Beardfish
The Void


4.8
classic

Review

by Greg Fisher STAFF
August 30th, 2012 | 221 replies | 19,527 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Beardfish push the boundaries of progressive rock delivering their most hard-edged and ominous record to date.

It's difficult to imagine the current progressive rock scene without Beardfish. The Swedish quartet, fronted by extremely talented Rikard Sjöblom, have gained deserved popularity among the fans of the genre releasing six note-worthy records over the course of the last ten years. Their vintage style might have clearly derived from such titans as King Crimson, Frank Zappa and Gentle Giant in the beginning, yet they've managed to establish their own identity throughout their career with music that has always seemed more melodic and playful when likened to their contemporaries. The breakthrough for the group came with last year's Mammoth which has been the most consistent display of the band's style to date, while even further emphasizing the fact that their conspicuous success lies in boundless eclecticism.

The Void pushes the stylistic boundaries to the new limits. The heaviness that was hinted on the previous disc shows significant expansion. Aside from relying on exclusively raw production, the band turns up the amps and builds their sonic assault on distorted riffs to remarkably intense, ravishing effect. After a brief spoken word prologue, “Voluntary Slavery” kicks off with frenetic heavy metal guitar play, thumping bass lines, thunderous drum fills and enticing vocal harmonies. The track soars in its grandiose chorus giving Sjöblom an opportunity to show off his routinely great vocal skills. While also undeniably heavy, “Turn To Gravel” is another beast altogether with its chugging lead riff, sludgy shredding in the verse and throbbing bass providing the track with some tasteful dissonance. Elsewhere, the technicality of progressive metal is particularly noticeable in heady “This Matter Of Mine” which revolves around plenty of wonderfully quirky transitions.

As the title suggests, The Void is thematically concerned about the subject of loss and the struggle to heal emotional wounds. Not only is this grim subject matter expressed in metallic songs, but also it makes its presence felt in blues-inspired ones. Unlike many outfits, Beardfish realize that blues has an evil power when appropriately arranged and thus they superbly implement it into their sound in order to create the brooding atmosphere of darkness in the second half of the disc. Southern groove along with Hammond organs propel “He Already Lives In You,” an oddly compelling account of murder and the feeling of guilt that's caused by it. Following suit “Where The Lights Are Low” is a blues-soaked lament that marks the biggest departure from the foursome's signature sound.

Despite all these stylistic excursions, Beardfish don't really abandon their own refined style. The foreboding vibe may be prevailing, but on the expansive 70-minute album there's still plenty of time for the band to pursue their well-trodden path of sublime progressive rock. In fact, several songs on here rank among the quartet's most instantly engaging work. Keys-laden “They Whisper” is a beautifully textured composition that effectively builds to its mesmerizing climax referencing the likes of Gentle Giant and King Crimson in the process, whereas instrumental “Seventeen Again” would be an excellent soundtrack for any silent movie due to its conveniently playful nature. The song bursts with theatricality that also can be found in “Note,” a 16-minute-long epic that touches upon the multitude of styles with unabashed grandeur.

Overall, The Void is a multi-faceted endeavour that strikes a perfect balance between boisterous and elaborate, which is the chief reason of its tremendous appeal. Its broadly implied progressiveness stems from sheer spontaneity rather than calculation or self-indulgence. That's why, Beardfish are head and shoulders above their copious peers and their new release is prone to rank sky high on many year-end lists.



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user ratings (103)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
LudsWig
August 30th 2012



254 Comments


I love this band.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
August 30th 2012



7162 Comments

Album Rating: 4.8

It's easily the best progressive album I've heard this year.

The preview:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZ28IBH7zCA

Digging: Floor - Oblation

AsoTamaki
August 30th 2012



2525 Comments


Oh, nice. Forgot this was coming out this week. Seems like it lived up to expectations. Good review.

ZedO
August 30th 2012



1096 Comments


good review, will check this

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2012



18213 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Haven't heard this in full yet but what I have heard from it rules.

Good job on the review as usual, pos'd.

Digging: Benoit Pioulard - Hymnal Remixes

CaptainDooRight
August 30th 2012



26444 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

omg auto pos

Digging: Deniro Farrar - The Patriarch II

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2012



14508 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nice review, I'll have to give this a listen.

Digging: Atomic Ape - Swarm

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
August 30th 2012



3160 Comments


sounds really good, I have to get this. pos.

Digging: Chevelle - La Gargola

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
August 30th 2012



5612 Comments


Read the summary and was sold instantly.

Will read the review tomorrow.

Digging: Mekong Delta - In A Mirror Darkly

greg84
Staff Reviewer
August 30th 2012



7162 Comments

Album Rating: 4.8

The record needs some time to sink in, but when it sinks in it's awesome. So yeah, highly recommended.

Ok Voivod.

CaptainDooRight
August 30th 2012



26444 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

feature



linguist2011
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2012



1777 Comments


I've not really heard that much about Beardfish, bu I have been well aware of their significance in their respective genre. The review is very convincing, but I do love to get into new Prog records as well as old ones.

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
August 30th 2012



14508 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

liking this more than Mammoth

LifeAsAChipmunk
August 30th 2012



4854 Comments


oh man, gotta check this out.

CaptainDooRight
August 31st 2012



26444 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

album is amazing

Piglet
August 31st 2012



4644 Comments


br00tiful m/

greg84
Staff Reviewer
August 31st 2012



7162 Comments

Album Rating: 4.8

br00tiful indeed and I slightly prefer it to Mammoth too.

cb123
August 31st 2012



1963 Comments


was waiting for the Greg review of this haha seems like ill have to check this out, Mammoth was the first album of theirs that i enjoyed after trying a few of their others before

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
August 31st 2012



18213 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Mammoth is awesome. Can't wait to give this a proper spin.

I'll probably order a hard copy soon.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
August 31st 2012



7162 Comments

Album Rating: 4.8

@cb123:
I think their albums before Mammoth was quite hit-or-miss, but still many people seem to really enjoy them. Glad you anticipated this review.

Everybody should also give this a spin:
http://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/44307/Gungfly-Lamentations/

It's the solo project of Rikard from Beardfish. It's kind of similar to this one, if lighter in tone.



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