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Beardfish - The Void CD (album) cover

THE VOID

Beardfish

Eclectic Prog


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4 stars Beardfish is my favorite modern prog outfit. No band has challenged me or kept me so entertained since I got into them back in 2008. For me, it's the interesting songwriting combined with the deliriously good melodies and craftsmanship. No band sounds like Beardfish, and I find it difficult to describe them to people. It doesn't help that with every album, they find a way to reinvent themselves.

While Destined Solitaire was a pretty big departure that found them exploring the outer reaches of the prog universe with some truly out-there songwriting, it still stayed largely in the realm of the eclectic. With Mammoth (my personal favorite, though it's so hard to choose), Beardfish sounded like a band in transition into something more heavy and metallic. The album was shorter, punchier, and a bit more experimental than the rest.

The Void is arguably their biggest departure to date, and continues and perhaps finishes this transition they started with Mammoth. Here we find Beardfish embracing some of their more metallic tendencies. However, this is not a full-blown metal album like I and others had suspected. Nope, this is just Beardfish being Beardfish, reinventing their sound with wild success while sounding a bit more schizophrenic than usual.

If there are any songs I could recommend to prime people for this it would be Green Waves and Without Saying Anything, both from Mammoth. They hint at the direction this album takes, but nothing can fully prepare the listener for any new Beardfish effort. Here's a track- by-track breakdown:

Introduction - An interesting bit of spoken word that hints at the meaning of this album.

Voluntary Slavery - The Void kicks off with a swift kick to the face. A chugging hook, crunchy guitars, some vocal aggression thrown in for good measure. This track is BAD. ASS. As a metal fan, this track tickled me greatly when I heard them play it live in New Jersey back in May. I like it just as much here, and find myself rocking out to it with gusto. A definite head- banger of a track. Rikard can't growl or scream like the best of them, but he's still solid here. You can tell he's been working at it.

Turn to Gravel - Another heavy-hitter. Not as smashing as Voluntary Slavery, but a good rockin' tune. Probably the closest they've ever come to a flat-out rock song with very few progressive sensibilities. It's a stand out track in that regard, but I'm not sure if its necessarily a good thing. It certainly sounds solid though, and fits the overall mood of the album.

They Whisper - This song. This song destroyed me the first time I heard it. The 'tron makes its first appearance and reminds us that this is still Beardfish. The driving melody is full of emotion and nuance, and marks the first big change that The Void has made me notice in Beardfish's sound. It's the first song that has a lot of genuinely stirring emotion in the music. It's something about the in-your-faceness of the melody, the notes he hits, and the instrumentation that just moves me, man. This is a song that SOUNDS like Beardfish, but FEELS like nothing they've ever done before.

This Matter of Mine - The brutality is back. This song is a kick in the testicles from the beginning, and absolutely the most metal tune out of everything on here. The driving guitar riff is bone-crushing, and will absolutely delight fans of progressive metal. At around the 4:30 mark, things switch up a bit and a little more classic Beardfish riffing comes out before the mellow end.

Seventeen Again - Unbelievable. I've noticed that Beardfish's instrumental tunes are always their most musically diverse, and Seventeen Again is no exception. Bouncing around from smooth, loungey jazz, to good ol' prog rock, and jumping any and everywhere in between. This is a classic Beardfish romp.

Ludvig & Sverker - Another tune that recalls the Beardfish we all know and love. It's a beautiful piece, with some enchanting lyrics and emotional riffing. I don't have much else to say about it. It's just wonderful.

He Already Lives in You - Lounge metal is the best way I can describe this. It's a slow, groovy, dark track with some bluesy lyrics to fit the mood.

Note - The epic. A nearly 16-minute monster. I can't lie, I was kinda hoping for another bombastic masterpiece like "...And The Stone Said; If I Could Speak," but with Beardfish I've found that it's best to just check your hopes and dreams at the door. Note is in a league of its own. It has all the hallmarks of a good epic. It moves smooth as silk throughout its long runtime, never once getting boring or stale, shifting movements while revisiting themes, and just in general being a very engaging piece of work.

There aren't a whole lot of wild shifts going on here. It keeps its tone the same pretty much all throughout while experimenting with some different riffs and melodies. However, a little more than halfway through, Rikard delights us with a heart-wrenching piano solo, which is arguably the most emotionally profound moment of this band's career. When the rest of the band kicks in and joins him, it just amplifies the greatness. My ears were in heaven listening to this.

