid of beauty.

The tunes on Mammoth, like in their previous albums, take their influence from various rock music landscapes: hard, psychedelic, 60s etc; but to my ears they seem to know how to create music that has their own sound, while one can still hear the influences. Their identity is not lost, even though it is in debt to the past. I also have to mention the stellar instrumental piece, Akakabotu, with its heavy keyboards sound a-la Uriah Heep and cool jazzy feel, provided by the saxophone. Their interaction in the middle of the song provides for one of the most exciting songs on the album, and a classic-sounding prog-rock tune. The closing song, Without Saying Anything, shows to me again that Beardfish has a knack for writing catchy exciting songs with a melody that gets stuck in your head. But this song is more than a simple ear candy. Its intricate structure, rich layering and expansive volume are part of what makes this one of their most charming songs.

The way I hear it, Mammoth is Beardfish at its creative peak. This is an album by a band that knows what they want and know how they want to sound and know how to achieve it. Mammoth is another successful in a string of wonderful releases by this Swedish band.

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Send comments to avestin (BETA) | Report this review (#399432)
Posted Saturday, February 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 'Mammoth' - Beardfish (6/10)

While I gather that this will be an instant love for many of the fans that have been waiting to hear what Swedish prog rockers Beardfish next have in store, the band's sixth album 'Mammoth' feels a bit undeserving of its title. Although having quite enjoyed what I had heard from the band prior to this, I would not consider myself any such avid fan of the band's work, instead preferring to tread where their best work lies; being their peak double-work 'Sleeping In Traffic'. While 'Mammoth' again engages the listener in an impressive mix of vintage progressive hard rock and keen musicianship, the album lacks both the magic and edge of their greater works, resulting in something that retraces steps already taken, with the same skill but much less conviction.

Perhaps it is Beardfish getting a bit too polished for their own good, but I no longer hear the edge or grit that one could hear in the hard rock band's more successful material. While the band seems very content to use vintage equipment in their music, the production (and even some aspects of the performance) are too neatly refined to mesh well with it. Chief among these performance issues are the vocals of Rikard, who is still a great vocalist with a warm voice, but many of his cleaner parts feel as if they are far too concerned with hitting the right notes at the best possible pitches, as opposed to letting the raw emotion get through.

Although not a new issue to the band's sound (and- on that note- likely not a problem to begin with among many fans) is the fact that the band typically rests on the sound of 1970's hard rock, while tending to offer little fresh or modern to the sound. That being said, Beardfish works with this style remarkably well, and with such fifteen minute pieces as 'And The Stone Said' to boast here, parts of 'Mammoth' should do the retro-prog scene proud. Quite a few of the songs here feel a tad too derivative from their sources, although the best material on the album is quite fantastic. The piano piece 'Outside/Inside' (which seems to act as an intermission between heavier rock numbers) is an absolutely beautiful respite from the heavier songs. Then there is the instrumental 'Akakabotu', which stands as being overtly retro in nature, but throws in some charming saxophone parts and melodies to make it stand out from the rest. Then- of course- there is the fifteen minute cornerstone of 'Mammoth', 'And The Stone Said: If I Could Speak', which opens and closes with a powerful melodic lead reminiscent of Santana, before breaking into some great Hammond organ work.

Suffice to say, 'Mammoth' is indeed, a mixed bag of the great, the decent, and the mediocre. As talented a band as any other, Beardfish does the retrogressive hard rock very well, but if this album is any clue, they need to rekindle some of their organic quality they had with 'Sleeping In Traffic' to get back on par.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#401602)
Posted Wednesday, February 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars And the stone said?

Wow! What a great album by a fantastic band. Granted I have heard little of Beardfish in the past but this album was one great introduction to them. The sixth album by Beardfish is a pretty good improvement from what little I had heard from their other albums. It mixes great jazz riffs with progy backings to really add to the overall feel of the album.

One reason why I really like this album is because of the jazz elements incorporated in it. Since I myself am a jazz saxophonist the jazzy elements really make this one special. I really like how Beardfish puts little samplings of jazz tunes into their music while still mostly staying in the prog range. One song that really shows this is "And The Stone Said" which, in my opinion, is the most jazzy on the album. Besides great saxophone melodies, David Zackrisson does a great job on guitars. They blend very nicely in with the rest of the instruments on the track, providing an overall smooth and laid back feel. And, if you are looking for and epic "And The Stone Said" is a great song for you. Topping out at around 15 minutes, it sets a good tone for the whole album. In the beginning of the song the guitars are absolutely superb and are right in sync with the keyboards, which are expertly played by Rikard Sjöblom who also doubles as the vocalist. It also includes a short but noticeable section where it sounds a lot like The Beatles "Magical Mystery Tour".

Speaking of vocals this album has much to offer in that category. Rikard Sjöblom's voice plays along well with the saxophone and guitar melodies in almost all of the songs. There are just a couple of places throughout the album where his voice seems okay instead of great. Like on the track "Tightrope" where a lot of the time while he is singing there is no one playing an instrument. For his voice, I think there needs to be at least something to back him up since it makes him sound so much better. But other than "Tightrope" his voice is very good, especially on the tracks "And The Stone Said", "The Platform", and "Without Saying Anything".

The production on this album is another great highpoint that really caught my attention. It makes "Mammoth" almost sound like an early to late 70's prog recording, which is to say that it is absolutely superb in almost every way.

