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Beautiful Bedlam biography
BEAUTIFUL BEDLAM, much like their yin-yang band name suggests, deliver a melodic and manic blend of progressive/alternative rock music, with hints of jazz, metal, indie, etc., showcasing many different sound worlds from song to song and within. Formed in Melbourne, Australia in 2017 from the ashes of prog stalwarts A LONELY CROWD, BEAUTIFUL BEDLAM consists of brothers Luke (guitar) and Scott ANCELL (drums), James VAN STRIEN (bass) and Ross TAYLOR (Keys, vocals).

Their debut self-titled album, released May 1, 2021, will feature guest vocalists/musicians/friends from other Melbourne bands they have shared the stage with over the years. Due to this, the album has a community vibe, which will become a feature of future live shows with regular guest musicians to join them on stage. The first release/music video from the debut album dropped on New Years Day 2021 titled "Life Death & Cheers", featuring only the core members of BEAUTIFUL BEDLAM. The Song is a departure from some of the more explosive tracks on the album.

-----Bio written by the band-----

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3.92 | 64 ratings
Beautiful Bedlam

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 Beautiful Bedlam by BEAUTIFUL BEDLAM album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.92 | 64 ratings

Beautiful Bedlam
Beautiful Bedlam Heavy Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

3 stars This is the debut album by Melbourne-based prog band Beautiful Bedlam and was released last year. While Melbourne is a hotbed of music, as well as being one of my favourite cities, I am not aware of too many prog bands hailing from there apart from of course the mighty Aragon. Formed by Luke Ancell (guitars) and his brother Scott (drums, programming, backing vocals) who both used to be in A Lonely Crowd, along with Ross Taylor (keyboards, vocals) and James Van Strien (bass, vocals) this appears to be a mix between a band and a project as they also have six guest lead vocalists, and they mix up many different styles which has resulted in an album which for me is fractured and not as cohesive as many others seem to feel.

Opening track "Flaking Paint" is an absolute killer, dynamic, driving and in your face, bringing in huge elements of XTC with a jagged approach and plenty of powering guitars and riffs. It moves, changes, and is a wonderful introduction and at this point I was really excited about what was to come. "Breather" is another very solid number, plenty of guitars and with a female singer totally changing the approach from the first, but I could see a connection and I was sure we were on for a winner. Then came "Life, Death & Cheers (+ Slow Creepin')" and I was just staring at the speakers wondering what was going on? Rick Astley meets slow jazz perhaps? It just sounds totally out of keeping with what had gone before, and while I can see a link between that and the following song, by now my opinions on the album were changing somewhat, and the rest of the album continued in a manner which reinforced this.

Beautiful Bedlam are a band packed with ideas, so much so that they move in and out of different genres, and for me there is just too much on this album which I would not listen to for pleasure. It is not that the songs or performances are poor, just they are sitting within styles which I do not enjoy. But when they are good, they are excellent as there is material here which makes me sit up and pay close attention. Their use of xylophone sounds is very good indeed, and they are all wonderful musicians, although I must admit I would have preferred if they had tuned the drums somewhat differently as the sound is quite plastic throughout. There are plenty of reviewers who are giving this maximum marks, and I completely understand why that is the case, but this is not for me.

 Beautiful Bedlam by BEAUTIFUL BEDLAM album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.92 | 64 ratings

Beautiful Bedlam
Beautiful Bedlam Heavy Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars An album of delightfully diverse musical styles--each song seeming to explore something new and different, often projected by the seven different lead vocalists. 1. "Flaking Paint" (4:32) opens with a sound that is part XTC, part The Police, and part Paul Weller before the song reveals its fullness beneath the pleasant Fredrik Larsson/Carson Schnackenberg-like vocals of one of the band members (James or Ross). Interesting and engaging delivery of the lyrics. (8.5/10)

2. "Breather" (5:18) using Xen Havales in the lead vocalist slot, this jazz-rock expedition is full of melody and an upbeat liveliness that makes it a winner. It's only flaw/irritant is the heavier sections of distorted guitar chord play. (9.25/10)

3. "Life, Death & Cheers (+ Slow Creepin')" (6:05) another surprisingly 1980s jazz-pop-sounding song with a delightful feel and message. Great voice and vocal from either Ross or James. There is a wonderful NEW ORDER sound and feel to it all. Even the DEVIN TOWNSEND/ heavy pulses/sections work. The stark shift into the techno- percussed final two minutes is kind of weird, though. A top three song for me. (9.25/10)