I'm not very good at describing music in intricate detail. I've listened to this song alone 15 times and I still have trouble really hammering out what I love so much about it. It's just sublime progressive rock brought to life in a way only Beardfish can. While the only thing it shares with And The Stone Said is its runtime, it's no less of a masterpiece. It's easily scaled the ranks as one of my favorite Beardfish songs, and an absolutely essential piece of listening. Even if the rest of The Void sucked, it would have been worth buying for this song alone.

Where the Lights are Low - A mellow finish to the album. Probably my least favorite track, but still a pretty solid tune.

Ludvig & Sverker (Piano Version) - This is a track on the limited edition of the album. It's a sparse and beautiful rendition of an already beautiful proggy tune.

Overall, I can't really complain too much about The Void. I'm biased because I hold Beardfish in extremely high regard, but I think this is another terrific entry in their catalog. Not sure if it will reach the lofty heights that their other albums have for me, but that's something that will be revealed in time after dozens of listens. It's impossible to render such verdicts so soon after the album's release. What verdict I can render is that I am having an absolute blast listening to this, and look forward to every spin. I'll give it a 4 for now, but like some of their others, this may very easily become a 5 over time.

Report this review (#814772)
Posted Monday, September 3, 2012 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars Beardfish are another Swedish band that have decided that 2012 is the right time to produce something that is a little out of the ordinary, well for them at least. This album may start with a gentle spoken introduction (care of Andy Tillison of PO90 and The Tangent), but then is off with some crushing riffs which isn't exactly these guys' normal style. We are treated to some great melodic neo-prog that at times is more metal than rock, but always with a great amount of melody and vocals. This is prog that at times is much more direct than many may be used to, and in fact moves away from what some people consider to be prog at all, but it is always class, solid class. They may be more Radiohead and jagged edges than Floyd and a warm blanket, but the result is something that is both enjoyable and extremely accessible the first time it is played.

There will be some who have thrown their hands up in horror of Beardfish actually progressing in a musical sense, but isn't that what it is all about? True, the guitars at time have a wonderfully fuzzed out distorted sound that one would associate more with Kyuss than Yes but who cares? This is an album that should pick up fans who would not normally touch anything associated with the word 'prog' and all power to the guys for moving into what is for them uncharted territory. Hopefully they will not lose the people who bought the previous six albums, and there is still plenty on here for the 'traditional' Beardfish fan to enjoy with loads of different styles throw into the mix.

Report this review (#821797)
Posted Sunday, September 16, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars The Void is the seventh studio album for Progressive Rock act Beardfish, and as I listened to this album again the other day I had a bit of a catharsis. On my first listen, I would not have given it 5 stars ? I did actually enjoy the album quite a bit, but I was not ready to give it 5 stars at this point. But I made some connections this time, and found new understanding of the album. Now, I'd like to get on a soapbox a bit and talk about reviewing albums, why I started reviewing albums, and some peeves I have about reviews. This may seem to have nothing to do with The Void by Beardfish, but stick with me here and I am going to try to make a connection between the album and this thought process.

So I have listened to and been a fan of Progressive Rock for a long time and have listened to many, many albums. But I only recently began to review albums, and while I had thought about giving it a shot many times before, I always thought I didn't really have anything new to say. But what eventually pushed me into writing my first review was when I saw a horrible review of an album I loved, and it was the only review on the site for this album. The reviewer's only reason for giving a very low rating of this album and trash talking it seemed to be that he felt the band wasn't truly "Progressive" because they had some, in his opinion, obvious influences and thus were not doing anything new. Now, this is a huge peeve of mine, because I think this is a misunderstanding of what the "Progressive" genre is truly about. You see, I don't believe the genre, or any musical genre, can be defined by such an ambiguous idea as being "new" or having never been done before. It's music ? nothing is new! Every piece of music is influenced by some other pieces of music going back all the way to the time when the caveman Ugh Nok Ok picked up a seashell and blew into it, playing the very first notes. If your music has notes, it was influenced by this event! You think King Crimson was "new"? You think Yes was doing something that had never been done before? No! They were influenced by classical composers as well as the rock music of their time and they were just combining influences! So it is a peeve of mine when I see reviewers defining the Progressive genre by this ambiguous idea of possessing "newness" and taking this concept to the conclusion that anything that does not possess this indefinable and immeasurable idea must not be good. No, what makes an album "good" is indefinable as well, and different from person to person, but usually has to do with a certain level of musical skill, and creating a combination of sounds that is pleasing in some way to the listener as well as presenting an idea to the listener in a way that makes a connection with that listener. And so, as I have pondered how to go about defining my ratings of albums in my reviews, I have realized that I cannot pretend to be presenting the true measurement of an album's worth but can only represent my own enjoyment of an album, nothing more.

