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The Mars Volta - Amputechture CD (album) cover


The Mars Volta


Heavy Prog

3.87 | 572 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars Following the success and artistic freedom of "Frances the Mute", the Mars Volta take a direction that greatly disappoints this reviewer.

On "Amputechture" the extensive jamming - think "Cassandra Gemini" - has been greatly cut back, along with the noise that helped bridge between compositions. This is perhaps a wise move if they want to appeal to the pure prog audience but frustrates because of what is left behind; a lot of songs here suffer from the inability to gel, and instead of the smooth transitions we would have been treated to on "Frances" we get sudden jumps from passage to passage. It's still a wild ride, but this reviewer far prefers being lost in the Mars Volta's fog to this transparency.

The psyched-out latin touches are back in abundance and represent some of the most luscious moments on "Amputechture", and these tracks ARE hazy and fluid, so no complaints about those. "Tetragrammaton" is the first extended track and starts promisingly with a rather unnatural chord sequence which keeps you on your toes - that's great fun but it heightens the disappointment when the song settles into the A and B verses, because they're TOO catchy! Elements of progressiveness are high in this track, in a neo- way, but the vocal lines are too sugary for this reviewer, who prefers that artistic rock distances itself from pop music; some songs on "Amputechture" embrace it in the same way we have come to embrace the "skip track" button.

"Vermicide" would fit comfortably on the final At the Drive-In album - it's short and echoey with a fairly simple structure, a perfect playground for Cedric's increasingly stringy voice. "Meccamputechture" is "Tetragrammaton" part two - not in theme but in musical progression - and doesn't even offer up a striking introduction before it starts being seductive and groovy. Again, not what we need to hear from an ambitious band. "Viscera Eyes" is the same way, but perhaps forgivable as it serves as a single.

"Day of the Baphomets" gets its own paragraph as it's the reason to listen to "Amputechture". A long freak-out on sax and electric piano leads into a ATDI-style vocal line that hops along the first percussive groove on this album that entertains without being too marketable. Yes, the chorus is quite infectious but has an apocalyptic quality to it that makes it a delight to hear, and once you've forgiven that, the song heads into another spacy duel between sax and Omar's signature squawking guitar tone. More than anything else here, this is the song that will placate the long-term fans.

Two stars because of this reviewer's misgivings and the feeling that a sizable portion of the Mars Volta's audience has been sidelined or woefully misjudged, but these are still solid songs - just very catchy and grating on the nerves. If this had been an EP composed of the four best tracks in evidence it would have earned five stars without breaking a sweat.

laplace | 2/5 |


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