Call the new Beardfish album, The Void, the latest twist on a successful theme.
Launched in 2001, the Swedish quartet has consistently delivered quality music built for fans of ‘70s prog rock. And while the comparisons to legends of the genre such as King Crimson, Yes and Genesis can only be viewed as a positive thing, it’s also fair to call them a cop-out for people that have only scratched the surface of Beardfish’s brand of music. The simple fact is that the deeper one goes into The Void, the more you’ll realize the band has an identity all its own.
“We don’t have a problem with people comparing us to those bands because, for sure, we grew up listening to King Crimson, Yes and Genesis,” says vocalist/keyboardist Rikard Sjöblom. “King Crimson was one of the reasons we started Beardfish in the first place, but that’s not the only kind of music that we listen to. We always try to put our own spin or our own view on things. All four of us are music lovers; we’re into all sorts of music styles, which is why the new album takes the twists and turns that it does. It’s fun to be able to surprise people.”
With that in mind, for all the trademark Beardfish-isms – the jazz-flavoured piano-led ‘Seventeen Again’, the dynamic-laden epic ‘Note’ (clocking in at almost 16 minutes), or luscious blues-based ‘Where The Lights Are Low’ – The Void also offers up a brazen metal-influenced edge. By no means is this the first time the band has cranked up the distortion and the attitude on an album, but as Sjöblom tells it Beardfish did hit a metal comfort zone on certain parts of the new record.
“All four of us really like metal, so it’s something that has been cooking for quite some time. We wanted to make a couple of songs that are slightly heavier. On our previous album, Mammoth (2011), we had a couple of songs that were leaning a bit more towards the heavier side, that were a bit more metal. Afterwards, though, we sort of felt that we’d chickened out when we recorded those songs. We didn’t crank the amps up as much as we wanted to, and we trusted other people a little too much with how the album was supposed to sound. With these new songs (‘Voluntary Slavery’, ‘Turn To Gravel’, ‘This Matter Of Mine’) we knew we had to make them sound like they do when we rehearse them and play them live. That’s not an easy task, getting that rough edge in the studio, but I think we pulled it off.”
Sjöblom is the principal songwriter in Beardfish, although there are a couple songs in the course of the band's history that were written together. As with previous albums, some tracks on The Void were incomplete when he presented them and they worked as a group to flesh them out. Sjöblom is quick to point out that although he does the lion's share of the songwriting, his band mates are the catalysts that make it happen.
“When we play music together it always spurs me on to continue writing. I don’t think Beardfish would sound the same at all if it was me and three other guys. Being the four guys in the band that we are, as soon as we play something it’s automatically the Beardfish sound. There’s a trademark quality to our music that’s hard to wash away. The new album, regardless of where we took the music from song to song, it sounds like us (laughs).”