4. "Two Thirds" (4:06) great chord choice for the electric guitar to arpeggiate in the opening is soon joined by the full band and another new lead singer--either James or Ross, the other band member. Throughout this album, so far, I am reminded of young musicians Carson Schnackenberg (THE ARBORIST), Fredrik Larsson (FREDDEGREDDE), and even Boston's oddly operatic metal band NATIVE CONSTRUCT. (9/10)

5. "Cocktail Crime Scene" (5:27) back to jazz, with an interesting layering use of MIDI-ed xylophone, piano, organ, harp, and marimba to carry the song within the bass, drum, and electric guitar power chords. (9/10)

6. "Black World" (4:26) funky grooves beneath the bluesy rock vocal of Paul Cooper. Interesting work from the bass, guitar, and keys. (8.5/10)

7. "Open World (+ Apparitions)" (5:48) opens sounding a bit like The Police's "Synchronicity" before turning into a more NATIVE CONSTRUCT/STARE AT THE CLOUDS-like atmospheric synth-metal song. Great work with the vocals-- both lead and multi-voice harmonized. (8.75/10)

8. "I Adore" (4:00) opens with a chord progression and sound a bit like AC/DC. Lead vocal duties are this time passed on to Markus Saastamoinen. Not my favorite song but interesting for the instrumental solos. (8/10)

9. "Dog's Breakfast" (2:57) sounds more like a musical idea that was only partially explored, partially developed, never taken to a serious conclusion. (4.25/5)

10. "Sweet Oblivion" (5:16) again, AC/DC comes to mind with this song's opening. Even into the development of the intro, I'm still thinking of 1970s classic rock "heavy metal" songs. Lead vocalist Richard Jeffries does little to dispel my presentiments. The angular guitar scales seem rather rudimentary as do the guitar power chords. The drumming is great and the bass and REO Speedwagon keyboard play are quite good. But, overall, there is nothing really special or ground-breaking here. (8.25/10)

11. "Silent to the End" (3:43) what starts out as an expression of theatric melodroma uses Michael Minehan's death metal voice to foray into darker territory. Entertaining but not really memorable or ground-breaking--even when Michael turns Maynard James Keenan at the 3:00 mark or when the keyboard play let's out its crazies in the fifth minute. (8.5/10)

12. "Pigment" (4:39) piano and growling vocals of Matt Belleville give this a very Gabriel Ricci sound and feel--a phenom that persists even as the song develops into a full-on metal song. (8/10)

Total Time 56:17

I am not a fan of these plastic-sounding drum skins. The bass is thick, the keyboards diverse and creative, the guitar play often too rudimentary, but the vocals and vocalists definitely make it interesting. A band with a lot of talent, a lot of ideas, a lot of promise, and, perhaps, a lot of youth.

B/3.5 stars; a wonderfully diversified collection of songs for this Australian band's debut; rated up for freshness and potential.

 Beautiful Bedlam by BEAUTIFUL BEDLAM album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.92 | 64 ratings

Beautiful Bedlam
Beautiful Bedlam Heavy Prog

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams

5 stars Such a fascinating album should vigorously rouse progressive rock fans out of the dark bed(lam). A promising Melbourne-based combo BEAUTIFUL BEDLAM made an impressive debut with the debut eponymous album out in May 2021. This creation involves massive potentiality and incredible impact for the audience, regardless of the very first shot. They say their musical scope is blended with lots of rock subgenres like authentic progressive, alternative, heavy, metal, or jazz, and we can find some more elements like ethnic, pop, or folk, via this album. Not simple nor typical but quite polyphyletic and suggestive one ... we could call them and their opus like this. Difficult explanation aside, this album can be enjoyed by almost all progressive rock fans - not only heavy / progmetal but also art rock / jazz rock ones. Their positive sound construction and brilliant development would ring our bell loudly.

