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The Mars Volta - Frances The Mute CD (album) cover

FRANCES THE MUTE

The Mars Volta

 

Heavy Prog

4.05 | 714 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This music could level a building

The Mars Volta have been one of this decades biggest names in prog (and ironically, also in the punk scene) thanks to their combination of sheer sonic-noise-music and progressive leanings mixed very heavily with the kind of bombastic moments that we prog fans both love and hate oh so much. Often when it comes to new bands the biggest thing that most proggers look at is how unique the band is. Well, while there's claims that the band has been influenced by all the classics from King Crimson right down to Genesis there is really nothing from this that shows.

I suppose this is what happens when a hardcore-punk band such as At The Drive In decides to regroup into a prog outfit and change their name. But, while never claiming to be a fan of either incarnation of this band, I can say that this music is really something else. This is the kind of music that everyone needs to hear just because of how new it is... because of how fresh it is. You can listen to their music a hundred times and you will never be able to claim that you've heard it all before.

So what they sound like? Well, for those unfamiliar with the band - you've been warned. Just read the header of this review again. Producing harsh, dissonant noise that is so incoherent that it gains a kind of sick and twisted melody, this music also has something else going for it - it's heavy. Anyone who likes a little bit of aggression behind their music will get a kick and a half out of this. Also a strength is the use of multiple languages. For those of us who are not Spanish the music has a very unique feel to it when the band decides to whip out the dialog.

In terms of songs, each is quite strong and there's really nothing to complain about. Most of the tracks are long suites which have enough drive and power to keep them very interesting to the ears of the listener. Cygnus... Vismund Cygnus starts out the bombastic powerhouse with a bang, getting the tone of the album with it's non-stop attack of sound that will leave you either clutching your ears to make them stop bleeding or making you wake up in another room after having realized that you got carried away with the music. Heck, maybe even both.

There's a couple of moments on the album here the music turns into strange ambient noise reminiscent of something like Hawkwind on speed. The Widow is the first song that really makes large use of this about halfway through, and though it's kind of strange the first couple times you hear it (especially at the points where it sounds like a skipping record), but it catches on eventually.

Miranda That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore is easily the most chilled out song on the album, but the others are really where it's at. L'Via L'Viaquez continues on with the bombastic approach, while the final suite on the album really takes the cake. The 32+ minute suite Cassandra Geminni is the track that most prog heads will likely be looking forward to on the album. Combining all the bombastic, spacey, powerful and destructive elements of the album the band has produced a magnum opus of (I hate using this word) epic proportions. The album could have been this one song and it still would have worth the money.

This band is certainly one to watch (if you didn't already know that for some reason), and though I certainly can't recommend it to everyone in the world I would definitely recommend it to most. Heavy Prog is an appropriate label for the band... and like it or not they're on the rampage with their music. 4 stars for a solid offering! The only people who should avoid this album are those who like their music calm and those who are prone to seizure.

Ah, as an aside - The track listing on iTunes is incorrect for those who put their CDs on their computer. Cassandra Geminni goes from track 5 to the end, not from track 8 to the end.

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |

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