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Beardfish - The Void CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.86 | 437 ratings

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3 stars 2012 see's Beardfish return with their seventh studio album, The Void. Rumours were that they were going in a heavier, even metal direction. Truth is Beardfish have been getting heavier since their masterpiece Sleeping In Traffic: Part Two which for many captured the band at their peak. Retro sounding it may have been but the eclectic mix of prog with great hooks, strong melodies and a good dose of humour were irresistible for many. Since then they've released a couple of good but inferior to SITP2 albums which - and who can blame them, saw the band progressing with a more contemporary sound but losing much of their quirky charm in the process.

The Void doesn't turn out to be the prog metal album some may have been expecting but it does feature moments which are metal and is certainly their heaviest album to date. The guitars sound dirtier than in the past and it's probably their most complex music so far. Beardfish have improved as musicians - not that they were bad before - but it has to be said they haven't, or make that Rikard Sj÷blom hasn't improved as a songwriter. In the interests of progression they've lost something in the process, which in the main boils down to weaker hooks and melodies. There's even the very occasional use of death metal growls here! Now don't get me wrong, The Void isn't a bad album by any means, in fact it's quite a good one and opening track proper Voluntary Slavery, which incidentally features some of the heaviest playing here is pretty captivating. There's still elements of old Beardfish which could sit on their earlier albums like the tellingly titled instrumental Seventeen Again which is great and features some excellent playing from all including the trademark Beardfish organ sound which is easily identifiable with the band. Ludvig & Sverker is one of the stronger vocal melodies and could almost sit on Sleeping In Traffic: Part One being subtler, at least in parts.

Some may be put off by the slightly dirgy production which helps drag inferior tracks such as He Already Lives In You down further, which after a promising start seems to drift into nothingness with little of redeeming qualities. At almost sixteen minutes Note is the longest piece on the album and does bear a bit more of a resemblance to older Beardfish in terms of the overall sound and feel but not in quality despite the beautiful guitar solo over piano arpeggios thirteen minutes in.

Whilst I admire Beardfish for not staying still and attempting to progress I think they need to look at their earlier albums to remind them of what made them so great. The Void is a good album which in parts is very enjoyable but for me there's too many moments where I find my interest waning and at 76 minutes is a bit too long. I'd say they'll have to come up with something stronger than this if they want to reach a wider audience.

Nightfly | 3/5 |


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