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The Mars Volta - De-Loused In The Comatorium CD (album) cover

DE-LOUSED IN THE COMATORIUM

The Mars Volta

 

Heavy Prog

4.22 | 950 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Pnoom!
4 stars Rating: B+

The Mars Volta, along with Porcupine Tree and maybe Opeth, is the biggest name in modern progressive rock, and, in light of the release of the good (but not great) The Bedlam in Goliath, it seems a good idea to go back and explore why. Formed by Omar Rodriguez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala after the breakup of their previous band, the emo-punk ensemble At the Drive-In (who come highly recommended), The Mars Volta debuted with the stellar De-loused In the Comatorium, which still stands as their best to date. Whereas later releases have seen the band increasingly drenching their songs in noise, obscuring the actually melodies present, De-loused is actually quite clean in that regard. It's almost always possible to tell what's going on, and the benefit this has on the music is tremendous.

Of course, the lack of noise only matters if the music itself is good, and it most definitely is. "Inertiac ESP", with its passionate cries of "now I'm lost" captures the listener from the start (after the brief, introductory "Son Et Lumiere"), and the energy mostly carries over for the rest of the CD. "Roulette Dares (The Haunt Of)" starts at a similar energy level, then slowly deconstructs to near nothing for a very nice effect. Then, of course, there's the closing, "Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt", which is by far the best song in the Mars Volta canon (at least so far). With soaring vocals, tremendous energy, and even a hint of catchiness, it embodies everything The Mars Volta have ever worked for.

That said, The Mars Volta occasionally falter, inserting energy-sapping sections into the otherwise great songs. This is most notable on "Cicatriz ESP", which probably would've been the best on the CD if it didn't inexplicably drop out into near nothing for several minutes in the middle. There are times on De-loused - "Eriatarka" comes to mind - where the quieter sections work because something's still happening, but it's absolutely inexcusable on "Cicatriz ESP". Then, of course, you have the appalling lyrics, which supposedly tell the story of a band friend to tried (and failed) to commit suicide, enter a coma (where he had some strange visions), then, upon recovery, succeeded in taking his life. While this has the potential to be truly powerful, the little-boy-with-a-thesaurus approach doesn't help. Thankfully, Bixler-Zavala delivers them with enough power that it's almost possible to ignore them (which isn't always the case on later releases).

In spite of the lyrics and the random spacey sections, De-loused in the Comatorium is a stunning release and the closest The Mars Volta have come to a masterpiece. Without extra noise (except for a few select moments, such as on "The Drunkship of Lanterns"), De-loused is an exciting blend of prog and punk, ultimately far more comprehensible on a musical scale than the baffling lyrics would suggest. This is a triumph of modern music and clear proof that there are new avenues music can take. Essential.

Pnoom! | 4/5 |

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