It was back in August 2012 that I first came in contact with “The Void”, the 7th studio album by the Swedish Prog Rock quartet Beardfish,  and it’s safe to say that my love and appreciation for this truly remarkable gem has been steadily growing ever since!

As I am sure you can all appreciate, I was one of those people who were eagerly anticipating the release of new Beardfish material, and so sheer excited gripped me when it was announced that I was to review the band’s latest offering “+4626-Comfortzone”.

Convinced that I was in for another real treat, I began listening to the ten compositions on offer.

In the period between the release of “The Void” and this latest ‘beauty’, I found myself quite often indulging in the works of Peter Gabriel era Genesis, so influences of the music of the said group in “+4626-Comfortzone” became quite apparent from the word ‘go’.

It’s the great chemistry between Rikard Sjoblom’s varied vocal performances and David Zackrinsson’s guitar harmonies which draws such well-deserved comparisons, but the real star here is bassist Robert Hansen.

When not offering tons of support to Sjoblom’s moody/exacerbated deliveries, Hansen’s irresistible low register frequencies have become mainly responsible for some of the most impressive musical landscapes that I have come in contact with in recent years.

Add a few healthy doses of Queen, Yes and Pain Of Salvation into the mix and what you get in return is an album that is as much technically challenging as it is accessible and thoroughly entertaining.

It is Zackrinsson’s moody guitar harmonies in the short opening ditto “The One Inside Part One – Noise In The Background” which signals the beginning of another beautiful musical journey – a journey that revisits the glorious 70s with much gusto in the thematically varied, harmony-driven opus “Hold On”.

Barely managing to to keep up with the song’s numerous rhythmical/thematic changes, I decided to follow a different approach from that point onwards and thus completely surrendered to the charms of “Comfort Zone” – a nine and a half minute emotional maelstrom whose impressive melodies are bound to keep me good company in the years to come.

More up-tempo in beat and far more dramatic in its appeal, “Can You See Me Now?” finds Sjoblom using vocal formulae first made famous By Pain Of Salvation’s Daniel Gildenlow while in the follow-up “King” heavy guitar riffs and solid bass lines are competing as to who will win your support and appreciation.

Some of the best tunes in Rock are written with mainly the assistance of an acoustic guitar and “The One Inside Part Two – “My Companion Through Life” comes as proof to the validity of the said statement.

Heavy guitar riffs and Yes-style syncopated rhythmical patterns characterise “Daughter/Whore” while the fifteen and a half minute “If We Must Be Apart (A Love Story Continued)” finds the quartet successfully combining every genre of Rock music under the sun to create a diverse but immensely coherent body of music.

More healthy experimentation can be found in the groove-laden “Ode To The Rock’N’Roller”, a composition which features the most vitriolic and, at the same time, meaningful/impressive lyrics in the whole album while the moody keyboard melodies and warm bass tones of “The One Inside Part Three – Relief” provide a sad but necessary conclusion to this glorious musical journey.

I confess that there was a moment I time when I truly believed that Beardfish will never managed to produce an album that would be superior to “The Void” but after having spent a solid two and a half weeks in the company of “+4626-Comfortzone” I am more than happy to recognise that the artistic peak that previously felt impossible to reach has well and truly been conquered!

Music journalists often use elaborate words in their attempt to attract people’s attention towards a given release but there are no words capable of describing what a special album “+4626-Comfortzone” really is. Just make sure that you get your hands on it – you will really thank me for that later!

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