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BEARDFISH

Eclectic Prog • Sweden


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Beardfish biography
Formed in 2001 in Gävle, Sweden - Disbanded in 2016

Beardfish were formed by guitarist David Zackrisson and singer, guitarist, keyboardist Rikard SJÖBLOM. The group includes bassist Robert Hansen and drummer Magnus Östgren. The first album was recorded as a quintet with Stefan Aronsson on keyboards and flute. Their primary influences are a diverse range of Zappa, King Crimson, and Gentle Giant.

To date they have released two albums, both are highly recommended. The first 'Från En Plats Du Ej Kan Se...' runs the gammet from great epics, brash hard prog, with some tasty flute and mellotron thrown in. Their second album The Sane Day is a more ambitious outing.. this time down to a four piece with Rikard taking keyboard duties. A 'double' album released 2005 that might be seen a conceptual, though they deny it. The growth in the group musically is apparent, and is a good album

The group should be checked out by anyone looking for a good solid modern Art Rock group. If you have the chance.. see this group live. Ask anyone in attendance in Chapel Hill on ProgDay06, they stole the show. They will grab you and not let go. Strongly recommended.

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BEARDFISH discography


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BEARDFISH top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.60 | 180 ratings
Från En Plats Du Ej Kan Se
2003
3.95 | 274 ratings
The Sane Day
2005
4.06 | 508 ratings
Sleeping in Traffic - Part One
2007
4.18 | 728 ratings
Sleeping in Traffic - Part Two
2008
3.98 | 460 ratings
Destined Solitaire
2009
3.99 | 616 ratings
Mammoth
2011
3.86 | 435 ratings
The Void
2012
4.04 | 491 ratings
+4626 - Comfortzone
2015

BEARDFISH Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

BEARDFISH Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

BEARDFISH Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.67 | 9 ratings
Original Album Collection
2016

BEARDFISH Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

BEARDFISH Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 +4626 - Comfortzone by BEARDFISH album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.04 | 491 ratings

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+4626 - Comfortzone
Beardfish Eclectic Prog

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

5 stars I recently got into the music of Beardfish and I'm quite surprised by the lack of attention this final album has gotten. The mixture of styles on this album is just great, as well as the natural recording sound. You can hear endless references to groups in these track; both from the progressive rock (King Crimson, Supertramp, Gentle Giant) and heavy metal tradition (Blue Oyster Cult, Voivod, Thin Lizzy). The album does not feature those very heavy gritty metal songs of 'The Void', of which I can understand the controversy among fans. The album is however heavy, gritty and punchy enough to distinguish itself from other retro-prog groups. An all over the place retro-prog-metal track like 'Daughter / Whore' is great fun. The title track 'Comfortzone' is a great moody piece that evokes some King Crimson with a great thick Fripp-style melodic lead guitar. The brilliant main vocal melody helps to give this album a 'classic' feel. 'The One Inside'-parts evoke a Kansas type melodic feel ('Dust in the Wind') without any cheesiness. 'If We Must Be Apart' is a fifteen minute epic that is what you'd expect from Beardfish; a mash-up of all their progressive influences, yet no re-arrangement of known prog clich's. Its actually quite accessible as well. 'Ode to the Rock 'N' Roller' is the mandatory not-so-great song that every Beardfish seems to have, but since the first three sides of the 2LP are simply great I'm still left with enough album to call essential.
 Mammoth by BEARDFISH album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.99 | 616 ratings

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Mammoth
Beardfish Eclectic Prog

