Let it be known that Beardfish may indeed become the leading progressive rock band coming into the 2010s. I consider that be a bold statement because the band composes interesting songs that seem so effortless, yet consistently awesome. I jumped aboard the Beardfish bandwagon in 2009 when they were announced to be a part of the Progressive Nation Tour 2009, alongside Pain of Salvation. After giving both Sleeping in Traffic Parts 1 & 2 dozens upon dozens of listens, I knew that Beardfish was something special in the current progressive scene. Both bands would be victims of the economic downturn. Unable to find financial support to get both bands to North America, they had to pull out of the tour. Beardfish turned around with a stellar release, Destined Solitude which equaled the greatness of Sleeping in Traffic.
For 2011, Mammoth is another fantastic release by the band, building upon their quirky progressive style that is both fun and smart. There is no hesitation with the new release as “The Platform” opens the album with all the Beardfish tropes that we have come to love. “And The Stone Said If I Could Speak” is the album’s sole major epic piece that instantly launches into a clever guitar-driven melody that, of course, goes nowhere one would suspect. Furthermore, somehow, the band is again able to prove that they can fit their whimsical lyrics into nearly any groove. Despite the length “And The Stone…” goes by in a breeze primarily because it offers so many wonderful events, such as a saxophone accompaniment towards the end.
“Tightrope” is a lovely little love song that exemplifies the bittersweet lyrics that the band excels in. “I’ll tell you I love you, even if you don’t.” I sympathize! “Green Waves” cancels out everything that came before it with a hard-driving groove and a call of war: “Sailors! Of the Seven Seas!” “Outside Inside” and “Akakabotu” are both instrumentals that put the record at a wholly different place just prior to the album’s fitting end, “Without Saying Anything.”
Mammoth is an exceptional album that feels like the band may have worked for several years on. The post-Progressive Nation Beardfish has not slowed down, and in fact, appears to have only become stronger. The album’s production is stellar and balanced, but not the vinyl edition, which has the spacial dynamics that the medium can evoke. Regardless, the album is a celebration of Beardfish’s intense, original sound and style.
So there you have it. Another fantastic Beardish release that should keep fans fed for quite some time. What Mammoth proves is that Beardfish continually writes albums better than the last, all the while remaining true and consistent to their style—which is still rather difficult to define entirely. In five years the band has released four albums of exceptional quality, and at this pace the band may never seem to slow down. Why should it? Beardfish fulfills a niche market that nods to the past and at the same time looks to the future. Whether Beardfish knows it or not, the band matches this generation’s sentimentality of nostalgia and progressing towards the unknown. They have expanded their difficult-to-define style in a small pocket where only they seem to exist. That’s fine with me. Beardfish forever.