Now, what does this have to do with Beardfish's album, The Void? Well, let's start exploring this question by taking a look at the first track of the album, the Intro, in which Andy Tillison states:

"The magician looked into the future and saw nothing but the past, repeating itself. With caution he turned his eyes to the present and found himself staring into a void. He disappeared in the dark. Time passed, and one day he returned, with a vision. Once he talked to the first stranger he met it was clear that in his absence nothing had changed, but him?"

Now right away, we have a very powerful and mysterious statement. But as the album progresses, I believe the band explores this concept through their music. Now, I have always been intrigued by Beardfish ? they have a unique style that incorporates a very retro sound that seems to be influenced by Yes, King Crimson, and Genesis, incorporating progressive musical structures, quick fingered riffs, changing time signatures, sometimes odd crashing jangles, and a quirky sophistication. But when this album first came out I heard rumblings that seemed to frighten some away while only drawing me in: "Psst! Beardfish is going metal! Run away!" This is the warning it seemed some were giving out. So of course I had to check it out. And as I listened I thought that I could hear where these people were coming from, but it seemed clear to me that this was not a release that nicely and neatly fit right in to the "Metal" categorization in any way. Yes, the guitars have a bit more distorted crunch to them, there is some riffing that is more aggressive in previous Beardfish albums, and there are the occasional growly vocals present. But it is clear that the retro sound we're used to hearing from Beardfish is still present as well as plenty of jazz influences. But as I listened to this album again later on I felt that I began to understand the musical statement as I realized there seemed to be many, many musical influences present in this album. By incorporating and representing musical influences from many genres and time periods, I believe Beardfish is musically presenting the statement put forth by King Solomon thousands of years ago: "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, 'Look! This is something new'? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time."

As I realized the presence of Classic Prog, Progressive Metal, Sludge, Math-Rock, Jazz, Classic Rock, Blues, and Classical influences (and possibly many more) that were present in this release, and thought about the statement made in the intro, I began to realize how beautifully and profoundly they were presenting this idea of the future merely repeating the past, and the spiritual and philosophical quandary that we are faced with as we ponder this and what it means for our lives. And as I began to understand this statement, I began to truly enjoy this album as it touched me and affected my perspective. And that is what this album is all about, I believe: the mystery of life in which there is nothing new and that as we deal with loss, love, life and death and struggle to heal from emotional wounds, the illusion of change, and how the only thing which truly changes in time is our own perspective.

Originally written for www.seaoftranquility.org

Report this review (#824255)
Posted Wednesday, September 19, 2012 | Review Permalink
Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
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 Sjöblom 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.

Report this review (#834175)
Posted Sunday, October 7, 2012 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars BEARDFISH have consistantly put out some incredible albums over the years to the point where they have become one of my favourite bands out of Sweden. They do it differently than my favourite Swedish bands like ANEKDOTEN, ANGLAGARD, SINKADUS and LANDBERK but they are so freaking talented. Early on it was their Zappa-like humour and flavour along with the killer instrumental work that drew me in and all these years later I would say those are the things that still appeal to me along with the exceptional lyrics. As others have noted this one has some heaviness to it not heard in earlier releases, but that's just a couple of tracks for those who might be scared off by the "Metal" tag being thrown around.