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I recently acquired a vinyl copy of Beardfish' 'Comfort Zone' album (review will follow) and I've been digging into their discography (backwards). I havent' heard a single note of anything Beardfish recorded before 'Mammoth', but I'm quite impressed by these heavy and gritty retro-prog albums full of influences of stoner/grunge and prog bands like Gentle Giant, Captain Beyond, Zappa and King Crimson. On 'Mammoth' the band has created a unique sound with much detail in different types of fuzzy guitar and analogue sounding keyboards (they have a natural feel in the mix). Bass and drums are raw and pumping. All this adds to the feel of listening to a real band of sweaty guys performing music, in stead of listening to a studio-polished and overthought 'production'. This distinguishes the band from other Scandinavian groups like The Flower Kings. The band doesn't shy away from a little humor, but the music stays on point and kind of cool in a nineties grunge/alternative rock type of way. The fifteen minute piece 'And The Stone Said: If I Could Speak' is the centerpiece of the album and what's not to love about this basement grunge version of Gentle Giant? 'Tightrope' is a light song in the humorous Mothers of Invention mood, but it doesn't sound like an imitation because of - again - the gritty and spontaneous sound of Beardfish. 'Green Waves' is another heavy song with alternative leanings and grungy vocals. It reminds me a bit of the later Pain of Salvation. 'Akakabotu' is an instrumental track full of retro style organ jazz prog. The added sax of Johan Holm is great throughout. The final track 'Without Saying Anything' seems a bit superfluous, which is probably because of the fact that is doesn't have its own unique take on something - like all other tracks have. This album is ideally suited for many things; a naturally recorded album for fans of vintage prog. An entry into eclectic prog for metal fans. An energy boost for those who are tired of listening to low energy prog. Beardfish is quickly becoming one my favorite groups I discovered in 2020.
 Sleeping in Traffic - Part Two by BEARDFISH album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.18 | 728 ratings

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Sleeping in Traffic - Part Two
Beardfish Eclectic Prog

Review by Homotopy

2 stars The hallmark of a top-level album is its tendency to age well, unfolding more and more with each listen. Best releases out there are evergrowing, and, accordingly, the positive experience grows as one increases the amount of attention given to the music. Alas, more often than not the trend is the opposite of that.

By the moment of the first attentive listen I had already listened to the eponymous epic 10 times on background, and that actually made for a good time. But that actual moment was when utter disappointment came. The macrostructure of the song is what I always hated as it's just a bunch of unconnected tracks the band doesn't seem to have even tried to glue together, but a closer look brings even more questions regarding the songwriting on the album. The formula the band sticks to is as stupid and regular as possible: 1. take (simple) melodic phrase 2. repeat it exactly 4 times 3. go back to point 1. Once noticed that, you can't escape from this pattern chasing you throughout Beardfish's music in general and especially here, especially on the main track of the release discussed. You can effectively predict 75% of the music on the first listen! Does this at least create some natural musical flow, sound well, organic? To each their own, but that's a big fat "NO" from me. The music feels rather like a rehearsal, and the more carefully I listen to this, the more awkward it feels. It's also unjustifiably minimalistic, creating an impression of a bunch of thin and discontinuous melodic lines thrown on a huge white canvas. While, on top of that, not being particularly catchy or fresh, lacking any tension and climaxes and meandering aimlessly, the music leaves pretty much nothing good to say about it.

This jeremiad was sponsored by the longest song, but my words in fact apply to the large part of the album. Shorter songs show less terrible approach but at the same time are harder to get into as the "epic" is at least (mildly) catchy. It's startling that this album might be the most high-rated among the ones of its scale and proportions.

2.5 stars. Try this if you want background music that's hard to listen to. Or better check out "Destined Solitaire" or "Friendship", the latest Rikard Sjöblom's release.

 Mammoth by BEARDFISH album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.99 | 616 ratings

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Mammoth
Beardfish Eclectic Prog

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars Another chewy album by Beardfish, feeling less retro than previous efforts.

"The platform" has a special and expressive snare drum sound. "And The Stone Said: If I Could Speak" is a long and solid piece of 15-minute music. But wait - can you hear that beautiful saxophone solo and tasty genuine Hammond chords? They are abruptly interrupted by modern synth and then prog-metal attack. "Green Waves" is one of the heaviest numbers on the album with heavy riffing and drumming and intensive vocals. The melody is quite simple. "Akakabotu" brings us back to 70's with a touch of Canterbury and Camel. Dominating instruments are saxophone, Hammond and very audible bass guitar.