"Mammoth", as I said before, has a great sound and feel to it that any prog fan would enjoy. I enjoyed this one much more than a lot of recent prog releases since I am a sax player and the production is absolutely awesome. Throughout the whole album the sax, keyboards, and guitars really pop out and are showcased perfectly. For a great release, Beardfish gets 4 stars.

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Send comments to The Block (BETA) | Report this review (#404655)
Posted Monday, February 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
Rivertree
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Psych/Space Team & Band Submissions
4 stars To start with ... I dare to claim that no fear of regress is indicated. Which means they do not rehash their former material here. Well, this might be a courageous statement - because I'm only familiar with 'Sleeping In Traffic'. At least this gives me the chance to compare a bit. Reflecting their multiple rock music influences the new album 'Mammoth' provides roundabout fifty-two entertaining BEARDFISH minutes. I smell the orientation to implement heavier and even popular elements - anyhow, this band, powered by allrounder Rikard Sjöblom, is surely unpredictable and will please the fans again.

The album kicks off very promising with The Platform - the song comes lush orchestrated, a powerful start, fantastic guitars implemented. And finally they are surprising with a weird outro. If I should call up one track as BEARDFISH typical I would mention the epic And The Stone Said If I Could Speak - they are focussed on mellotron and symphonic hammond organ throughout, ELP and Kiing Crimson partially come into my mind. A song rich of diversity, busy and relaxed parts are alternating, not too complex though while including some catchy parts - and they implement saxophone too. A highlight. Sjöblom's vocals vary a lot from charming to aggressively shouting.

Deeply sinking into the terminating 60's Tightrope surprisingly provides some charming psych pop leanings where Green Waves follows as the album's heaviest cracker with a straightforward groove. Once I could see them performing when touring with The Tangent and Ritual. And I can assure that they are able to bring this energy to the stage too. A nice jamming intermezzo is remarkable on the jazzy Akakabotu which probably can be enjoyed live as an extended course. Just another song with saxophone included. The closing Without Saying Anything is presented with elemental ease then.

'Mammoth' offers fresh and inspired songs once more - however ... the manifoldly twists and turns the band is famous for in the meanwhile ... they are reduced a bit, take a backseat (exceptions prove the rule, of course). To be honest, when listening to 'Sleeping In Traffic', I'm always fascinated in some way, coupled with the impression to examine something excessive, overburdening, too much of a good thing - the main reason why I still have avoided to write a review until today. This time they take care of controlling the horses so to say. Overall this makes the particular songs more accessible ... and it's easier to focus on the haunting melodies. As for a side effect this will help to reach for some new fans. Anyway, no problem for me to say that this is an enjoyable BEARDFISH excursion.

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Send comments to Rivertree (BETA) | Report this review (#410307)
Posted Wednesday, March 02, 2011 | Review Permalink
memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This Mammoth is great!

Beardfish are a Swedish band (how prolific is that country) which have been on the prog map sine the last decade, and have received great criticism, particularly for their last three albums. However, my dear reader I must confess that this is my first experience with this band, and now I can say I was too slow, and I missed valuable time.

'Mammoth' is the name of this (2011) album and the guilty of making me explore deeper in their past repertoire, because they are a great band, believe me. This album consists on seven songs and a total time of 52 minutes of high quality progressive rock. The first track is 'The platform', an eight-minute song full of exquisite elements that create powerful music in the prog rock vein of course, do not confuse power with metal, it is far from being the same. I like the vocals, the guitars and the keyboard work on this track, all of them compose several notes and images at the same time, so the listener can be pleased.

'And the Stone said' is a fifteen-minute epic that will remain in the listeners' mind even when the album has finished, because it is a complete song that has a lot to offer. The instrumental passages are frequently my favorite ones in anyone's music, and here it is not the exception, the first minutes are pure beauty to my ears, I simply love the sound of keyboards all over the track, and how they combine their sound with the guitars and bass later. Before the third minute the rhythm changes and a new structure is being built little by little. The music almost stops at 4:30 and vocals enter, the sound now is soft and gently and it follows the same line for some minutes.

The part that starts at minute nine is pretty cool, is sounds like a new track actually with several inner mutations that make the song even more interesting. There is a moment where the bass sounds stronger and creates cool sensations, also the vocals changes a little bit and all together create an interesting sound that may please the strictest prog fan. The last two minutes are also killer, neat sound with a saxophone that reminds me a bit to VdGG. Awesome track!

After that tremendous boost of sound, we have reached the third track entitled 'Tightrope' which is a much calmer song with delicate notes, words and noises. The first minute is charming but later the song becomes a bit tense until making a short explosion, which will only take you back to a softer sound. In the last minute there is a nice but short guitar riff, accompanied by catchy vocals.

'Green Waves' has an addictive string sound that is complemented by drums and powerful vocals that create some kind of heavy prog sound. The rhythm is practically the same all time, there are not many changes as in previous tracks, however it is still a great track. I particularly enjoy the guitar work on this piece, especially in the last minutes when it makes its fantastic riffs. The next track is the shortest one, 'Outside/Inside' that lasts less than two minutes and it is like a film intermission with a cute piano sound.

'Akakabotu' is an amazing piece whose keyboards remind me to some Santana tracks. I love the saxophone sound in this track, it adds a different flavor and it is better when it sound at the same time that the keyboards, both of them create a strong sound that I love. The bass is also fantastic here, if you have good headphones you can truly appreciate it. This not so long track has several inner changes in time and tempo that show the skill of these talented members. I am weak when it is about instrumental songs, so here Beardfish succeeded with me.