"Introduction" is a narration piece spoken by none other than Andy Tillison as he relates to us up the concept in 30 seconds. "Voluntary Slavery" hits us with outbursts of drums as the guitar grinds away. Heavy stuff. It's almost doom-like a minute in then the vocals come in including a growly "Do you believe in alchemy ?" after 2 minutes. This is BEARDFISH ? Great sounding track ! Gotta love the instrumental section starting around 4 minutes. A calm a minute later with reserved vocals. "Turn To Gravel" continues with the low end guitar and doomy sound as the vocals join in. So good. It does settle back and turns lighter 1 1/2 minutes in as contrasts continue. The lyrics are so good here. Killer track. "They Whisper" sounds like classic BEARDFISH to me. It's melodic with those familiar vocals. Some passionate vocals at times. "This Matter Of Mine" opens with some nasty guitar as the rest of the band kicks in hard. Great sound ! Vocals before a minute as it settles back a little. I keep thinking of how good this would all sound in a live setting. Nice laid back section before 4 minutes that lasts almost a minute. "Seventeen Again" is completely different with prominant piano and bass as the drums beat away. Almost jazzy really. This is an instrumental by the way. The organ leads for an extended period. An okay track but my least favourite.

"Ludwig & Sverker" makes up for it. An 8 minute ride that is so blissful. They actually include a piano version of this as a bonus track because it's so good. "He Already Lives In You" opens with the sound of water as keyboards join in then it builds. It turns heavier around a minute then the organ becomes prominant. A calm with vocals follow as contrasts continue. Sampled words 3 minutes in from a preacher. Then it kicks in hard with organ leading the way. "Note" is the longest track at over 16 minutes. It opens with the sound of someone writing then it kicks in with vocals. A very cool uptempo tune. "So I find myself staring straight into the sun" is a line repeated often. Such a proggy tune with deep bass lines. Love this song. "Where The Lights Are Low" opens with some interesting guitar before the vocals come in which sound different because it's the keyboardist singing at first before the main vocalist arrives. A few F-bombs in this relaxed track. A great way to end the album.

Man this is such a good album, close to being 4.5 stars for me. A solid 4 stars for now though.

Report this review (#890302)
Posted Wednesday, January 9, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of the best albums I have ever listened too.

I bought this album knowing nothing about the band was automatically blown away. The intro is amazing in its self and sets a great theme. 5/5

The first song Voluntary Slavery. Its pretty heavy but you can hear the prog. Really good jam I guess you could say. The vocals are mostly clean and I don't mind when they get a little heavy. The first verse really caught my eye. I love the lyrics here. 5/5

The second song, Turn To Gravel, continues with the same style. Great bass. An excellent second song. The chorus here is my favorite part. 5/5

The third song is They Whisper. This was once my favorite song but after many listens, I view all the songs as being equal. The pace slows down a little and loses the heavy approach. The vocals are again stunning. Lyrics are pretty good as well. 5/5

On This Matter Of Mine, the heaviness returns. excellent guitar here and the drumming keeps right up. About half way it changes pace and goes into some really good lyrics and slower playing. The song then picks up again before fading out. 5/5

And now that we are really into the album, the songs change a little. I've noticed this on alot of concept albums, where the sound changes around half way. Seventeen Again is a piano driven instrumental. It then transitions into guitar and keyboards. It sounds almost quirky compared to the seriousness of the other songs. However it does not seem out of place. 4.5/5

Ludvig & Sverker follows next with a similar pace. Not so heavy but an amazing song. Again the lyrics strike home and blow my mind. 5/5

The next song is He Already Lives In You. I just couldn't get into this song. Others may enjoy it as it is a good song, I just don't care for it. 3/5

The Note picks right back up though continuing the softer approach. Another amazing song with great lyrics. The key boards are really good and the guitar plays right along.

Where The Lights Are Low is more of a conclusion then a grand finale but it is still great. The ending guitar solo brings the album to a close and seals the book as a masterpiece album. 4/5

In the end it is an amazing album with many different sounds and striking lyrics. And where one song isn't as great as another, the amount of good songs make up for a small lapse. Truly one of the best albums of 2012 and I look forward to this band's future.

Report this review (#894705)
Posted Wednesday, January 16, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars I had a tough time with this one initially. It just didn't sound good to me in the car stereo and as a result it put me off the music.

So finally I got around to playing it on a proper stereo and really focusing on the music. The greatness of this album was then revealed to me. Sonically this is a bit of a departure from previous albums. It's not really tremendously heavier than previous albums and hearing this all at once on a proper system made me realize that it's a more coherent work than my initial impressions had indicated.

