My first introduction to Beardfish was Destined Solitaire, a very solid and almost frivolous effort drenched in seventies progressive rock. King Crimson, Yes, Genesis and Camel were major influences on that album. At first, I was very much in love with it, but after a while the sheer retro character of Beardfish started to annoy me somewhat. The band’s latest effort, entitled Mammoth, marks a slight change of pace.
The overall mood and atmosphere on Mammoth is a bit darker, certainly compared to Destined Solitaire and both Sleeping In Traffic albums. This becomes very clear in the opening seconds of The Platform. It’s a hard driving composition, somewhat more guitar driven than the band’s previous material. Green Waves and Without Saying Anything (featuring Ventriloquist) are other clear indications of Beardfish darker side.
The trademark retro seventies vibe may be less pronounced on Mammoth, it’s certainly there. Several types of vintage organs, synthesizers and keyboards still form the backbone of songs like And The Stone Said: “If I Could Speak”, Tightrope and Akakabotu. The references to the aforementioned bands like King Crimson, Yes, Genesis and Camel are there for everyone to see. The warm voice of singer and Beardfish’s main songwriter Rikard Sjöblom does the rest. He still reminds me of Edward Reekers of Kayak fame.
The tight and intelligent song writing makes Mammoth also a very enjoyable listening experience. Sjöblom and Co are clearly seasoned musicians, but they only use their skills to reinforce the texture and the character of the individual songs, instead of endless and often self indulgent solo spots.
Sound wise Mammoth has a warm and almost analog production, which enhances the signature seventies vibe of Beardfish.
I really like this new and darker direction on Mammoth. In combination with the light-heartedness it really strengthens the album’s inner dynamics. This feature combined with the intelligent and well crafted compositions makes this album an early highlight within the realm of progressive rock and metal this year. Impressive!
Written by Raymond Westland