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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 | 187 ratings
Från En Plats Du Ej Kan Se
2003
3.93 | 284 ratings
The Sane Day
2005
4.07 | 522 ratings
Sleeping in Traffic - Part One
2007
4.19 | 740 ratings
Sleeping in Traffic - Part Two
2008
3.97 | 473 ratings
Destined Solitaire
2009
3.99 | 631 ratings
Mammoth
2011
3.86 | 444 ratings
The Void
2012
4.03 | 503 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
 Mammoth by BEARDFISH album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.99 | 631 ratings

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Mammoth
Beardfish Eclectic Prog

Review by A Crimson Mellotron

3 stars Beardfish released their sixth studio album 'Mammoth' in 2011, with the classic line-up of the band in line; a really solid album but a bit too safe, making it probably the last Beardfish album having this very common and recognizable for them classic prog edge, while remaining Beardfsh-y in every sense of the word.

Not only this, but they decided to make it slightly 'shorter', if any of their albums could be described as short, clocking in at around 52 minutes. For this playtime, the listener gets 7 songs (practically six and one tiny instrumental interlude), some full of epic and grandiose sounds, great riffs, and playful tones, and some very forgettable ones that could have been dropped out? in my humble opinion.

A 'mysterious mood' levitates around this recording, giving an enticing aura that unfortunately is unable to save the poorer compositions from falling into the 'I could skip this next time' category. As usual, for better or for worse, this is an album that can be referred to as 'classic Beardfish', with the playful and adventurous instrumental sections, the melodic and sometimes peculiar phrasing of mastermind and vocalist Rikard Sjöblom, the jaw-dropping rhythm sections, and some very 70s-reminiscent arrangements.

The album kicks off with the mighty 'The Platform', a powerful heavier track, probably hinting at what sound the band was slowly gravitating towards (and fully embracing from their next album on). This transitions into the 15-minute epic 'And the Stone Said: "If I Could Speak", certainly one of the stronger epics, containing some of the band's most intriguing moments. The comes 'Tightrope', a really weird song from the point of view of its structure, and this seems to be the weakness of 'Mammoth' - it is very ambitious and artsy, the playing is gorgeous but the songwriting is really weak on some of the songs, and I cannot help but think that there are moments of unnecessary noodling.

'Green Waves' is another great song in the spirit of 'The Platform' but it lacks the adventurous nature of the latter, in a way. 'Outside/Inside' is a nearly two-minute interlude-like piece, leading to the instrumental 'Akakabotu', a very jazzy and playful number that could be easily mistaken for something made by a Canterbury Scene band; a guest saxophonist delivers some very mean playing that overall gives the album an originality that cannot remain unappreciated. Finally, 'Without Saying Anything' is certainly the song that I would have left out, I cannot enjoy it as much as the rest of the record, it is too messy.

On 'Mammoth' Beardfish present some fresh ideas, giving once again their own spin of the classic progressive rock sensibility to songwriting and composing music, but also deliver some of their more unimpressive moments on 'Tightrope' and 'Without Saying Anything'. A well-played album but not necessarily well-written, the band obviously has stronger material. But it has weaker, too.

 The Void by BEARDFISH album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.86 | 444 ratings

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The Void
Beardfish Eclectic Prog

Review by A Crimson Mellotron

4 stars Beardfish's heaviest fantasies come to life on their mighty seventh album, 'The Void' - an exploration of existential dread and fear, cloaked in the romantic drapery of hopeless romanticism and wishful expectation.

The Swedes are certainly one of the trailblazers of 21st century progressive rock, handily but confusingly labeled symphonic/retro prog, they never stopped reinventing themselves, thus supplying the mythical creature that Beardfish has managed to become, with loads of dedicated fans, despite the lack of overly commercial success. This album is no exception to the typical Beardfish approach to music - ever-changing and gripping, full of memorable melodies and punchy instrumental passages, with intelligent and adventurous lyrics.

An album that sometimes gets neglected or overlooked due to the fact that their well-known keyboard-centered sound is put at the back seat, in favor of a much heavier, distorted and headbanging sonic body, it should not be left unmentioned that is an excellent symphonic prog album at its very core, it is just skillfully masked in the almighty riffs and gnarly bass sections.

A sore spoken word introduction by The Tangent's Andy Tillison serves as the entrance to 'The Void', a place that Rikard Sjöblom successfully paints as dark and uninviting, allowing the listener to embark on an emotive journey through his mind. From then on, the acrobatic main riff of 'Voluntary Slavery' crushes every expectation that one could have had for this album. The band is aggressive but certainly well-behaved, while Rikard throws in some guttural shrieks just to keep the listener alert. 'Turn to Gravel' is another heavy piece that seems to sounds nothing like your usual Beardfish, the lyrics are enduring and reflective, the tone is menacing and unsettling. 'They Whisper' is the piece that finally gives off the impression that the ambitious new direction of this band will come to a very satisfactory result, given the shockingly blissful mixture of heavy guitar riffs and memorable, resonating melodies. 'This Matter of Mine' might be a bit more laid back than the cannonade of heavy songs coming before it, yet it still finds Rikard screaming at the top of his lungs once!