Another aspect that drew me in was the lyrics. Really well done lyrics that made me want to read more. This is the first album in ages where I connected with the lyrics.

I do use 5-star ratings sparingly. I think this may be my first such rating on this site. It's the "whole package" that makes this album deserving of the 5-star rating in my opinion. Very few albums have all the bases covered like this one does. At once classic Beardfish and yet something new.

Report this review (#917691)
Posted Friday, February 22, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars In a nutshell, the first half of the album is, more or less, death metal in influence. The second half of the album is closer to what Beardfish usually sounds like. There is not much else to say about the first half - if you like the growling voice/distorted chord type of music then you may like these songs. I was not at all impressed by these songs. As for the second half, these songs are more typical of the band but no one tune really stands out like Sleeping in Traffic Part Two. Based on Sleeping in Traffic part Two, I bought several other of their albums. If I had listed to this album first, I never would have been impressed enough to buy more.
Report this review (#940286)
Posted Saturday, April 6, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars Rikard Sjoblom, leader of the quirky eclectic retro-proggers Beardfish, who have been increasing in heaviness lately, has said he was a fan of metal. There was before the rare growl in Destined Solitaire (from eponymous album), and in the ...And the Stone Said. Now he indulges himself with several stabs at a sort of gritty proto-metal riffs. Problem is, while in Solitaire the metal was a send-up, and in the Stone it was appropriate to the segment, in the Void it comes across as strained and forced, although the riffs themselves are not half bad. The reaction is more of raised eyebrows rather than head-banging. It overstays the welcome. To me, their best stab at heaviness remains the metal/tango intro to Sleeping in Traffic.

Another half of this album is Beardfish at their usual pleasant self - a jazzy instrumental, a sad pop-rocker, an epic full of glorious melodies and vocals (the album also ends on an unexcepted but cool note with unrecognizable lo-fi country-blues). The problem is, however, that even those songs are prone to being somewhat repetitious (Seventeen Again and Ludvig and Sverker could have both be shaven by two minutes easily).

Well, kudos to Beardfish for trying on, with occasional success, new approaches, but to me The Void is their typically interesting, but least compelling album.

Report this review (#1070903)
Posted Saturday, November 2, 2013 | Review Permalink
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

Report this review (#1283762)
Posted Thursday, September 25, 2014 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I've just realized that I have not reviewed The Void even though I already listened to it since it was released sometime in August 2012 by InsiodeOut. My initial reaction even before I spun the music of any Beardfish album is only simple words: it must be excellent. I am sure most of you agree with me that Sweden has become the land of progressive rock in this era as so many great prog bands coming out from Sweden. Of course they are heaviliy influenced by legendary bands like King Crimson, Yes, Gentle Giant or eve Genesis. But the music of Beardfish is quite unique in nature and it's hard for me to identify major influence as the band s truly an eclectic prog band - they always try something different with new albums they release. The 2011 release Mammoth revealed a band restless to step outside the their boundaries--or at least anxious to add a little poundage. The Void push the envelope in fact harder than before, I think.

It was just couple of weeks ago I had a lengthy prog discussion with my friend who owns a coffee shop that does not play music but PROG. It's located far away from my hometown at capital city of Indonesia, and he lives and builds his PROG cafe at east Java, Jombang to be exact - it's roughly about 900 KM at east side of Jakarta. Of course I came at his coffee shop for not only this purpose but altogether with my work as Culture Change Consultant at Surabaya and I extended my days of stay to be able to have a lengthy prog discussion at the most progressive environment cafe: Apple Prog Cafe. He, Edi Santoso, is a humble person with havy loaded prog in his mind so everything comes out from his mouth has always been about prog. He even dares to spin only prog for his cafe eventhough his customers not prog lovers at all. So .. he is very pushy to make people get acquainted with prog music.

Why do I need to elaborate a paragraph long about my friend Edi? One simple reason: he is very very Birdfish or so called die hard fan of Beardfish. Even when I was picked by him at the bus station from my journey to Jombang, he palyed The Void inside the car - so here we were altogether in the car enjoying The Void. ANd not only that, he posted a giant poster of Beardfish Robert Hansen at one corner of his prog cafe! So, my meeting with him that day of 19-20 September 2014 was really heavy loaded with PROG and also Baerdfish. By that time I did not realize that I have not reviewed The Void yet. That's why now is my time to give my personal views about this album.