Overall, there are average and above-average tracks but the album does not reach the quality of "Destined Solitaire" or previous albums but is better than the swan album by Beardfish.

 Destined Solitaire by BEARDFISH album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.98 | 460 ratings

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Destined Solitaire
Beardfish Eclectic Prog

Review by sgtpepper

5 stars Another excellent output by this talented Swedish band. The first composition is an excellent moody instrumental workout led by keyboards. The band is not ashamed to display the vast array of influences ranging from the 70's (Frank Zappa, King Crimson, Genesis, Kansas) to more modern bands such as Opeth. "Destined Solitaire" has even short growling vocals imitating Mikael Akerfeldt. It is really an eclectic 11-minute dynamic composition. The Opeth influence is broadened by acoustic guitars and whispered vocals a la Morningrise from 1996. The epic "Until you comply..." has cleverly composed parts with references to Frank Zappa. " Coup De Grâce (or How I Was Killed By An Accordion - Motown Style)" is another creative song dominated by accordion and hammond with semi French style and then proceeding to slow heavy rhythm. There are many clever moments that you simply have to listen to the entire album and enjoy every second of it.
 Sleeping in Traffic - Part One by BEARDFISH album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.06 | 508 ratings

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Sleeping in Traffic - Part One
Beardfish Eclectic Prog

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars A high quality album by Beardfish, more focused than their second effort and full of creativity. The guitar playing is not virtuoso but creative and set of keyboard sounds is really huge. Drumming is consistent although perhaps instrumentally the weakest element of the sound. The voice is equally powerful and emotional. Instrumental passages are real highlights that demonstrate band coherence. Melodies are well thought out.

"Rouelette" offers interesting harmonica sound and dynamic rhythm changes. Ballads or let's call them melancholic songs are represented by "Dark poet" with emotional vocal and piano notes. "Harmony" has a very retro Hammond organ lines and sound. The composition thus has a slight soul touch marked by the passionate vocals and mighty organ. "The ungodly snob" is a keyboard tour-de-force with a myriad of moods and sounds: various synths, organs and electric/acoustic pianos. "Same old song (sunset) reminds of 70's smooth rock with progressive rock touches, which is a rather strange combination.

 +4626 - Comfortzone by BEARDFISH album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.04 | 491 ratings

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+4626 - Comfortzone
Beardfish Eclectic Prog

Review by J.Andrew

5 stars I have spent most of my life listening to prog and am proud to know both the origins of the style and today's bands. Being such an unique and demanding style, one could be tempted to dismiss newer or different approaches to what the founders of the style did back in the late 60s and early 70s. But if one thing that hasn't changed much is the inclination for innovation that prog rock has kept. This being said, few bands can showcase this as Beardfish can. Having had a long career by today's standards, they have done a marvellous work with their latest and final album +4626-Comfortzone.

Not only is Comfortzone a conceptual album in its essence, it is also a perfect blend of prog with a more rock and roll feel. If we were to dismiss the lyrics of these fine tunes, we might find ourselves listening to a perfectly enjoyable and suiting prog album, but that would to no justice to the musical pieces that these accomplished musicians have put forth - indeed one could say that, if anything, this is the perfect farewell album, with its depressive and somewhat defeatist implication of its lyrics.

Technically wise, its a wonderfully recorded album. It won't shine for its technical prowess when compared to Rush or Dream Theater, but it will still catch the attention of those who disdain the repetitiveness and predictability of regular rock, while adding great instrumental sections and fitting solos to atmosphere driven musics that fit perfectly in a larger musical narrative.

There are few albums that I consider as accomplished as this and while Prog Archives does not allow for a 4.5 rating, I can state that his album is surely above a regular 4*. If anything, I regret that we won't be hearing from Beardfish in the future, as there were few bands that delivered consistently good albums as these guys.

I absolutely recommend a few hearings of these guys, especially for those who are bored or disenchanted with symphonic prog or psychedelic rock, as this album is the perfect showcase for what lies on the other side of the spectrum.