The last track is 'Without Saying Anything', which starts cool with a great potential, but after a minute it absolutely changes and turns into a soft and delicate track. Actually this track suffers various changes but always return to its root, I mean it is soft later hard then soft, hard, etc. It is a pretty cool closer track, but not my favorite.

I am happy with this album, it has opened my senses and has led me to know more Beardfish, so I believe the band reached their goal with me. I recommend it for any progressive rock fan, that is why my final grade will be four stars.

Enjoy it!

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Send comments to memowakeman (BETA) | Report this review (#413108)
Posted Tuesday, March 08, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Fine musicians. When I was at their concert, I was under impression of masterly execution of complex compositions. But to my regret the new album has not pleased me. The tendency on recession is already noticed in an album ' Destined Solitaire '. But nevertheless it is not deprived grace and interesting finds. But certainly the top is an album ' Sleeping In Traffic Part 2 '.

The obvious tendency to heavy music, composition became closer to hard prog. That has not made music more beautifully. Moreover, I shall note, the band's sound became more rough, excellent Ricard's vocal is not used on 100 %. Probably, it is attempt to leave from patterns, from influence Zappa, but this not too successful decision.

Ricard's solo album much more interestingly and more musically, than ' Mammoth ', that speaks about much. A decline? Or a way to new opening?

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Send comments to Tuskarilla (BETA) | Report this review (#414890)
Posted Saturday, March 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
J-Man
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Since their inception in 2000, Beardfish has gained a reputation as one of Sweden's finest progressive rock exports - surely no small feat when one considers the shocking number of quality prog bands from the country. Mammoth lives up to (and often exceeds) the expectation that Beardfish has established for themselves in their decade-long history. This is yet another stellar effort from this great band, which should come as no surprise to their dedicated following. Whether or not this matches up to their previous efforts depends on the listener; all I know is that Mammoth is one hell of an album and a warm recommendation from this reviewer.

For those who know Beardfish, Mammoth is unquestionably their work. Expect symphonic progressive rock (in the vein of Yes) intermixed with jazzy Frank Zappa influences and hard rock-tinged riffs. Songs like "Akakabotu" show the fusion-influenced side of Beardfish - this is also a style the band also has down pat. There are also some sections where I'm reminded of Van Der Graaf Generator (maybe because of the semi-dark atmospheres with saxophone solos). Beardfish may not be the most revolutionary band out there, but they deliver their style better than most acts for sure. Every song here is a memorable prog rock tour-de-force filled with stellar musicianship across the board. In terms of musicianship, I especially have to applaud Rikard Sjöblom. His use of vintage keyboards (particularly the organ and mellotron) is simply irresistible for a keyboard freak (such as myself), and his vocal performances certainly aren't shabby either. In addition to the vintage instrumentation, the production also sounds a bit "retro" to these ears. The production is polished and professional sounding, but maintains a clean and somewhat-raw atmosphere throughout. That's how I like my symphonic prog to sound.

Beardfish has been delivering quality prog rock for over a decade now, and Mammoth is definitely another "mammoth" effort from these seasoned Swedish veterans. Fans of the band will want to make sure this gets in their collection, and people who are new to Beardfish may also want to give this a shot. Mammoth is a great album and I'm sure it'll be making its way into many "top 10" lists of 2011. 4 stars are well-deserved for this remarkable achievement.

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Send comments to J-Man (BETA) | Report this review (#424463)
Posted Tuesday, March 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
darkshade
COLLABORATOR
Jazz Rock/Fusion Team
5 stars Mammoth is right.

The sound of this band has been gradually getting heavier and bigger with every release, so it is no surprise that this album is the band's heaviest to date. I'm not saying they're metal or anything, but kind of like how King Crimson can get heavy. The album starts off with some abrasive riffing by the guitars, with lots of crazy instrumental work the band has been known for.

The biggest surprise to me, is the addition of saxophone. Alto and soprano to be exact. It add such nice color to the sound, ironically getting heavier as I previously mentioned. He's not there to just play a solo and leave, he plays a crucial part to the songs he is on, particularly the 15 minute epic "And the Stone Said: If I Could Speak:", which by the way, might be the best song on the album.

Speaking of the mentioned epic, Rikard's vocals are just great on Mammoth. He sings with such passion, more so than on previous albums; to the point of screaming. It is all done tastefully, and he sings some beautiful lines.

As far as the rest of the band goes, everyone plays solid, especially Rikard. The guitars are louder than ever, but the bass is still heard. In fact, the bass stands out to me more than before. He plays some cool things, and of course holds everything together.

Some say the quirkiness Beardfish are known for is lacking, but I say it is the natural progression of their sound that is moving away from it. Any band I know that had quirkiness in their music eventually moved on from it, and there is nothing you can do; quirky music can get tiresome after a while.

All in all, this is a great record from a great band. I saw this album coming from miles away. Even at the point of Sleeping In Traffic part 2 the band were moving in the direction that this album has landed on. This album makes me excited to hear where the band will go next. If you enjoy quality modern prog with an edge, great vocals, strong instrumental interplay mixed with good songwriting, and none of that retro-prog (a Hammond organ does not automatically make a prog band retro), then this album is definitely for you. I cannot get enough of this album!

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Send comments to darkshade (BETA) | Report this review (#424470)
Posted Tuesday, March 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Mammoth is my first introduction to the odd genius that is Beardfish. Listing to it all, I hear snippets that remind me at times of other acts within the progressive rock/metal genre: the poetic (at times) vocals are reminiscent of Jethro Tull, their more grand songs remind me of Dream Theater (especially their Scenes From A Memory Album), meanwhile the more rockin' songs sound like something from the 90s rock n' roll scene - with just a touch of power through layered vocals and guitars. It all flows and balances together very well.