First off, this is definitely an excellent addition to any progressive music album that actually I wanted to review when I wrote The Tangent album - especially when it was said that Beardfish gave narration of the album in exchange of Andy Tillison providesnarration to The Void. But I forgot to review it. I consider this as a concept album as I always play it in its entirety. The music os quite eclectic in nature even though at first spin I though was a prog metal album as there is a growling part at the second track right after introduction: Voluntary Slavery (6:33). The track is quite heavy in nature but not forgetting the eclectic part: you can not predict the song will go to until you experience it. The combined clean vocal and growling part is really nice. It continues wonderfully with the next track Turn To Gravel (5:30) where the heavy side of prog still dominate the song. The next song provides some break as the music has tuned down nto a slower style with They Whisper (6:06).

I do not intend to give a track by track detailed review but one thing for sure that I want to share with you is listening to this album in its entirety. And I think that's my only suggestion: don't get the joy of good music from The Void get interrupted or cut off in the middle of the album - you have to listen to it in its entirety and I guarantee full satisfaction with its music. For some reason now I feel like I find the Gentle Giant reformed into the kind of Beardfish music. I am not saying that Bearfish is a copy cat from Gentle Giant - and of course not as the music is totally different. But ... how eclectic Beardfish is ...that reminds me to Gentle Giant. At that time I also considered Gentle Giant music is very different compared to others. But now I find Beardfish doing similar thing. Of course you will get confused judging the band from progressive metal view points. And also you will be surprised if you judge this using the spectacle of regular prog music because there are many surprises you experience throughout the album.

The epic part Note (15:50) comprises four movements: I. Note, II. Descending, III. The Void, IV. Note (reprise) which typically the track that is sought after by many prog heads. Bearfish has composed the epic beautifully so that you get full enjoyment of the music through the four movements. Not only that, the concluding track Where The Lights Are Low (5:41) provides different style as compared to previous ones especially on raw guitar work.

By the way ... I am completing this review while spinning the album with my iPod Touch connected to bluetooth speaker Divoom Voombox Travel which I just recently purchased and happy with its sound. One thing I wanted to purchase the bluetooth speaker: to get prog music around me all the time , in fact when I ride bicyle. And I am happy with the recent bluetooth technology tah makes it possible for me to enjoy prog anywhere; when I ride my lovely bicycle, I can put the speaker right at the bar while the iPod unit I put at pannier in the back side of the bike. So .. I am writing this review remotely. As the music of The Void comes out clearly with this speaker, I can write representative review about the album ...and yeah ... this is an excellent album, really! Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#1287286)
Posted Saturday, October 4, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars The new Beardfish album could easily be divided in two different parts : the first one, which I had considered to be "the toughest one", It features those Heavy-Rock/Sludge-Metal trend we had previously found on"Mammoth.

The first track "Volontary Slavery", with its cryptic sound, it is probably the heaviest song the band has ever conceived so far but it does not necessary means this is a bad thing because it has enough details to make the whole thing still sound interesting enough and, luckily, there is anything going wrong here, nor even predictable!

"Turn To Gravel" is a perfect crossover of style between Tool, Black Sabbath or even Mastodon with its continuous changes in rhythm, it has mantric, dark and heavy guitar riffs characterizing the gloomy atmosphere which pervades the whole song.

"They Whisper" turns out to be much more on a canonical prog-oriented style but still has some heavy but interesting vocal contributions from Sjöblom, he really proves once again, as if it were needed, his huge talent!

"This Matter of Time", pays tribute once again to Mastodon. It has alternated moments between irrepressible energy and others of apparent tranquility that end up to confuse listeners quite enough, even the more attentive ones! This song virtually closes the first part of the album.

The second one starts with a more convincing instrumental track: "Seventeen Again" and suddenly the band here finds herself walking back on a more safe path, doing anything sound as If Gentle Giant were playing an unreleased Jam together with ELP, anything goes so nicely inspired! One of my favoirites.

