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The Mars Volta - The Bedlam in Goliath CD (album) cover


The Mars Volta


Heavy Prog

3.54 | 575 ratings

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5 stars Bang! Crash! Wow! Wallop! I'm on the corkscrew at Alton Towers, oh actually I'm listening to some music!

The intenseness bursts into your ears straightaway - make sure you have the volume down when you start it up, for this will take you into a journey of wildness never heard before.

This album is amazing - it's full of life, energy, wildness, developed experimentation, skill, pace, with some breathing spaces (occasionally). It is intense - leaves you gasping for air. This is true musical marmite - you will either love this, or utterly hate it (I can see that in some of the previous reviews).

For those who love wild music that is utterly different - like Jimi Hendrix speeded up. For those who love thrill rides and extreme sports. For when you are feeling a little crazy. For those who love pure energy - then this is highly recommended.

For those who love tranquillity, melody, beauty, and the grandeur of symphonic prog rock - then this is not recommended. I am telling you - there is NO beauty in this, no melody, but that is not why it's great. WARNING - If you don't like falsetto screaming - then don't go near this!!!!

But if you have mood swings - sometimes you feel peaceful and want to lie back and watch the sky - then "Wish you were Here" or something on those days, but on another day you feel a bit mad - then that's the time for this album (or any MV album for that matter).

I think it's entirely wrong to compare MV albums with previous ones - they should be considered in their own right. It's especially wrong to compare with Deloused in the Comatorium (which so many do). However, I think in their previous albums they were experimenting - now they are picking the best out and developing the best parts of their experimentation - this is entirely what Pink Floyd did - although MV is more like Pink Floyd may have become had Syd Barrett never left. It's so apt that they play "Candy and a Current Bun" as a bonus track at the end. I don't mean that's PF would have sounded like - I mean is more how the experimentation would have developed in a way. PS - If you are a PF fan, I'm not sure you'll like this (unless "Piper" is your favourite album) - it certainly does NOT have the serenity of Roger Waters' Pink Floyd.

Dark Side of the Moon was Pink Floyd's 8th album - when all that experimentation was developed into the sound they wanted to be - and it became GIGANTIC. I feel that Mars Volta (this being the 4th album) are thus 4 albums away from GIGANTICNESS - I can't wait! I feel that MV are headed for similar greatness (please don't stop!!).

Some may think that this music is just chaos, but listen carefully. this actually has a lot of order and control, with the breathing spaces (where you can take a breath) well placed. The falsetto isn't actually always screaming - it's not always falsetto - listen.

As I heard once, there are those who listen to Hendrix, others that actually hear Hendrix. Can you actually hear the Mars Volta?? They have taken progressive music into a new dimension, and are making it cool again (even if they deny the genre - although I think that's a characteristic of true progressive musicians - when they deny it!)

What's missing? I do genuinely miss the use of Spanish, and hopefully they'll bring that back in later albums (BUT remember Spanish wasn't used in Deloused!). You think there is no Latino influenced stuff - but there is! Listen to the latter half of "Agadez" - it's there you know. I mean there really wasn't that much Latino stuff in their other albums - it was an occasional treat, which you do actually get!

But what have they added? A new drummer - and drumming beyond belief - fantastically supported by awesome bass playing from Juan Alderete. "Ever heard a man speak like this man before?" Ever heard a drummer drum like this man before? Never in the days of all my life. Just listen to the album one time while listening to Thomas Pridgen - it's awesome awesome awesome!!

This album contains a lot of high pace FUNK - and it seems that it is what they do best.

I am going to do something I don't normally do - to review songs individually, and put a favourite lyric with it (even if I never have the first idea what they are talking about in the lyrics - but maybe that's a good thing! Notice that they never use swear words - I hate it when lyrics contain swear words).

Aberinkula (9/10). Starts with an incredible unexpected blast that sets the scene for the rest of the album, but later you are treated with the first of the high pace funk with great drumming and bass, overridden with some amazing pacey guitar work that leads into the crazy Metatron.Lyric: 'stray abhoration stalking' (what???)

