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


The Mars Volta


Heavy Prog

3.54 | 575 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars The Mars Volta's latest album was plagued by various incidents and mishaps during its recording, which were integrted into the concept of the album. The band owned a ouija board and would play with it after shows, and it told them stories from three entities in one, who called itself Goliath. When they began recording the album, however, strange happenings began to plague the band. Their drummer left the band, and Rodriguez-Lopez's home studio flooded and had frequent unexplained power outages, Bixler-Zavala required foot surgery, and the album's recording engineer sufferend a mental breakdown and left suddenly, leaving no notes as to what work he had done or how. The band broke the board, which they called The Soothsayer, in half, buried it in an undisclosed location, and refused to speak of it until the album was finished, then proceeded to forge on with the writing and recording.

Anyway, let's talk about the actual music now. This is simultaneously The Mars Volta's noisiest and least noisiest album. I know that doesn't make sense, so I'm going to elaborate. This is some of the loudest, heaviest, and most dissonant music the band has ever recorded easily. However, there are no atmospheric synth-noise passages like there was on Deloused In The Comatorium and more prominently on Frances the Mute. Here the noise is incorporated into the music instead of attempting to act as music on its own. The synth noise is buried in the mix behind the music, kept to a low roar that adds texture. Instrumentally, it's the drums and the guitar that take the lead. The drumming is aggressive and erratic, the beats in odd time signatures and frequently interrupted by fills. The guitar solos take the key signatures only as a loose suggestion, and are loud and distorted nearly throughout the full album. At points, wind instruments come up and wail over the rest of the music, showing little to no regard for melody. The vocals are much different from Deloused In The Comatorium. Instead of channeling Robert Plant, he has adopted a unique style all his own. At their lowest they are nasal and at their highest they are efffeminate falsettos. This style works a lot better than it sounds, however, as it fits the music well and he never hits terrible false notes. There are even noisy bits in the vocals, parts are processed throgh some sort of synthsizer/distortion and sound like some sort of robot (not the robot-voice abused by pop artists of the 90s, a much more sinister-sounding robot.)

The concept is not integral to enjoy the album, in fact, you can get by entirely without it. As far as I can tell the lyrics do not deal directly with it openly, although it's hard to tell. The lyrics are typical Mars Volta fare, rambling and nonsensical, and feautring a much larger vocabulary than your typical rock music. The lyrics are rather enjoyable if you're not put off by that style.

Despite all the trouble that The Mars Volta endured during the recording process, they churned out what I consider to be their finest album. Fans of Deloused In The Comatorium will enjoy the hard-rocking style of this one. Some might be disappointed that the Spanish vocals of Frances The Mute and Amputechture are absent this time around, and while those were nice, the music gets by without them. By now, it should go without saying that this one comes with a high reccomendation. (An amusing side note: listen for the misheard lyric in the first half of Conjugal Burns.)

MrEdifus | 5/5 |


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