The next song is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of the entire work: "Ludvig & Sverker" begins with a very effective call and response between bass and drums and a very nice sounding guitar arpeggio which briefly introduces the chorus theme, while the verses are characterized by delicate sounds of arpeggio guitars and dreamy vocal poetry. The deluxe version of the disc also contains the alternative piano version of the song that is perhaps even better than the electric one!

"He Already Lives In You" is another excellent song where the heavy guitar riffs and vocal parts sound both equally effective without never being constrained. I find quite some classical references to those seminal bands like Sabbath or even Deep Purple.

"Note" is the longest piece of music here and, obviously, the more articulated one which, though long-term, still managed to keep alive the interest of the most attentive listeners who will be surprised by countless special melodic and harmonic interesting details which will eventually enrich an authentic musical pinnacle.

"Where The Lights Are Low" is a kind of slow blues with echoes from the sixties to close this album, It is not bad at all but essentially it sounds a bit as a filler track!

In my humble opinion "The Void" appears to be a bit fragmented almost as if Beardfish have been afraid to dare too much this time, perhaps fearing the possibility of losing most of their Fans who are aways been loyal to their most genuine Prog-Rock oriented music inspired by the seventies. Perhaps this is the reason that prompted them to not go beyond a possible, dangerous point of no return. However it is up to them revealing us their future aims on the next record that certainly will clarify the thousand doubts that this work has definitely aroused in many of us, and a little in me too!

4 stars for the quality of music! 3 stars for the inconsistency of certain stylistic choices!

Report this review (#1325552)
Posted Wednesday, December 17, 2014 | Review Permalink
2 stars I like Beardfish, I really do - but half of this album is borderline unlistenable! For some weird reason they decided to be a somewhat metal band here... oh boy, this DOES NOT work at all! Beardfish are good, sometimes even great, prog rock band, but as metal unit they are plain horrible. The first four songs (Voluntary Slavery, Turn To Gravel, They Whisper, This Matter Of Mine) are the proof of it - riffs are annoying, music is viscous in a wrong way, everything falls apart, it is not really heavy, it is not memorable, apart of growls, but the growls does not work at all as well.

The second part of album is much better, and at last sounds like Beradfish - Ludvig & Sverker is very fine song, Void is enjoyable.

I consider this album to be a band experiment that mostly went wrong and next CD is much better!

Report this review (#1502153)
Posted Tuesday, December 22, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars Usually when we see progressive rock bands going in a metal direction, it ends up taking on a standard progressive metal tone, which does logically make sense. However, what if you want to hear other genres of metal blended rather than the typical power-prog sound? Beardfish breaks that paradigm of progressive rock bands going progressive metal, and instead blends eclectic rock with sludgy grunge/stoner/doom metal. For someone like me, who doesn't really care for much progressive metal apart from the classic bands, this comes as a welcome change of pace.

This is an eclectic and long album, so one thing that albums like this can suffer from is inconsistency, but Beardfish keeps things pretty steady for the most part. The opening two tracks as well as "This Matter of Mine" are definitely the heaviest songs and the best. Both the opening songs are like a mix of a Kyuss/Alice in Chains-type sound blended with progressive rock. "This Matter of Mine" has some pretty killer basslines and brings to mind a heavier Deep Purple at times. "He Already Lives in You" has a bit of this Deep Purple vibe as well, especially with the vocals and organ. Most of the other songs all have a range of eclectic progressive rock and a smorgasbord of softer passages, hard rockin' moments, spacey parts, and metallic dirges.

Rikard Sjöblom's vocals's are quite varied, but I notice that at times he reminds me of Deep Purple's Ian Gillan especially in "Voluntary Slavery". In the same song, one of the most memorable vocal lines is easily Sjöblom's deep low delivery of "Do you believe, in alchemy?" There is also some Gentle Giant influence in the form of group vocal lines and acapellas, this is heard in the songs "Turn to Gravel" and the nearly 16-minute suite "Note".

The Void is an oddity in Beardfish's discography. This is the only one I've heard but it seems that this is the only album with really noticeable metal elements. Not all of the songs are metallic, but for metal fans that want to hear a different take on metal mixed with progressive rock, this is certainly a good choice. Some of the songs are pretty forgettable, but the great songs certainly make up for those.

Written on MMA (MetalMusicArchives) See review here: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/review/the-void/325467

Report this review (#1631544)
Posted Wednesday, October 12, 2016 | Review Permalink

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