Metatron (9/10). A lengthier even more crazy track - some great singing over the top of an overriding lead guitar that makes you feel that "maybe I'll break down"! The guitar work is incredible. Constant changing paces and signatures. Lyric: 'suffocate the inkwell' (eh???)

Ilyena (10/10). This is where the Mars Volta launch into awesomeness. So so so funky and with enormous pace - the drumming is out of this world - all too soon it ends (but you are given a little extra at the end with some over-the-top falsetto that the Bee Gees would be happy with!). An amazing track!! (should have been the single) Lyric: 'entity ingredient' (pardon???)

Wax Simulacra (8/10). A mad choice for a single, but then they are the Mars Volta! Some more great drumming, and a lush mad bit of sax to finish. An into to Goliath really. Lyric: 'does my waiting howl' (come again??)

Goliath (10++/10). The band works superbly well together to form one of the greatest pacey tracks that you'll ever hear - blows your mind away - awesome. Constant lead guitars and overriding Cedric madness (takes you into space - like Cassandra Geminni). The track builds and builds to get better and better til you are air-guitaring or air-drumming to unforeseen wildness. Never heard a band like this before! This should go on "Guitar-hero" - it would compete with Dragonforce for difficulty in playing. Lyric: 'never heard a man speak like this man before' (is that from the Bible???)

Tourniquet Man (5/10). What is this?? - not exactly one of MV's best (I think most will agree) - I think though it's best placed here after Goliath just to give the listener a break. Luckily it's short, and you are into the next track before you realise. Lyric 'I slipped on crooked sores' (keh??)

Cavalettas (7/10). Not my favourite, over-experimental and a bit over-staggered (bitty and too long), but there are some very good bits buried within it. Starts well - has a funky first minute. Lyric: 'I am a deaf con of angora goats' (mystery???)

Agadez (8/10). You think oh no - more of Cavalettas, and the first part isn't great, but it develops brilliantly into the Latino-inspired second half. Lyric: 'scratch that itch' (I understand that, but in what context???)

Askepios (9/10). A terrible 3 minute over-experimental build-up (but I'm fine with that - it's the Mars Volta isn't it!) - but it then bursts into 2 minutes of awesome funk rock, with some of the bass playing you'll ever hear, with drumming and pacey lead guitar to die for (again with that fabulous singing over the top). A fabulous lead-in to the amazing Ouroborous.. Lyric: 'the steps of a ladder from a diamondback mouth' (I don't understand???)

Ouroborous (10/10). Amazing! - the drumming, guitars, everything. Sort of a peculiar high speed latino-funk with slow breathing paces, with wild solos. The falsetto is not so high on this one. Lyric: 'all components in the fault' (each word makes sense but doesn't make any sense together????)

Soothsayer (6/10). A bit too weird for me (actually it scares me) - not sure I like this one, but I should allow them to experiment. The track is saved by a fabulous dissonant solo about half-way through - some may hate that, but to make something like that work is incredibly difficult. Sounds like the end of Obscured by Clouds by Pink Floyd at the end. Lyric: 'my love becomes a mange dyeing autumn in its leaves' (sorry???)

Conjugal Burns (10/10). Quite scary beginning, but builds into an amazing pacey wild song, that leaves you gasping for air and wanting to put the CD back on again - geelings of Cassandra Gemini with vocals over wild lead guitars. The monster growling at the end is terrifying, but listen to the amazing sounds behind it. An awesome finish - finishes in the way it started. Listen to the rolling in the drums. Lyric 'bedsore containment' (sounds nasty???)

Candy and a Current bun - I won't rate this as it is a bonus - but a very good rendition of Syd Barrett's masterpiece.

Overall median score - 9/10 - rounds up to 5 out of 5 - I think this be a masterpiece!!

PinkPangolin | 5/5 |


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