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The Mars Volta - Amputechture CD (album) cover


The Mars Volta


Heavy Prog

3.84 | 535 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars As a recent fan of The Mars Volta, I've gone on a frenzy of picking up all four of their current studio albums.

I picked up Amputechture last, simply because I'd heard from many sources that it simply wasn't as good as the other three releases. While De-loused is an accesible classic, and Frances the Mute was a excellent display of crescendo and decrescendo, as well as Goliath in Bedlam being a nuclear explosion of sound, Amputechture is different. Is different bad? No, of course not, but it was rather off-putting for fans of De-Loused. As it stands, Amputechture is more a natural evolution of the spacey interludes invoked in Frances taken to a different level of sound.

It doesn't sound very much like others Mars Volta albums. In fact, it's radically different. Overall, the pace is very slow; the focus is not on catchy melodies or glimpses of a common theme, but an atmosphere of sound, a pastiche of various influences the group has drawn from. Offhand, I can't say I can remember which song is which, or what each song means, but I don't think it's neccesary; It actually would have been a great idea to make Amputechture one long, atmospheric track; the songs do flow together, and create a creepy, yet enjoyable wall of creativity from which to draw enjoyment.

It's definitely not a very accessible album, for sure, and that definitely accounts for the general dislike for this record by critics. However, this conception results from people expecting the Mars Volta to sound the same; this doesn't contain the bombastic, over-the-top energy of their other albums, and that isn't a bad thing. In fact, it gives them time to develop their music slowly, to draw the listener in. I'd say Cedric's vocals are the clearest out of all the albums, with the least amount of vocal distortion. His performance is understated, allowing the music itself to overwhelm the listener. The solos by Frusciante don't hurt, of course; Omar's guitar parts are just as progressive and crazed as we like them, but the guitars really stand out as a seperate element, rather than another brick in the wall. All the instruments can be picked out; again, the Mars Volta have slowed the pace of the music to give us a better glimpse into the construction of the eight pieces they have created. There's plenty of variety as well, and that really defines Amputechture; the unified sound of their other albums is seemingly dispensed with for a more disorganized approach to prog, one that I enjoy a great deal. This is probably the most progressive of their albums, abandoning conventional chorus and refrain structures for the most part and going ahead with whatever comes into their mind.

It's not a poor album at all, or even self-indulgent; it's just a difficult album to understand. I can't imagine why any prog fan would ignore this release however; it has much depth, for those looking for it (apparently, it is about the dangers of religion, but as a religious person myself, I didn't really catch on to it). The constant variety truly makes this an essential listen, but anyone expecting the catchy music of other Mars Volta releases should steer clear; there is still some of that here, but in very sparse segments.

It deserves a rating of 4 stars; it drags in spots, but overall it is a very solid release for a prog fan to jump into. Just don't expect another De-Loused or Bedlam.

Viewtifulzfo | 4/5 |


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