Genre: Progressive Rock
It could be surmised that being forced off of Dream Theater’s Progressive Nation tour in 2009 due to the financial difficulties of InsideOut was the worst thing that has ever happened to Beardfish. But really, was it all that bad? By simple being an act originally scheduled to play the tour the band saw more free promotion than many others will ever hope to get. At that time the band would have been supporting Destined Solitaire, but now, less than two years later after some light touring in Europe the band is set to release Mammoth, their sixth album.
The album begins with “The Platform”, an eight minute track that seems to have enough hooks for twenty minutes. The song seems to incorporate all the things Beardfish have done right over their career and I don’t think anyone who pops in this CD and hears this track will be anything other than excited for the rest of the album. The next track, “And the Stone Said” is the only true epic on the album and delivers everything you might expect from an epic, and from Beardfish. Four and a half minutes go by without vocals as the band delivers an interesting start the song which eventually takes shape as a somewhat more reserved tune featuring some amazing synth tones, big surprise there, I know.
Although not as musically stunning as some of the other tracks, “Tightrope” manages to be one of my favorites due to some beautiful and haunting parts, and the easily relatable lyrics about one-sided love that 99% of us have experienced at some points. Simple and to the point, the song truly shows the band at their most refined. Although the rest of the tracks have their strength I think “Akakabotu” deserves special mention. The five minute instrumental starts out with a simple base and throws in amazing leads left and right making it a melodic powerhouse.
Although Rikard Sjöblom and David Zackrisson put up great performances I think it’s bassist Robert Hansen that really shines on this album. His playing seems to generate more great musical moments than ever before and he is rather prominent in the mix, keeping his fantastic playing from being drowned out by the wonderful flourishes of his band mates. While I found Destined Solitaire to be a good album I felt the band was not hitting on all cylinders with the sound changes made after the Sleeping in Traffic albums. With Mammoth the band takes a big leap in refining that sound and ended up with a fantastic record. At this point most of the complete wackiness that was present in the band’s first few records is gone, but fantastic songwriting has remained as well as all new grooves and the always fantastic keyboard tones and playing of Rikard. The album is fresh and new, yet it is definitively Beardfish, just as it is certainly amazing.
Nick's Rating: 9.5/10