In several of the reviews/comments about the band I saw a connection of style between Beardfish and acts like Yes and Genesis, but I don't hear it. Maybe their other albums hit upon this more, but Mammoth is of a much more modern prog style. It's not as crazy or outlandish as some of the new prog acts out there (Read: djent bands), but it is a superb look into the possibilities of what musicians can do.

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Send comments to The Klepto (BETA) | Report this review (#425730)
Posted Thursday, March 31, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars BEARDFISH is a Swedish Progressive Rock band leaded by the mastermind multi-instrumentist Rikard Sjöblom (GUNGFLY, BOOTCUT) and have a huge influence of 70's progressive rock and bands like THE FLOWER KINGS, YES, GENESIS and RUSH. I must say that these guys are doing something rarely seeing those days, they're bringing the very first progressive rock elements to 2000 era. All the features that create the identity of progressive rock are in their albums, and not only that, they make a good use of instruments such like accordion, flute, saxophone and many more. BEARDFISH, for sure, is a very underrated band, once they're just getting knowed outside of Sweden after the "Mammoth" release. By the way, "Mammoth" establish BEARDFISH as one of the finest Swedish Progressive Rock band from this decade. Great musicians, poetic lyrics, complex compositions and great instrumental. Go listen to their discography!

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Send comments to brunomonteiro (BETA) | Report this review (#427594)
Posted Monday, April 04, 2011 | Review Permalink
colorofmoney91
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Mammoth is another Beardfish album that I'm on the fence with. There is decently strong material here as well as weak material. After hearing it, I immediately knew that "The Platform" was a song that I really didn't enjoy. It has interesting moments, particularly within the beginning, but the rest of the track has a very tired and boring sound. They've started to regress in their ability to write nice melodies. However, "And the Stone Said: If I Could Speak" is one very fine track on this album that does contain the very Beardfish-type dark melodies that initially drew me to this band. The composition is great, and manages to be long while being interesting. "Tightrope" is a slightly poppy song with one of the best melodies by Beardfish in recent memory. The only other track that became of interest to me was the jazzy King Crimson inspired saxophone dominated track "Akakabotu" which is fantastic. Very mellow parts intertwine with energetic passages, and all of the musicianship on this track is superb. I recommend this to Beardfish fans even though the remaining tracks seem like throwaways in my opinion.

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Send comments to colorofmoney91 (BETA) | Report this review (#431116)
Posted Monday, April 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
4 stars I'd like to say that this album is a masterpiece. I've listened to it over and over again for weeks, and while I love it when I'm listening to it, when it's over it doesn't stick with me. I can't say why that is, but that is what happens. It's still a great album.

The opener, The Platform is a wonderful piece of heavy prog, that seems to draw from a variety of hard rock influences. And The Stone Said "If I Could Speak is a more traditional symphonic prog song, and at just over fifteen minutes, the longest song on the album. When the vocals finally come in, they remind me a bit of a Porcupine Tree song (I can't remember which).

Tightrope, aside from the vocals, reminds me of classic Moody Blues. Green Waves brings back the heavy prog sound. But for the vocals, this could be a Rush tune okay - it would need a more complex bass line, too). Outside / Inside is a short solo piano piece, and it feels quite out of place. But Akakabotu brings things back into like, with heavy organ trading off with Canterbury sounding horns.

Without Saying Anything is an excellent closer, another symphonic prog piece with moments of heaviness.

At some point, I may find the time to watch the bonuc DVD that came with the CD and add it to this review, but the music alone is enough to award four stars.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#435038)
Posted Sunday, April 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars Mammoth is the sixth studio release from Swedish band Beardfish. I've held back reviewing this album for a few weeks now on the assumption it would be a grower like their last album, Destined Solitaire. To an extent this is true and before I go further I'll start by saying that Mammoth is a good album, even very good in places with moments of excellence.

On the surface this may appear as business as usual for Beardfish and the band still retain their seventies sound with Rikard Sjoblom's distinctive organ well to the fore, his easily recognisable vocal work, David Zackrisson's guitar skilfully weaving between the twists and turns of Robert Hansen and Magnus Östgren's rhythm section, which incidently has got quite a bit more complex over recent years. In fact not surprisingly the band has grown on the whole as musicians. In the process though it has to be said that Beardfish have lost a bit of that quirky charm that pervaded their albums up until let's say Sleeping In Traffic part 2. Yes Beardfish's music is a lot more complex these days, heavier and darker too, the seeds of this being sown on Destined Solitaire.

I can't really pick fault with Mammoth other than to say I don't enjoy it as much as most of their preceding albums. The melodies aren't as insistent, even after repeated plays, the exception being closing track Without Saying Anything and Tightrope which reminds me more of the old Beardfish. There's always been a bit of Zappa in Beardfish, usually in the humorous elements but here it's more on a musical level. Perhaps it's the sax that appears in some of the instrumental work reminding me of Hot Rats.

Highlights apart from the already mentioned Without Saying Anything include opener The Platform which after a heavy opening drifts into more familiar quintessential territory when Sjoblom's vocals come in where the music has space to beathe before returning to heavier parts. And The Stone Said If I Could Speak at fifteen minutes is thankfully another highpoint. Beginning with an extended instrumental workout until Sjoblom's soft vocal tones bring things down a few notches, it's a complex piece of many parts which after a few plays really reveals itself as a highly enjoyable and dynamic track.

