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Beardfish - The Void CD (album) cover

THE VOID

Beardfish

 

Eclectic Prog

3.86 | 431 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Daggor
5 stars Review originally written for Black Wind Metal.

Beardfish has always been, for better or worse, my go-to vessel for classy eclectic progressive rock, combining elements of some of my favorite classic prog artists like Yes, King Crimson, Genesis, or Frank Zappa. My first exposure to the band was almost Progressive Nation 2009, before they dropped off the roster and were replaced by Bigelf. It would then be two years later that I experienced Mammoth, a record with some hard rock leanings, but ultimately more of just a classic prog soul updated for modern ears. As I worked backwards through Destineed Solitaire and the Sleeping In Traffic albums, I realized that Mammoth was probably just an aberration and that this was not a band with a lot of teeth. I loved them for it though, and really enjoyed everything I heard.

Fast forward to the present, and it comes to my attention that Beardfish has released another album, only a year after Mammoth. I thought this was a quick turnaround until I remembered the band's apology on the album booklet from Mammoth for "this one taking so long" (It was only 2 years after Destineed Solitaire), so after getting the album I went in pretty much completely blind. The album opener, "Voluntary Slavery" blasted me almost completely out of my seat. "Voluntary Slavery" unleashes with a riff containing the embodiment of violent fury. A bit slow and methodic, but positively brutal at the same time. Immediately I was concerned, could the band hold to their high standard of melody and professionalism with this much heaviness? Would hardcore fans show up to shows with pitchforks and torches at the change in direction?

Luckily, instead of the cleanly polished technical magician show, we get a masterful fusion of eclectic progressive rock and gritty, grimy, aggressive metal. With the lyrical axe-to-grind that the band has always wielded, the crunch of the riffs creates great emphasis. On "This Matter Of Mine" in particular though, the styles fuse beautifully. This type of stuff is an experience that I've always believed to be theoretically possible, and so I'm quite grateful to Beardfish for really making it happen. I can admit to being thoroughly slayed by this album, because it's so heavily laced with musical elements I love: old school 'pretentious' prog, raw aggression, lead organ interplay with guitars, and even occasional stoner riffs, all wrapped up in a grandiose presentation package and sprinkled with delightfully catchy and memorable melodies throughout. To attempt to hit all those qualities oozes massive ambition, and to do it right affirms massive talent.

As for the non-metal tracks (As they only occupy about half the album), there is the lengthy "Note", that I can't say was immediately accessible to me thanks to the wide range of styles mixed together. It's really a brilliant track, but that might not occur to listeners on their first time through. Of the non-metal tracks, what really stands out to me is "Ludvig And Sverker", which has a great vocal melody and very enjoyable rhythms. It hardly feels like 8 minutes, but there's a lot packed in here, even for those fans just completely unwilling to accept a metal Beardfish.

My personal favorite tracks were "They Whisper", for having probably the best fusion of styles between stronger riffs but still eclectic prog, and "He Already Lives In You", for being what sounded like me to be a brilliant tribute to Atomic Rooster's Death Walks Behind You-era with a bit of Deep Purple mixed in for good measure. This album is absolutely filled with well executed and memorable songs, and I don't hesitate to say fans with an open mind may consider it Beardfish's best album yet.

4.5 // 5

Daggor | 5/5 |

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