Beardfish: Mammoth

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Beardfish: Mammoth
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Beardfish: Mammoth
Progressive Rock
InsideOut Music
March 8th, 2011
Release length: 40:02
Myspace
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Beardfish is a Progressive Rock band that formed in Sweden around 2001. Since then, the band has issued five full-length efforts, with Mammoth being their sixth. The music the band plays isn’t all that original or unique, taking many ques from early Progressive Rock acts like Yes and Rush, and it really shows at times. Between the group’s lighter, yet rather typical Progressive Rock sounds, and their ability to put in some atmosphere where needed to make the release take the listener away without really treading into a Space Rock category, Mammoth has the potential to be one of the band’s finest releases, but does this potential actually deliver?

In some ways, yes, the album does deliver, but at the same time there are moments where it just doesn’t. The material is very simple, and often really doesn’t feel like it has any energy behind it. The vocals are very soft, yet have a decent range that often isn’t explored past that restrained little light singing, mostly because the music never really calls for the vocals to have a much higher range. When it does, it sounds nice, but sometimes, like with the second very brief higher pitch section on “And the Stone Said”, the vocals can crack and are just left in the mix. This track also seems to branch out past the trypical Progressive Rock concepts, as it has what sounds more like a keyboard representation of something one might hear on a mid-career Beatles album when it really slows down, or even something one might hear on more adult contemporary material in keyboards. It sounds alright, and for the slow tempo it is, you don’t expect energy. However, the saxophone solo that comes in around half way through pretty much blows away the entire performance in the song, as it introduces the first sign of any real emotion or even energy, the latter of which actually picks up after that solo and makes the song somewhat enjoyable before treading the border of Space Rock with it’s typical Spacey keyboards taking over. This track offers various different styles of Rock, many suddenly jerked into the flow of the song, random moments of emotion, and varying sections of energy in an over fifteen minute time span that seems to drag on after the first four minutes, though not all of the song after that feels boring or bland.

With “And the Stone Said” eating up a good chunk of time on this release and really being a song that seems to collect random ideas that sound good and flow together, it doesn’t shine that great a light on the rest of the material. “The Platform” is an alright to start off with, being a nice little upbeat track that is actually entertaining for the full eight minutes of the song. While not the most engrosing, energetic, or even that original sounding song, it’s well done and that lighter atmosphere just makes the song more relaxing then anything. Of course “Tightrope” has a much more airy, upbeat musical approach then “The Platform”, and the spacey keyboards here and there work well to add a little extra kick to the song before going into the most upbeat chorus this band could possibly turn out, fitting that early Progressive Rock sound well, but at the same time having more of a Pop feel to it from around the same time, feeling like a song with a little influence from The Monkees, or bands similar to them. But, for all the upbeat material, there are other approaches taken with the music that are far more satisfying then these.

“And the Stone Said” ran the gambit on this album, and it featured some darker moments, and some emotional, energetic sections. “Green Waves” features a similar darker atmosphere sometimes, though having more of a general Hard Rock attitude, and often the Hard Rock approach in the chords and distortion. There’s no light atmosphere, no real bordering Space Rock sections, and no early Pop music influences to it, just old fasioned well done Rock, and it sounds great. There’s plenty of energy in this song by everyone, especially the vocalist, though the music is actually pretty simple, and it really just captivates the listener from start to finish. “Akakabotu” is another track that incorporates some emotion, though the energy is limited for the most part until around the half way point. The song is more an instrumental, but the saxophpone really brings in some emotion to the song, especially when it picks up, sounds distorted, and reallyc omes off as the player going absolute crazy on it to match the build up the music had reached. The rest of the instruments do a good job, and really just seem to stand in the background to give the saxophone the spotlight, which works in the song’s favor. While the rest of the material on this release isn’t as energetic, there’s some more emotion brought into it, especially in the vocals, and is a little more enjoyable then the first few tracks that started the album off.

What hinders Mammoth is the lack of emotion in some songs, or the very random insertion of it. For the most part, the album is light, soothing experience along the lines of pioneers and legends of the early Progressive Rock style, and there’s no denying it. However, the band does seem to move into various other Rock elements through their Progressive journey on Mammoth. It’s far from a bad album, but the songs that have emotion in them of any kind clearly come out on top and leave you wanting to come back again at some point, while the first few songs are good, but will actually leave you feeling like just turning off the CD and walking away until you get past the twenty minute mark, and even then the material hasn’t even picked up yet. Had there been a little more emotion and energy to some of the songs, instead of just coming off as a group of people playing instruments to be light without any real drive, this album really could have been something special. But, for what it is, it’s a good release worth checking out by the Prog community, and will still have you coming back here and there to listen to some of the better tracks off the release.

01. The Platform – 8:06
02. And the Stone Said – 15:08
03. Tightrope – 4:33
04. Green Waves – 8:54
05. Outside/Inside – 1:44
06. Akakabotu – 5:41
07. Without Saying Anything (feat. Ventriloquist) – 8:11
Overall Score: 7/10


Digital review copy of this release provided by InsideOut Music.