Overall then another worthy addition to the bands discography and despite my personal preference for older albums is unlikely to displease any old fans and might even make them a few new ones along the way. Worth getting incidently is the version with the bonus DVD which includes an excellent live performance from the band while on tour supporting Pain Of Salvation. 3 ½ stars.

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Send comments to Nightfly (BETA) | Report this review (#436544)
Posted Thursday, April 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
5 stars The power of music!

Beardfish's "Mammoth" was just the album I was looking for to soak my sorrows into with it's downbeat lyrics and desperate thematic content. The words seemed to speak right into my soul and the music is so brilliantly executed that it somehow lifted my spirits and I could feel chills running over me as those instrumental passages and clean vocals rose and soared into the stratosphere. The music is always uplifting, a stark contrast to the bleak lyrics, with only the slightest ray of hope, such as in the opening track; "Wait a while with me, a lost soul among thousands, waiting at a platform for a train that never comes, There are no signs that this life is even life anymore, and there is no train, no one will show, no whistle will blow so I shall sing instead ,I'll keep on singing". The opening track absolutely floored me with its amazing complex time sig and wonderful atmospheric soundscape of guitars and keyboards. 'The Platform' is 8 minutes of solid gold prog with all the trimmings, odd meters, chord structures and blistering solos. The lyrics are a key feature: 'In this frozen white wasteland, I'm bound to wait forever, You left me here when I was just a child, No matter where I walk, I find myself back in the same old spot, Where no sun will ever shine, Save me from myself, my thoughts are a mess, When I think of you it strikes a nerve within,I can't separate love from hate. Save me".

'And The Stone Said: If I Could Speak' is a delicious 15 minute music fest of grinding retro keyboards and tensions of light passages of clean guitar augmented by gentle emotional vocals by Rikard Sjöblom. The lyrics again are beautifully written with some melancholy thoughts mixed with a dark undertone of desperation; "I was alone and it was night, I had nobody else to turn to, but the voices talking to me from afar, and with endearing words so silent, they told me the secret about who you really are, A million images and words, long since forgotten, of events that no one ever saw, I hear a whimper as I kneel, realizing that it's your pain that I feel, In this house of worship I'm a stone." The guitar break is excellent speaking volumes of the emotional content of the verses. The song builds till we hear a delightful saxophone that soars over the music. The beat gets heavier and the vocals more aggressive and draws me deeper into the melancholia. Without warning the whole song detours into a King Crimson like polyphonic time sig. The Hammond solo is unbelievably power, and there are even death metal vocals under the section, "A wooden banister, a bridge and a vast stone wall up ahead, I cross the bridge and hear the voices and they're speaking of the dead." The high clean vocals are quick tempo in later verses and the song has completely changed at this point. The melody is excellent and this is as good as prog gets in an epic format. The theme centres on if walls could speak, the stories would be blood soaked stories; "I am every stone on earth, everything is recorded in me, But I'm not to interfere, Just continue to act as if I'm not here, I don't care for love or hate, And I know there is no such thing as fate, No greater power will punish your mistakes, Your acts are out of your own free will." A blockbuster on the album, this is one track you should hear to experience the best of Beardfish.

'Tightrope' is rather subdued after the chaos of the previous track. The pace is moderate with melodic guitars. The vocals are crystalline and passionate; "I walk the tightrope, and tell you I love you, Even if you don't, Even if you don't, I'll say the words that I long to hear, I hold you so dear." The melody is delicate and it is rather short compared to rest of album tracks but no less powerful. There is an atmospheric section of echoes and guitar blasts and the pace changes tempo, and a flute lends an ambience to the sound towards the end.

'Green Waves' is a brilliant track that begins with wave effects and a strong guitar riff, with screeching vocals. The music is heavy at first, with some grinding distortion and awesome riffing. The first lead break is one of the best on the album and then the next verse punctuates the theme of dreams and longing. The lyrics command attention, namely; "Dreaming of heroics in the deep, but this is not my sleep, I know your secrets and your past, My words shall echo last, I think I was 12 years old, when I realized I wasn't immortal, And now in this world of green waves, it's all coming back to me." I love the way the lyrics are structured, from loud cries of anguish to a soft melancholy; "I've been here before, I remember a storm, Beating deep inside my soul, The sea, she once was my friend, and now she's claiming me, I'm falling". The track is a definitive highlight on the album and is definitely heavier than previous songs, due primarily to the guitar work of David Zackrisson. The guitar driven song stands out among other tracks, and there is even a series of very emotional guitar solos towards the end of the song.

'Outside/ Inside' is a piano interlude by Rikard Sjöblom and is very pretty and is really a transition point between the rocking previous track and the next. It kind of allows the mood to come down again after the heaviness of 'Green Waves'.

'Akakabotu' is an instrumental that begins with grinding Hammond staccato blasts reminding me of Emerson. The sax is back and as brilliantly played as earlier. The jazz fusion feel is compelling and is decidedly different than other tracks contained on the album. The sax builds t a ferocious blistering solo over the crunches of Rikard Sjöblom' shimmering organ. This is a fantastic piece of music with intense musicianship of the highest quality.