 The Sane Day by BEARDFISH album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.95 | 274 ratings

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The Sane Day
Beardfish Eclectic Prog

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

3 stars Double albums are often an iffy thing for me, no matter how much I love a band. I feel like the main reason for this comes from the fact that I believe that if you're making a double album, the music has to be degrees better than one would otherwise expect in order to justify the additional length. This is then taken to another level when bands start makng albums approaching 2 hours long, as it's almost certain that no matter how great the music is, 2 hours will still likely daunt the listener, and this is a big reason why I have only listened to the debut album of The Flower Kings at this point in time. This is the first album by Beardfish that I've listened to, and I can already say, while this album has flaws, I'll definitely want to be checking out the rest of their discography, as I'm highly impressed with what is presented here. There is a clear retro prog sound that the band has, taking heavy inspiration from King Crimson and Zappa in particular, with a definite feel of the more eclectic side of prog, with each song having a lot of musical ideas strewn throughout, while having the more funny, entertaining lyricism of Zappa, as well as some awesome guitar work in that sort of vein. The biggest take away I had from this album however, is how human everything sounds, while Zappa's songs were primarily based in reality, there was either an absurdist, or satirical edge that went along with many of his lyrics, where in Beardfish's case, there's a sense of comfort and fun that comes across. Their lyrics sound less like a commentary on modern life, and more like an exploration of it, which I find extremely refreshing and interesting in a genre typically filled with higher concept ideas or simply just bombast.

Despite my extremely warm impression of this band, I must admit that this album is one that I cannot fully enjoy, exactly for the reasons explained at the start, there's just too much music here for me to be able to enjoy properly. Even though I feel this way, there are without a doubt some incredible tracks to be found on here, the highlight undoubtedly, and somewhat unfortunately being the amazing opener A Love Story, which tells an emotional narrative and displays the more loose songwriting feel that the band has. The song feels simultaneously grandiose and humble, with a dramatic intro that becomes a motif throughout the song, contrasted by the story of the song, which covers a fairly down to earth topic of breakups, immediately establishing the identity of the band in a highly effective way. I love the elements of quirkiness the song incorporates as well, such as direct references to Frank Zappa albums, small sections of vocal distortion, and a line singing about wanting to scream, before then belting out a high note that never fails to put a smile on my face. Other notable songs from the first half are Tall Tales and The Gooberville Ballroom Dancer, both accentuating the wonderful lyricism at play, while also being extremely strong from a musical perspective. Tall Tales presents more mystical imagery, but once again puts it through the lens of reality by having it be told as a compilation of wild stories by someone clearly lying about their journeys, yet the whimsical nature of everything in the song makes it highly compelling to follow along nonetheless. The Gooberville Ballroom Dancer is the most bombastic song on the album by a considerable margin, telling a ridiculous, humourous story with hard hitting riffs and a lovely amount of absurdism. The high energy present here perfectly contrasts the extremely laid back Mudhill, and gives the feeling of being taken on a journey, despite the fact that the songs are all unrelated on this album. The occasional moments of heaviness or darkness found throughout the album further improves it, displaying a great variety while still sticking to its core identity, epitomised by the Fripp styled guitar playing in The Summit.

As you can see, I find the first half of the album to be excellent all around, easily a 4 star album at the very least, but the issue comes from the extremely weak second half, which starts off with 2 more gems before becoming a massive slog. Of the two songs, the titular track is a dark instrumental that moves at a much slower pace than anything else on the album, and Blue Moon is a shorter song showcasing some incredible soloing, but neither of which stand up to the powerful first half of the album. After this, there are a number of instrumental reprises of past songs, none of which do anything to grab me, since I've already heard them in their fullly realised forms. Even the actual songs on this side, such as Mystique of the Beauty Queen and The Reason of Construction and Or Building a Pyramid just do absolutely nothing for me, likely partially to do with the fact that there has already been so much music beforehand that more feels like a chore, but also because it feels like there is a considerable lack of inspiration at this point, with the majority of the top quality ideas being used up, as is often the case with albums approaching this length.