'Seventeen Again' is a beautiful instrumental that begins with a very stripped-down piano progression, unfolding into a very Wakeman or Emerson-esque pastiche, craftily performed by the band's leader. Spiraling through the excellent love song 'Ludvig & Sverker' and the jazzier 'He Already Lives in You', the band reach the apex of the album with the nearly 16-minute epic 'Note', just to finish off on a high (or rather low) note on the cerebral 'Where the Lights Are Low'.

All in all, 'The Void' is a fantastic exercise in beautifully-ornamented and rich songwriting, penetrated by the bombastic nature of the riffs; something that hardly let the listener disregard this album as anything less than excellent. This album proves that no matter how many times the mighty Beardfish reinvents itself, it always remains one of modern progressive rock's finest exponents.

 +4626 - Comfortzone by BEARDFISH album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.03 | 503 ratings

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+4626 - Comfortzone
Beardfish Eclectic Prog

Review by A Crimson Mellotron

4 stars A fantastic album and the perfect way for the currently-extinct Beardfish to bid farewell after a not too long but fruitful enough career. This Swedish band has managed to become an underground prog rock phenomenon for their sixteen years of existence; unfortunately, Beardfish is also a band that is virtually unknown in the mainstream.

The 'classic' line-up of the band (which happens to be the line-up appearing on every single album they have released), consisting of Rikard Sjöblom on vocals, keys and guitars, David Zackrisson on guitars, Magnus Östgren on drums, and Robert Hansen on bass is rocking out in perfect shape on this 2015 release. '+4626-COMFORTZONE', originally planned to be named just 'Comfort Zone' might be the hidden gem in the Swedes' discography, somehow standing in the shadow of albums like 'Mammoth' or 'Sleeping in Traffic: Part Two' but no less spectacular. In fact, I consider this record one of their most musically diverse releases, encapsulating simultaneously the musical values that they have displayed throughout their career, and the plethora of influences on their sound (such as King Crimson, Genesis, Yes, Pain of Salvation, Deep Purple, and who know what more!). An interesting moment is the addition of the +4626 code which happens to indicate the zone in Gävle, where the band had been formed.

Not necessarily a concept album but an album that focuses mainly on the themes of comfort and relationship, which are explored in various ways throughout the record, '+4626-COMFORTZONE' contains some of Beardfish's greatest moments, in my opinion, namely the title track, the three-part split suite of 'The One Inside', the 15-minute epic 'If We Must Be Apart', or the heavier 'King' and 'Daughter/Whore' that contain friendly nods to the band's previous album 'The Void'. It is this mixture of straight-up prog rock songs with Fripp-style lead guitars and lush keyboard ventures, heavier riff-oriented songs, and more atmospheric, personal tracks that make this album so great and captivating.

Misleadingly labeled 'retro prog', Beardfish is one of the Scandinavian prog bands that actually have an original edge and a strong musical personality. They surely wear their influences on their sleeves but also smartly incorporate them with their tendency to go for really heavy guitar-based songs on some occasions, quirky passages on others and humorous narratives with painfully relatable characters.

The sound is quite organic and the album is mixed in a very professional way, so that all the sounds unfold themselves gracefully. The compositions are well-conceived and masterfully played, with memorable melodies and great lyrics (And I would dare to call this one of their most sing-along albums!); Moreover, this might be Rikard's strongest vocal performance on any Beardfish album, displaying his full range of capabilities. And with risk of repeating myself, I shall conclude with the statement that this is a very, very strong release and a tremendous exit for a very important modern prog rock band from Sweden.

 Destined Solitaire by BEARDFISH album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.97 | 473 ratings

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Destined Solitaire
Beardfish Eclectic Prog

Review by Muskrat

3 stars Destined Solitaire doesn't add anything more than annealed Beardfish. And all cooks know that annealed fish loses all its taste. Suddenly, difficult to give a relevant opinion. Even if we note a certain hardening in some pieces, like the title piece, innovation remains timid. Which is unfortunate because Rikard is quite good at growling. At a pinch, we can consider this album as a synthesis of the previous ones (Zappa, Gentle Giant influences, accordion and three-beat tempo on 'Until You Comply'). My favorite track remains "The Stuff That Dreams are Made of" and its sublime finale at the Prokofief where the group finally manages to revive the lost magic. A record that could have been considered excellent if it had not been for the previous ones. Good, but not essential.
 Sleeping in Traffic - Part Two by BEARDFISH album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.19 | 740 ratings

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Sleeping in Traffic - Part Two
Beardfish Eclectic Prog

Review by Muskrat

5 stars With "Sleeping In the Traffic Part 2", Beardfish renews the feat of Part One and offers us a new masterpiece. That said, the band does not present us with a sequel, nor a copy / paste of Part One, but something innovative. First of all, the general tone hardens. We will observe this trend until "The Void". Then, the presence of Robert Hansen's bass becomes truly essential. Is it possible to imagine creating a piece like "The Hunter" without its unique style? I doubt. (There are also many bass covers of Beardfish songs from on YouTube, which shows how special this style is.) And finally, this album contains a very long song of over 35 minutes. Which was a challenge since usually these only occupy a maximum of 15.