Give a listen to the first track "Flaking Paint" that gets started with mysterious jazzy oriental flavour. This approach reminds me of the similarity to some Japanese jazz rock combos. Even metallic tension following the departure sounds pretty soft and smooth. We can feel some humour via this heaviness. But their soundscape is very challenging. Deep rhythmic masses directly kick our inner brain and catch our heart soon. Their chorus is perfectly energetic. Appropriate for their sound journey prologue. "Breather" is another charming one featuring Xen's crystallized voices. Her vocals are not only delightful but sledgehammer ... fit for such a complex, dignified song. Their performances are also excellent, fully with sound variations, soft or hard. Dramatic is the development, and impressive is the fusion of all instruments and voices. "Life, Death & Cheers" is not so heavy but poppy and enchanting. Yeah no problem there is such a pretty flower on the heavy-metallic turf.

"Cocktail Crime Scene" seasoned with black jazzy pepper is mysterious but amazing. They give us even avant-garde distortion here and there. Also this track says their soundscape is not only heavy nor artistic. "Black World", filled with loud, dark power and obvious intention, would call our memories of the garage alternative rock scene e.g. in Seattle in our younger days. On the contrary, fantastic keyboard plays and synthesizer-oriented weirdness knocks on our mind door in "Open World". Some metallic extremity in the middle part is also interesting. The last song "Pigment" has a similar impression to this part. "I Adore" is one of my favourite songs. I do think this stuff should be kinda superb combination of heavy but beautiful melodic appearances, complicated but strict rhythmic bases, and mysterious but enthusiastic chorus of theirs. Furthermore, they do not forget heavy but catchy lines all around (I guess non-prog rock fans feel acceptable for this one). "Silent To The End" possesses pretty serious phrases and risky vibes but prominent melodic movements can naturalize tough moments. What an elaboration, of course not only this track though.

Currently the progressive rock world wants to find a sort of bright hope through studio-based creations under the pandemic situation but let me say that I don't think any 'superficial' 'so-called' progressive measure is needed. This creation definitely has a musical power for the whole audience. Anyway, I love "Dog's Breakfast" as a friend of my favourite beverage, actually!

 Beautiful Bedlam by BEAUTIFUL BEDLAM album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.92 | 64 ratings

Beautiful Bedlam
Beautiful Bedlam Heavy Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic

4 stars New to the prog rock arena is the Melbourne, Australia band BEAUTIFUL BEDLAM which has released its self-titled debut album in 2021. Fronted by the Ancell brothers, guitarist Luke and drummer Scott, this band has its antecedents in A Lonely Crowd which released two experimental and heavy albums in the early 2010s but for the most part the Ancell brothers have been on a hiatus but with the release of their BEAUTIFUL BEDLAM project, it's clear that they have been hard at work crafting an intricately designed prog album suitable for the fickle crowds of the 21st century.

This is one of those bands that grabs you right from the getgo with sounds that are somewhat familiar but yet crafted in a manner that is very original and best of all doesn't dwell in the world of one trick ponies to fill up an album's worth of material. Not at all, in fact BEAUTIFUL BEDLAM as its moniker suggests walks the tightrope in offering easily accessible rhythmic and melodic constructs fortified with interesting juxtapositions of tones, timbres and time signature deviations with a stellar palette of 12 tracks that are quite distinct.

A bit difficult to pigeonhole, this album runs the gamut from emotive atmospheric keyboard drenched compositions such as "Two Thirds" which offer somewhat of a neo-prog connection with arpeggiated guitars, multi-layered atmospheric richness and emotive vocal deliveries to the jazzier side of things with "Cocktail Crime Scene" which displays a retro jazz experience with vibraphone sounds and swinging rhythmic drive. The album's opening "Flaking Paint" showcases the band's quirky indie pop sensibilities with staccato-rich guitar heft that alternates between clear smooth guitar sounds and thundering borderline metal stomps. The keyboards oft resemble the new wave music of the 1980s and the contrapuntal sound layering is quite brilliant.

While the album is quite adventurous in many parts such as the varying motifs of "Open World (+ Apparitions)," BEAUTIFUL BEDLAM excels at offering heavy crunchy guitar riffs that bring the band very close to metal territory but it's the layering effect of the keyboards, the jittery almost zolo time signatures and the abrupt change in dynamics from pastoral to pummeling that make this an exciting roller coaster ride of adventurous proggy yumminess! In many ways this album truly is furious BEDLAM tamed and pacified into true BEAUTY. The album starts out as confident but by the time you get to the latter half of the album with tracks like "I Adore," it gets more complex, louder and bold.