It ends on a strange song called 'Without Saying Anything (feat. Ventriloquist)', with quiet vocals and some unusual structures. The organic music flows lucidly from dark to light, tension and release, and features some incredible drumming from Magnus Östgren and as always, Robert Hansen provides essential basslines. Te keyboards are pronounced and uplifting. There is a break in the music with some minimalist piano. Then a quiet guitar follows, building with synth passages, and an odd time sig. The ventriloquist enters at this point of the song and the lyrics are rather profound asking deep questions that may sum up the whole song; "Were we born to blindly follow? To never ever ask why? It seems dangerous to indoctrinate, a daily dose of hate, Who's your prophet, when you're marching off to war? Don't believe you're doing it for him, Think about where the orders came from."

Thus ends a superb album, one of the best for 2011. Beardfish deliver with quality musicianship and well structured tracks. All killer, no filler, this really is a 'Mammoth' album. The vocals are excellent throughout, and the lyrics are compelling with themes covered that struck a chord with me. I was delighted from beginning to end, and on every listen the music retains its power. "Mammoth" is essential listening.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#451666)
Posted Tuesday, May 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars A beautiful Mammoth!

Mammoth is the 6th album by Swedish band Beardfish. I have followed this band since their 2008 album "Sleeping in Traffic: Part II", and I have always liked them a great deal. But I think that with Mammoth Beardfish have reached a new high point - this is close to perfection, as far as I am concerned. Yes, the music is heavier than in previous albums - there is plenty of heavy guitar riffing here and the singing too has become edgier and more powerful (to the point of even including some growling on "And the Stone Said ..." courtesy of guest singer Jimmy Joensson). But this works incredibly well - some of the guitar riffs are simply mesmerizing (check out the guitar parts on the opener "The Platform", for example), and Rikard Sjoeblom proves that he can be a hell of a hard-rock singer if he wishes so. Moreover, albeit heavier, the music is still extremely melodic and tasteful, in traditional Beardfish style. Another pleasant surprise for me is that on Mammoth Beardfish seem to have learned to control their tendency to use a sort of 'everything-but-the-kitchen-sink' approach to music. In previous albums these four guys sometimes seemed to just throw into their songs everything that passed through their mind, saloon music and cabaret moments included. I've always found this slightly distracting. The approach used on Mammoth is instead much more focused and contained, which works to their advantage in my opinion.

It's hard to pick a highlight here - all 7 songs on Mammoth are top-notch quality and there is no weak moment on the whole album. My personal favourites are probably the wonderfully complex "And the Stone Said ...", the mellower "Tightrope" and the instrumental "Akakabotu", with its wonderful keyboard work and the excellent sax solos provided by guest musician Johan Holm.

Highly recommended!

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Send comments to lukretio (BETA) | Report this review (#466766)
Posted Wednesday, June 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
VanVanVan
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Overall this is a very interesting album. One of Beardfish's best composed albums, it nevertheless fails to capture the atmosphere that made Sleeping In Traffic, Pt. 2 so great. That's my opinion anyway.

With that said and out of the way, this is still a great album. It has a lot in common with their previous album, Destined Solitaire, but this one is a bit tighter and about 20 minutes shorter. The heavier touches that appeared on DS are back, with the opening track "The Platform" sounding almost like a prog-metal track in parts. "And the Stone Said: If I Could Speak" is probably the highlight of the album for me, with a killer opening melodic line that gets built upon until the song switches motifs and the vocals enter. From there, the song goes through various themes, including another almost-prog-metal moment at about 10 minutes in.

Other highlights for me include "Akakabotu," a very good instrumental and one of the mellower points on the album, and the closer, "Without Saying Anything" which fits very well as the finale of the album. The rest of the tracks are very good as well, they're just not as memorable or impressive as those mentioned.

A really solid Beardfish album which is probably my second favorite of those I've heard (both parts of SiT and Destined Solitaire), and falls just short of their masterpiece "Sleeping in Traffic pt. 2" while definitely succeeding as a follow up to Destined Solitaire. I do feel that this album deserves more than just 4 stars, but I can't give it the full 5.

4.25/5

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Send comments to VanVanVan (BETA) | Report this review (#469635)
Posted Saturday, June 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
m2thek
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The Swedish band, Beardfish, is one of the modern age's most beloved prog bands. Though they're previous four albums had been released successively year after year, here we have the band releasing their sixth album, Mammoth, two years after their last. Even though this is my first experience with Beardfish, I really enjoyed Mammoth, and it's one of the best of 2011 that I've heard so far.

One of the only things I knew about Beardfish going into Mammoth is that they have a reputation for being a retro prog band. While I don't like to lump bands into such broad groups as that, it's really something that Beardfish can't get away from on this album. The production values and range of keyboards used give a very 70s feel, though this is countered by a heavier side to the music that approaches metal at times. Regardless of what era this is evocative of doesn't matter that much in the end, because that's not what makes Mammoth such a good album.

What does make it a success is the strength of the instrumentation, and the composition. The range of instruments is not very wide, with the most exotic being saxophone on two tracks, and the others covering the basics of prog. It's how they're used, however, that keep the album interesting all the way through. The handful of longer instrumental sections are great, featuring exciting interplay between guitar and organ, fast guitar solos, and the occasional screaming sax. Every instrument is used pretty evenly, and each one has its fair share of highlights, with the rarer sax being my personal favorite. What pushes it to the next level though, is that the instrumentation is kept interesting at all times. During vocal sections, the harmonies underneath are constantly making subtle changes, with the bass in particular always being a treat to listen to. This is especially effective during sections that would normally be so-so, but are made fun and held my attention by little organ runs in the background, or bass lines reprising earlier melodies.