Although this title track is not unanimous among reviewer (far from it!), My story is different. I took a liking to recent prog (don't laugh, the 2000s are recent for me!) Thanks to the release of this record. I had tried two or three approaches to Beardfish without having felt any click. And I kept finding the modern prog of the time (Spock's Beard, Flower Kings) too sung and rather boring. One day in 2008, YouTube offering me the track "Sleeping In the Traffic Part 2", I then tried a new test, without much enthusiasm. "Without a doubt, another Stoilterie where I will die of boredom before the tenth minute!" I said to myself. Well, I never would have imagined what happened to me! I found myself literally stuck and only picked up on the last notes of "Sunrise Again", which the person who had downloaded the track, had the good taste to stick at the end. Suffice to say how much this song was for me a real revelation! I loved this festival of violence and calm, change of tempo and emotions (thanks for example, to the accordion by Rikard). A real saga. There you go, even though in hindsight, "Sleeping In the Traffic Part 2" is no longer my favorite album from this band, I would always keep it in my heart for that reason. All proportions kept, a bit like the discovery of Close To The Edge.

 Sleeping in Traffic - Part One by BEARDFISH album cover Studio Album, 2007
4.07 | 522 ratings

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Sleeping in Traffic - Part One
Beardfish Eclectic Prog

Review by Muskrat

5 stars What happiness!

Never rock band will have deserved so much its qualification of progressive. Because make no mistake, Beardfish is above all rock. And if it only took one track to prove it, "Harmony" would suffice. From the first notes, romanticism springs from Rikard Sjöblom's accordion, and bewitches us with a ritornello that we begin to whistle for the rest of the day. Then with its alternation of softness and violence "Sunrise" puts us directly in the bath. From "Roulette", the pieces reveal an incredible intensity and the high level of inspiration does not let us go until the last notes, a final taste of very addicting come back. I have literally loved this record for many years! When it comes to interpretation and mixing, the listener that I am is always happy to hear clearly guitar, bass, keyboards, drums and not an indistinguishable magma. It is moreover from "Sleeping In the Traffic P1" that Robert Hansen really imposes his powerful bass playing. Great!

A true masterpiece and one of the best rock records I have ever heard. No doubt.

 The Sane Day by BEARDFISH album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.93 | 284 ratings

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The Sane Day
Beardfish Eclectic Prog

Review by Muskrat

3 stars Although Rikard Sj'blom's compositions exude a certain neo-classical influence ' la Tati and we find big nods to Gentle Giant (Tall Tales, Waiting Room), The Sane Day is a rather pop record, very marked by what Franck Zappa did. (Note, however, that not liking Zappa - which I do - won't stop you from enjoying this record!) Suddenly, the result is both eclectic and homogeneous, with beautiful solo pieces on the piano. The Sane Day is far from my favorite Beardfish album and I think this band would have benefited from reducing this double album to one in one. That said, even if it does not include exceptional moments, there are no truly dispensable pieces either.

Not essential, The Sane Day is nevertheless an excellent appetizer to discover the musical world of this group.

 +4626 - Comfortzone by BEARDFISH album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.03 | 503 ratings

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+4626 - Comfortzone
Beardfish Eclectic Prog

Review by prog_traveller!!

4 stars Beardfish for me is one of the greatest newer prog bands. From their first album Fran En Plats Du Ej Kan Se from 2003 to +4626 Comfortzone released in 2015 they brought a somewhat of a classic prog sound but always with their unique sound. They were one of those bands that were never at the same spot musically and explored their sound on each album. They made a huge impact with their Sleeping in Traffic Part One and two albums and took their rightful place as one of the strongest bands in prog.

Throughout +4626 ? Comfortzone album they deliver their retro style with vintage instrumentation and production sounds, but it also has some of the best qualities of modern prog.

Like I said before, they love to explore music and the first thing you noticed about this album is that they stepped away from the heaviness from its predecessor. That being said, the album is still heavy with fantastic Hammond and guitar that goes throughout and they introduce some alternative and from time to time acoustic pop-rock but in their own brilliant way.

Beautiful melodies, emotional songwriting with great vocals, complex passages and musicianship out of this world is all combined into this phenomenal release. 4,5 really

 +4626 - Comfortzone by BEARDFISH album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.03 | 503 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 | 631 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.
Thanks to micky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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