If any single element dominates the BEAUTIFUL BEDLAM soundscape, it would surely be contrast as the main gist is to juxtapose musical elements in order to heighten the wow effect. The time signatures are very unorthodox and although the album doesn't sound overtly jazzy, the time signature unconventionalities definitely break out some serious unorthodoxies for the rock universe including the world of prog. The diversity factor is heightened by the fact that in addition to the two vocal contributions of keyboardist Ross Taylor and bassist James Van Strien, there seven guest vocalists adding lead vocals to different tracks which almost makes this sound like a different band at various moments.

Given the many vocalists on board, this can leave some tracks sounding stronger or weaker than others depending on your preferences. For me i'm a bit underwhelmed by the second track "Breather" for some reason and the track "Life, Death & Cheers" rubs me the wrong way as the melody seems to remind me of some pop song from the wayback machine although i can't put my finger on exactly which one it could be! Other than those two tracks for me personally, BEAUTIFUL BEDLAM is an excellent collection of modern day prog tracks fueled with a fiery passion for detail and an impeccable attention to detail. The compositions are quite exhilarating and cleverly crafted, the musicianship is spot on and the production is absolutely perfect for the music at hand. The band never pulls off more than they can chew and despite the diverse elements on board, the album never loses its connective tissue which gives it a unified feel. This is a band i look forward to hearing more from in the future. Bravo!

 Beautiful Bedlam by BEAUTIFUL BEDLAM album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.92 | 64 ratings

Beautiful Bedlam
Beautiful Bedlam Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

5 stars As I was collecting records and 8-tracks in my youth through the 70's, I was always excited by the albums that had a lot of variety on them. It seems, back then, that many bands explored different styles in their music and nobody seemed to complain about it. One of the main examples of this was what was one of my favorite bands back then, Queen. It seemed that they could go from one genre to another with hardly a blink. Their album "News of the World" is one of my favorites. One minute they are playing anthem rock, then next is punk, then they could do a broadway- style song, industrial and alternative, and make it all sound believable, yet their albums were still cohesive. It seems that in the last 3 decades that variety has been frowned upon with critics saying that when a band explores several genres and styles that they don't have any focus. In some cases, this is true as it needs to be believable or it just sounds hokey.

I say all this to introduce a new band called "Beautiful Bedlam". This band, though new by name, is not new to the world of progressive music. It was founded by the Ancell brothers; Luke on guitar and Scott on drums. They were previously members of the band "A Lonely Crowd" which has been in the PA database for a while and had received several accolades from the members that reviewed their albums almost a decade ago. One thing that is similar in these two bands is in the seemingly contrasting names and that is on purpose. What I mean is, how can a crowd by lonely and how can bedlam be beautiful? This contrast reflects, in a way, the music that is created, and, after hearing Beautiful Bedlam's self-title debut album, completely feasible. The bedlam is absolutely beautiful here.

When I think of bedlam, I usually think of a chaotic mess. Well, this music is far from chaotic, but it is definitely original and sometimes quite experimental. But all in a very enjoyable way. You can tell that the musicians involved in this band are all accomplished musicians, and you can feel the strong camaraderie in the way they play their music. The core group is made up of the Ancel brothers, but also James Van Strien on bass and vocalist/keyboardist Ross Taylor. These four musicians prove time and time again through the album that they are certainly capable, that they take their music seriously and that they can easily hold your attention through each and every track. However, this was not enough for them. This album is loaded with special guests that mostly come from their native Australia. Many of the guests are vocalists that take the lead on many of the songs here, which is another reason why the variety meter is set on high for this album. But don't worry! Every time the music veers off in another direction, it is done believably and excellently. Just know, when you go into this album, that you are going to be treated to high quality musicianship and a lot of differing styles. Not only that, you get high quality progressive style all the way through the album. The music is laced with jazz, alternative, straightforward rock and blues, heavy (almost extreme) metal and even classical, all of this tied together with a strong progressive foundation. However, the band is overall, none of these, except for progressive. So, why isn't this listed under Eclectic? Well, the progressive style is more heavy than anything, but it isn't metal (at least most of the time), and the outbursts (on 3 of the tracks) of some of the vocals might be a bit too extreme for some. But, the important thing is to take this album as a whole, as that is how it works best.

