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The Mars Volta - Amputechture CD (album) cover


The Mars Volta


Heavy Prog

3.84 | 534 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Prog Reviewer
4 stars As a kid I used to think GENTLE GIANT (or maybe HENRY COW, or maybe KING CRIMSON at their "FraKctured" mid-'70s zenith) played the most complex music ever to be pigeonholed as rock 'n' roll. But my late exposure to THE MARS VOLTA has forced me to raise that particular bar a notch or two.

If you take the same degree of difficulty, update the technology to 21st century standards, and add whatever drugs weren't available in the 1970s, the end result might sound a lot like The Mars Volta. Simply put, this is dangerous music: Progressive Rock with its velvet symphonic gloves off, and completely shorn of any residual innocence from Prog's golden age.

Converts will already know what to expect from the band's latest and arguably most accomplished album to date: an aural assault of Latino-tinged psychedelic metal, with a rich, busy blend of hyperactive English/Spanish lyrics and (in my own purely subjective knee-jerk reading) what almost sounds like a somewhat disturbing medical cyber-porn subtext. It's enough to scare away the more refined Progheads among us, but newcomers not yet conditioned to the group's unique ethos ought to at least give them a sporting chance: open your ears, and maybe your mind will follow.

There probably isn't much else to say about the album after more than 100 reviews so far (and counting), except to note that it isn't designed to work very well in smaller doses. But at the same time it also demands a lot of attention when played at length, and may sound a little uneven, if not downright chaotic, at first exposure. This is a band (and more power to them) unable to present even a simple interlude for solo acoustic guitar (as in the flamenco-flavored "Asilos Magdalena") without adding a token measure of techno-gimcrack embellishment.

But maybe the best thing to be said about the album (and the same applies to everything I've heard from the band) is that it won't wear out its welcome anytime soon: expect plenty of replays before it even starts to grow stale or familiar. Can the group continue to maintain the same high level of dizzy creativity for much longer? No one can answer that, but in the meantime The Mars Volta ought to be enjoyed for what they are: a welcome dose of shock therapy in a largely complacent musical culture.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


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