Beardfish - Mammoth

7 songs
52:13 minutes
***** ****


Some bands take years between albums. Beardfish from Sweden used to not only release new records in a regular one year rhythm, but even filled them with over seventy minutes each time. When they skipped last year and now present the only fifty-two minute short Mammoth, I was starting to worry. I am kidding, because many bands can’t even come up with that amount of new music in that same time span.

A band like Beardfish shouldn’t be expected to surprise their target audience, and their newest and already sixth album sees the retro proggers more or less exactly where they left us two years ago. There are minor changes, to prevent you from getting the impression to listening to the same album all over again, and that’s a good thing in my opinion. Mammoth starts with the eight minute long The Platform, a typical example of Swedish retro prog that tastes as yummy as everybody’s favourite IKEA köttbullars. The rhythm section may be hitting it a little harder than in the past, giving the band a certain yet very welcome hard rock edge. This is followed by the CD’s magnum opus And The Stone Said: If I Could Speak, a quarter hour milestone that we have come to expect and enjoy from every self-respecting progressive rock band. The four and half minute Tightrope is the CD’s shortest song, and although it’s an utterly cheesy ballad, Beardfish still manage to make it thoroughly enjoyable with its sweet mellotron melody that eventually doesn’t sound as streamlined as it starts out to be. The only sore moment comes with Green Waves, a nine minute excursion into hard rock territory with harsh vocals that must have been intended as a tribute to early King Crimson but as a matter of fact is the album’s only weaker moment. The short solo piano piece Outside/Inside segues into another instrumental titled Akakabotu which despite the lack of vocals is a pleasant rollercoaster ride through the proggy universe with a pleasant saxophone part which reminds of very early Swedish prog rock. The album concludes with the two-parted Without Saying Anything (feat. Ventriloquist) in a typical fashion.

Mammoth is a good twenty minutes shorter than your typical Beardfish album, but that is strangely enough also one of its major strengths. The Swedes are acting more compact than in the past, and their occasionally harder playing sets them pleasantly apart from their compatriots The Flower Kings and Kaipa whose last efforts were to sugary for my taste buds. Beardfish once again proved that they may not be the best known, but certainly most amazing progressive rock band from Sweden.

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