Album: The Void
Genre: Progressive Rock
In 2008 I reviewed the Beardfish’s Sleeping in Traffic: Part Two album. Now, in 2012 it seems somewhat odd to say I’m reviewing the third new album since then, and despite the frantic pace of putting out four albums in just over four years, I continue to be fascinated by this band. Their newest release is called The Void, and it manages to continue a balancing act that Beardfish has maintained over the last few albums. The Void pushes into new territory enough to be fresh to the ears of longtime fans, yet remains true to the core of the Beardfish sound. This feat is something many bands don’t seem to be able to do as time rolls on, either seeming in a constant state of pushing the envelope or becoming copies of themselves.
The Void is a return to the band’s heavier sound, with parallels to their Destined Solitaire album. For those unfamiliar with the band it can be compared to when The Flower Kings or The Tangent are “Heavy”, it’s a distinct prog-rock kind of heavy. Right from the opening track, “Voluntary Slavery”, the album shows it’s heavier edge is due mostly to the tones and sound of the album rather than the actual songwriting. The guitars on this especially are much dirtier than the previous album and add a fair amount of grit to the album that wasn’t seen on the heavily polished Mammoth. In what can be seen as a bit of a classic tradeoff, this general change in the sound of the album leads to an extra punch, but at the expense of an album not quite as crisp as the last. Still, as with most Beardfish recordings, the instruments do a fantastic job of all cutting through the mix to deposit each player’s parts easily into your ear.
Although the first half of the album would certainly give a lot of prog albums this year a run for their money, it’s not until “Ludvig & Sverker”, the seventh track that I think the album shows its best material. From there until the end The Void delivers classic Beardfish tracks one after another, including the fifteen minute epic “Note”. I doubt any fan of the band is going to be disappointed with The Void, and for any perspective new fans this album will be as good as any to test the waters. This band must have a blender in their kitchen, because they continue to combine some of the 70’s best sounds in a musical smoothie that goes done easy thanks to strong individual hooks and overall fantastic songwriting.
Nick’s Grade: 9.5/10