The composition, in addition to the strength of the instruments, is also very well done, with the 15 minute epic being particularly strong. It has a great main melody, and an extremely exciting five minute introduction. The rest of the song weaves through verses and short breaks, until a very satisfactory reprise of the theme to close it out. While this is the strongest song on the album, the shorter songs hold their own as well. The less complex ones are, again, entertaining for small instrumental touches, and there are a couple short but very dense songs. They cover a range of sounds from soft and whimsical, to heavy and evil sounding. The number of tracks and length of the album overall are perfect, and by the time it ends you're left wanting just a bit more. It also helps that the final trio of songs all lead into one another, and rise in intensity, making for a pretty satisfying conclusion.

While everything to do with the instruments is usually quite strong, the vocals are really the only major blemish. Sung in English with a slight accent, they are generally pretty hit or miss. They never reach amazing heights or awful lows, but rather swim around in between. The softer sung sections are generally more pleasant to listen to, but the more intense vocals get a little shrill and annoying. If the singing had been stronger, every song would be bumped up in quality a little bit, but as it stands, they mostly provide a changeup from the instrumental sections and give you something to wait for. The transitions into and out of vocal sections are notable, however, and are usually pretty impressive for how smoothly everything happens.

Even with vocals that are just OK, every song is compelling, and there are very little low points along the way. The strength of every instrument coming together is more than enough to compensate, and evens everything out in the end. While it's not perfect nor the most original sounding album, Mammoth is a great release this year, and how could you say no to that sad guy on the cover?

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Send comments to m2thek (BETA) | Report this review (#477985)
Posted Thursday, July 07, 2011 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars I must admit I am completely smitten with this album. I've been a fan of these Swedes for a long time now and enjoy their sense of humour and lights out instrumental work.Yes the vocals are great too.The previous album was excellent but I had some issues with it. Well lets just say that I have no issues or complaints about "Mammoth" and rate it right up there with "Sleeping In Traffic Part II".This has simply been a joy to listen to instrumentally, especially the guitar which I find so inventive this time around. I just think that the bottom line is that BEARDFISH are an extremely talented bunch of guys and the sky really is the limit for them.

"The Platform" is a great way to start with the dual guitars as the drums and bass join in. Love the tone of the guitar before a minute.Vocals after 1 1/2 minutes as it settles in. Check out the guitar after 5 1/2 minutes. It ends in a haunting way. Amazing tune ! "And The Stone Said : If I Could Speak" sounds so good early on. Where to begin ? The instrumental display to start is incredible. It settles back 3 1/2 minutes in as mellotron, drums, bass and keys standout. Reserved vocals after 4 1/2 minutes. Sax before 8 minutes then it kicks in before 10 minutes. Love the instrumental section after 11 minutes. Sax after 14 minutes. Check out the organ to end it.

"Tightrope" is fairly normal sounding as we get reserved vocals and a laid back sound. I like when it changes after 1 1/2 minutes.The guitar leads before 2 1/2 minutes briefly then back to that opening soundscape. "Green Waves" has a nice heavy intro and the vocals come in before a minute and they are aggressive.The guitar sounds great after 3 1/2 minutes and after 5 1/2 minutes and 7 minutes. "Outside / Inside" is a short piano piece.

"Akakabota" has a good heavy rhythm as some nasty organ joins in. It settles back with sax as they trade off. Chunky bass before 2 minutes then ripping organ 4 minutes in. "Without Saying Anything (Featuring Ventriloquist)" is uptempo to start then it starts to settle down as the vocals join in. Huge bass after 1 1/2 minutes then the tempo picks up as the vocals continue. Piano only 5 minutes in as drums and bass join in as it picks back up with keys.Vocals 6 minutes in.

I can't give less than 5 stars for this album.They've raised the stakes folks.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#489871)
Posted Sunday, July 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Sure this is one my favourite release in 2011. This band keeps on satisfying me with each new release of elegant and blissful assortment of songs.

Again, the musicianship is superb and really balanced, though really the guitar and voice textures get the richest heights.

The Platform opens the album with an intricate guitar work and very solid rhythm section, in the sort of heavy prog so dynamic and intrincate as this band is used to.

With the epic And The Stone Said: If I Could Speak the band delivers its arsenal of influences and songwriting mastery, with a delightful vocal and lyrical performance, 15 minutes of never boring shifts and melodies, so warm and meaningful.

Tightrope balance the epic vibe of the previous track with a softer and mellower interplay, though at the middle it gets really tricky and gets wonderfully dinamyc with great rhythm and melodical hooks. Really great choice to put this theme in this place of the album!

Green Waves is another highlight for me, being this the heaviest piece along with the opener track. This one has some kind of somber and sinister atmosphere, with the really haunting and grunty vocals. The instrumental sections are superb balanced but has a good bunch of brilliant crunchy guitar riffs. The chorus part is awesome. Outside/Inside gives the listener some fresh air with a classical piano pieces as Akakabotu is reached. This one is another example of the band's versatility. Some jazzy feel is included in this organ driven song, full of marvellous sax soloing and wonderful songwriting.

This passionate effort ends with my favourite song, Without Saying Anything. Its killer guitar riff sorround by piano arpeggios sounds as main tone in my phone since the very first time I listened to it. I find this song as a magical thing, the songwriting is superb and the chorus and main riff gives me the chills.

This album is never broing, it flows and shines so well, so exciting that I can't give it no less than 5 stars.

