In this inaugural review in 2015, I’d like to tell you all about a band called Beardfish. I first wrote about this band back in 2012, when my fledgling reviews were just brief paragraphs and not book-length digressions and ramblings. Beardfish is a Swedish progressive rock band that has always flown under the radar. They sound like they would be plucked right from the 1970s, especially with their Hammond B3 organ. If you’re unfamiliar with that particular instrument, or other organs used in rock music, chances are you’ve heard a musician use one. Have you listened to Procol Harum’s Whiter Shade of Pale? How about Deep Purple’s Hush? What about the song Light My Fire by the Doors? There was also a review this year in 2016 that I wrote about the band Perihelion Ship, who love the Hammond B3. If you haven’t heard any of those songs, stop reading this and go listen to them all right now. I strongly advise it so you know what I’m referencing.
I apologize in advance if this youtube link is improper, but I searched for an official Beardfish channel or their record label’s, but they had nothing about this album. Therefore, I was able to find the entire album uploaded by someone named marianoisis. If need be, let me know and I can take it down on this review. Until then, let’s talk about this album. It’s called +4626-Comfortzone. No, really, that’s its title. I’m not sure what the number exactly is for, but Comfortzone actually represents the fact that the band wants to reach outside of their comfort zone and they do just that in this album. Despite this album being very dark in areas, both lyrically and tonally, this album is very accessible especially compared to some of their other material like The Void or Sleeping in Traffic. The topics of the songs are not very uplifting, but they’re emotionally quite powerful.
There were a few tracks that stood out, even though the album did not have many weak spots. As you may have gathered by now, I’m a huge fan of unusually long tracks, and the track Ode to the Rock’n’Roller is 15 and a half minutes. It truly is just that, and very clearly pays homage to the classic rock gods like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and The Who. If you disagree about Deep Purple being in the “god” category, they were incredibly influential on rock music and are one of the pioneers of the great music that I listen to today, like this album! Otherwise, the track Comfort Zone was much shorter but almost as complex and really made me think. I actually sat down last year and listened to this song four times in a row while focusing on a different part each time, and I pulled a lot from it.
Beardfish’s complexity was in full form for +4626-Comfortzone. On the fringe of the popular prog metal acts of Dream Theater, Iron Maiden and Mastodon lie bands like Beardfish. They’re right on the cusp of stardom, and even though they have critical acclaim and a cultlike fanbase, for some reason they don’t garner headliner status. I would put Beardfish along some of the other big prog metal bands in terms of talent, but instead they appear to be in the second-tier domain with other great bands like Haken, Pain of Salvation and Animals as Leaders. If they’re second best, the best certainly need to step up their game because Beardfish is nipping at their heels with albums like Comfort Zone.
The previous rating for this album was only out of five stars, in which I gave it a 4/5. Updating this to the 2016 ratings unit standards, it has been bumped up to an amazingly solid 14/15. This is the type of album that requires multiple albums to really get into it, and after a years and a half of digesting, this album may have deserved to be higher up than 8. It’s so complicated and deep, and there are things I picked up on listening to it in the car one time 16 months after the release. That’s Beardfish for you…always complicated.