BEARDFISH — The Void (review)

BEARDFISH — The Void album cover Album · 2012 · Metal Related Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
adg211288
The Void is the seventh album to be released by Swedish progressive rock group Beardfish. The album was released in 2012 and packs a massive seventy minutes running time across ten tracks, which includes a near sixteen minute four part epic entitled Note. There is also a bonus track available which is an alternate (solo piano) version of the song Ludvig & Sverker.

Despite being aware of them for many years, it wasn’t until this album that I actually gave Beardfish the time of day. I can’t say I’m sure why that is but for some reason any and all hype I heard about them for their past albums, which include Sleeping in Traffic Parts One and Two (2007 and 2008 respectively) and Mammoth (2011), failed to motivate me in any way to explore the band’s music. What eventually did it I guess was when someone told me that Beardfish, whom can be considered an eclectic progressive rock band, may have gone metal, and with me being a metal fan first and foremost, I was finally intrigued enough to pay attention to Beardfish.

In actuality the whole Beardfish going metal thing is only half true. After listening to it if you were to directly ask me if The Void is a metal album then the answer I would give you would be a no. If on the other hand you asked me if The Void has anything to do with metal at all, then I’d answer yes, because for this album Beardfish added metal as an ingredient in their eclectic sound so while The Void isn’t a metal album in its entirety, you will find parts to the very varied music that are driven by heavy guitar riffs and in a showcase of just how metal influenced the album is there are also instances of the death growling vocal style common to extreme metal music, which is the most evident aspect to the music that shows just how far Beardfish are willing to take things in the metal direction. If you also asked me if progressive metal fans would find this album interesting, then as a progressive metal fan, I’d say that one is a definite yes.

I haven’t heard any of the band’s prior work in full, but given their association with progressive rock music the inclusion of metal in The Void may cause a bit of fan alienation, but I’m confident that due to the experimental nature of progressive music the majority of fans will be able to keep an open mind with The Void, and appreciate what the band has tried to do here. Progressive music should not be constrained by any genre boundaries after all.

None of this of course addresses the real point of a review however, which is to say whether the album is any good. The Void is what I’d call a solid album. It’s good, executes its particular style well, but ultimately doesn’t come across as anything particularly special within its style either. It’s a great album overall but what The Void suffers from the most is that it’s both a mixed bag of styles and it terms of quality. The former is what makes the album what it is but the latter I obviously could do without. It’s mostly a consistency issue that keeps The Void off of the top two tiers of my rating scale. The album showcases both mind-blowing progressive music, such as a track like Seventeen Again, which is one of the most quirky on the album, but because Beardfish shows themselves capable of top tier work, it has the unfortunate side affect of highlight tracks that are good but feel like filler in comparison. Unfortunately I also have to include Note, the epic, on the filler side of things because this track, try as I might see get it to click with me, just seems to drag on needlessly. It has its moments but there are two few and far between for the track to work and the good ideas could easily have been packed into one shorter and more cohesive song. More so the tail end of this rather long album does seem to indicate a loss of steam compared to the earlier tracks.

I expect that, given the regard I know they have obtained in the past, that if I were to go back and explore some of their past releases I’d find that Beardfish have made stronger albums than The Void that I could appreciate more, even in the knowledge that those albums weren’t metal infused as with this one (though I’ve read that the sound heard on The Void was hinted at on Mammoth). All the same The Void wasn’t overall a bad introductory album to their music and a ‘great album’ tier rating is just about deserved.

7.7/10

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven (http://metaltube.freeforums.org) on 13/09/12)
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