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Send comments to migue091 (BETA) | Report this review (#490092)
Posted Monday, July 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I love this album very much and due to hectic workload when I received the CD couple of months ago, I still did not have a luxury to review the album in an appropriate manner. So I kept it playing at my iPod as well as CD player with no plan to write a review yet until today when I have another chance to spin the album in its entirety. The whole album is definitely a very nice one and while I listened to it, there were nuances of Gentle Giant even though Beardfish music is quite original in style.

The beauty of the album lies on its unique style of the music when basically it's not an easy one to digest at first spin, it has to be spun many times and it would grow steadily and once it's accepted it would stay there eternally. So is the case with me when I pun the album I like it right away and in fact I replay the whole album again. The melody of each track in the album sounds different from one track to another. However, all of them, combined together, sound so cohesive and like listening to one long track comprising seven movements / parts. The harmonies among instruments and vocal line throughout the album are excellent; they sound like moving into different direction but altogether create good harmonies. There are complexities as the music flow from one track to another. At longest track .And The Stone Said: If I Could Speak' (15:07) there are balanced combination of complex arrangements as well as simple ones. There are excellent tempo and style changes between one segment to another with smooth transition pieces - some of them have abrupt changes.

I am convinced that Beardfish would maintain their music direction like this albu and they have been consistent with it as the previous albums demonstrated as well. It's an excellent addition to any prog music collection. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#546938)
Posted Sunday, October 09, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars My first ever exposure to Beardfish, although I have just eaten a cod for dinner.

The similarities of a cod dinner and Beardfish music is that both are colourful and both is aquired taste. It took me thirty years to fall in love with cod dinners. I do not think it will take that long to fall in love with the creative outputs from Beardfish though. Their music is very charming.

The music on Mammoth is deeply rooted in what we in ProgArchives has labelled proto-prog. Mammoth is indeed a proto-prog album. The music is spacey, heavy, rhythm'n'soul aka Tamla Motown, hippie and very 1960s. Only the sound tells us that we are in 2011, or 2010 when this album was recorded. The heavy accented English vocals is also charming. These vocals is actually a big plus for the music here. A music as tilting weirdo as the tilting tower in Pisa.

Although I really like the sound and most of the music here, the album does not really have any superb melodies or even melody lines. It trundles along nicely without really kicking into gear. But this album is still a good album and brings a smile to my face. I really like it despite of it's shortcomings. An order for more Beardfish albums has been made.

3.25 stars

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Send comments to toroddfuglesteg (BETA) | Report this review (#564253)
Posted Tuesday, November 08, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Beardfish occupies a genre of resurgent 70s music that as a fanatic of that era, I am more than happy to accept. While my first (And most beloved) exposure to this movement was the Sabbath/Purple/Beatles inspired band Bigelf, Beardfish comes with an equally strange name and a tone befitting of traditional prog like Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, and Jethro Tull.

Mammoth clocks in with 7 tracks totaling 7 minutes, ranging from less than 2 minutes, to more than 15 in length. The overall palette of sounds is a more positive-ish, 70s technical accented in parts, especially And the stone said if I could speak by the saxophone. The organ presence is also obvious and constant, as it should be.

It's important to remember about Beardfish that they are not mere imitators, and that there is a huge divide between them and simple cover bands. While in particular the presence and use of the organ is reminiscent of an era long past, Beardfish treads grounds that their forefathers did not. The early 70s is more than a technical style guide, and encompasses a certain type of approach. There is a duality of listener engagement with catchy melody that has been grossly absent in music since popular music and more intensive listening music went their separate ways in the 80s. Short of committing blaspheme on the era that was responsible for giants like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, there was quite a bit to be learned in the last 40 years, and Beardfish has not been ignorant. In fact, and I take a great risk of personal standard in saying this, they have in many ways improved on the past, instead of the typical trend of simply rejecting the past in favor of getting something ELSE wrong.

Short of a few remarkable exceptions, many classic albums had heavily flawed songs, or things that in hindsight were mistakes. Black Sabbath recorded "Fluff", and somewhere along the way, Ian Anderson never got the message that sometimes, true masterpieces took time, choosing instead to crunch out half brilliant albums at a rapid pace that were drowned in the other half of mediocrity and filler. Beardfish, while keeping a steady release schedule (The liner notes actually apologize for the record taking "A bit longer than usual", which was a 2 year gap from their last release in 2009), manage to put together 7 strong outings in Mammoth.

Beardfish are certainly worthy of the associations that their music suggests, and a healthy reminder that not all good things have to end.

Dagg's rating: 4.25/5

Read this and more at www.blackwindmetal.com

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Send comments to Daggor (BETA) | Report this review (#568983)
Posted Wednesday, November 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Beardfish can be described as often quirky, retro eclectic prog band, with ingredients of pop, heavy, psychedelic, jazz, soul, traditional music and plain old boogie. Lately they have habit of introducing dark metal elements, but still do it in a decidedly unmodern way, sounding most inspired by Black Sabbath. Like fellow Swedes Flower Kings, Moon Safari and others, Beardfish are prone to gigantomania. Mammoth is their most compact album, six proper songs, diverse ones, and with as little filler as possible, is my favorite. Two heavy tunes, a bombastic epic, an ethnic jazzy/heavy instrumental, a foray into a sort of psychedelic disco, and, to conclude, a sing-a-long-fest with a surprisingly somber ending.

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Send comments to Progrussia (BETA) | Report this review (#1070439)
Posted Friday, November 01, 2013 | Review Permalink

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