"Flaking Paint" gives you a great overview of what to expect. There is a jazz-funk feel to the guitar at first, but bursts of heaviness come in and out like it all belongs there. Then there is the cool synth sound that comes in giving it all an almost neo-prog sound. The complexity of the melody line is something you can easily get used to, and also expect to hear through the album. Excellent opener. "Breather" then mellows things out a bit, but not in the progressive sense as it remains complex, but the biggest surprise here is the female vocal lead by Xen Havales. It's one you could say is airy and thick at the same time. There are some nice riff runs that follow a progressive jazz scale and the vocal harmonies use some nice chord structures. There is a lot of great stuff going on in this one including changing styles and meters. "Life Death & Cheers" takes the smooth jazz route, this time veering more into a neo-prog sound. It's a surprisingly happy sounding track with just a touch of heaviness in the guitars from time to time just to keep things real. This track is paired with "Slow Creepin'" which is more ominous final statement to the previous track. Interesting percussive sounds and a low synth bass make the chimes on the top seem sinister.

"Two Thirds" feels a bit darker than the previous track and continues with a somewhat complex melody line. The darker feel continues even when the instrumentation gets more minimal, then a creepier vocal sneaks its way into the mix. This one also has a more alternative feel to it, but the progressive style is still 100 percent there with some nice jazz chord changes that don't always come at the places you expect. This all flows into "Cocktail Crime Scene" that mixes a fast-paced lounge jazz feel with a bit of heavy guitar and synth alternating back and forth and at times playing together. It's a dynamic instrumental that will keep you guessing all the way through its 5 minute run time. "Black World" features guest Paul Cooper on the lead vocals. There is something sinister in his vocals that lies under the surface in the restrained sections, but gets to come out more in the heavier chorus. Again, the music takes you through so many moods that it's hard to pinpoint what the style is other than progressive.

"Open World" features some very cool vocal harmonics right from the beginning, plus you get a nice unpredictable structure that is prevalent through the track. The appearance of the piano is a nice touch that doesn't distract from the heavy progressive passages. Again things alternate from a neo-prog feel to a much heavier feel throughout the song. And get ready for the harsh outbursts in the 2nd half with some pretty impressive vocal screaming. This track is paired with "Apparitions" which takes the track to a more experimental and industrial sounding weirdness. "I, Adore" has the lead vocal talents of Markus Saastamoinen which really comes at you full force when the vocal gets multi-tracked into a wall of harmonic heaviness. The track might seem rather unassuming in the beginning, but it will definitely stand out to you by the time its over. "Dog's Breakfast" is a really interesting and somewhat kooky quasi- instrumental (kooky when the background spoken vocals come in which sounds like a crazy lady talking to her dog). This odd middle part is bookended by some crazy guitar work.

"Sweet Oblivion" features Richard Jeffrey on lead vocals. His vocals are also quite dynamic which matches the changing style of the track. There seems to be a marked increase in the heaviness on this track which actually increases through the rest of the album. It's not all about the heaviness though as there are still some nice jazzy passages still mixed in there, especially the nice keyboard solo in the instrumental break of this track. "Silent to the End" is a bit of false advertising as this album refuses at this point to be silent at all. Michael Minehan has the guest vocal spot on this one and it seems that he is more of an extreme singer, though the track itself doesn't sound like it's starting that way. Wait until he goes into the bridge and listen to that impressive growl. And the ending is quite a mind blower. The real blast is saved for the last track "Pigment" though with guest vocalist Matt Belleville. Starting with a sinister piano and some spooky sound effects, this one will put you on edge. This vocalist also sounds like an extreme singer, but this time, once the growling starts, it doesn't let up very much. The band definitely wanted to leave you with an impression, and it does. The track isn't all about noise though, it still has times to weave in and out of styles and even builds to quite the explosive climatic ending.

The fact that the band uses many different guests was no accident, nor is it a one time thing as they plan to use all of the guests in their upcoming concerts and also incorporate guests on future albums. I know this much though, that if they continue on in the same way that they have in this album, I will definitely be keeping a close eye (and ear) on them. This is one of the most enjoyable, entertaining and diverse albums I have heard in 2021 and is on joining my list for top albums of the year. There is definitely something for everyone on this album, but hopefully the entire album will be as intriguing and exciting to you as it is to me. It's a very impressive debut album. 5 glowing stars!

Thanks to tcat for the artist addition.

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