Overall, while the first half of this album is tremendous in quality, the second half falls flat on its face for the most part and dampens the listening experience by a lot. The identity of Beardfish is established very clearly here however, and it's an identity that I absolutely adore, causing me to hastily want to listen to the remaining discography of this band, as despite the mixed affair that this album is, I nonetheless already love this band. I'd recommend the first half of this record to anyone who's a fan of the heavier side of classic prog and also enjoys having some humour in their music, as this is undoubtedly something you'd find at least some enjoyment in. I look forward to listening to their other , shorter albums for sure.

Best songs: A Love Story, The Gooberville Ballroom Dancer, The Summit, Blue Moon

Weakest songs: The Basic Blues, the many instrumental interludes on the second half

Verdict: I love what this album was trying to be, and find the first half of it to be an exceptional album, extending to the first 2 tracks of the second side. After this point, it falls off hard, but even so, this is still worth a listen if you like the more classic side of prog, especially Zappa.

 Destined Solitaire by BEARDFISH album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.98 | 460 ratings

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Destined Solitaire
Beardfish Eclectic Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

3 stars Swedish prog formation Beardfish their latest effort (8th album) is from 2015 (with the funny title +4626 ' Comfortzone) and the latest Beardfish review on PA is from January 2018. I would like to go back to their fifth CD entitled Destined Solitaire from 2009, featuring a colourful, intricate triple fold-out-cover painting.

It sounds as a logical successor of their previous CD, the highly acclaimed Sleeping In Traffic : Part Two (2008): a varied, dynamic and a bit quirky sound, lots of interesting musical ideas and influences that range from The Beatles and Frank Zappa to Gentle Giant, Yes and Spock's Beard.

Their variety is incredible, just listen to the totally different atmospheres in the first four compositions.

A pleasant keyboard-oriented sound (lots of Hammond along piano and harpsichord) with a catchy beat in the instrumental Awaken The Sleeping.

The focus on fiery and biting electric - and delicate acoustic guitar work, with hints from Led Zeppelin in the exciting, often heavy rocking title track.

Around 15 minutes with captivating shifting moods and wonderful vintage keyboards (Hammond, Mellotron) in Until You Comply Including Entropy.

And a sound similar to Frank Zappa in the swinging In Real Life There Is No Algebra (even the humor of Frank Zappa!). What an interesting musical journey!

Very special is the alternating instrumental Coup De Grace (a tribute to keyboard player and singer Rikard his grandfather) due to the blend of accordion, this gives the climate a Parisian touch, beautiful!

I am very pleased with the omnipresence of the powerful and distinctive Hammond organ on this album, like in the tracks Where The Rain Comes In (strong interplay between bass and Hammond) and the compelling Abigail's Questioning (a swinging clavinet solo and a sensational fiery guitar solo with lush Mellotron). And especially in the splendid final composition The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of: varied vintage keyboards (Moog, Hammond and Mellotron) and a bombastic final part featuring a propulsive rhythm-section and spectacular Hammond work with a subtle wink to The Nice.

Although at some moments to me Beardfish sounds a bit without direction because of too many ideas in one song or a 'jam- session-like structure', in general Destined Solitaire delivers lots of interesting and captivating progrock, a big hand for these four creative Swedish minds!

My rating: 3,5 star.

 Mammoth by BEARDFISH album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.99 | 616 ratings

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Mammoth
Beardfish Eclectic Prog

Review by Kingsnake

5 stars Today is the day I fell in love with Beardfish.

I have been in love with Scandinavian progrock for decades, but never gave this band a chance, and I honestly don't know why.

What is so appealing about this band is the more pysch and muscular approach to oldschool symphonic rock. The band sounds like Yes and Genesis and King Crimson etc, but with more balls. They sound like a stonerrock band here and there, just like Swedish comrades Kamchatka (great band aswell).

The band also has some Jethro Tull influences in their music (without the flute), maybe because of the heavy drumming and guitars.

Nevertheless this album to me, is absolutely essential and I will defininately check out the rest of their repertoire.

Thanks to micky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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