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The Mars Volta - Octahedron CD (album) cover


The Mars Volta


Heavy Prog

3.64 | 422 ratings

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Sgt. Smiles
4 stars Great songs, good album...

Blah blah blah pop...yadda yadda thing is certain, this sounds like a B-sides album. Not a bad thing at all, just a curious mix of some very good songs from a very good group. The Mars Volta do a fantastic job keeping you guessing with every release, and this should be expected by now. Most of the tracks on Octahedron are simpler and catchier than much of their earlier works, but none lack the overall mood I've grown to love. They seem keen on changing the style and/or tempo of their sound from record to record, but they do have a constant (perhaps to their own chagrin), which is mood. Every song this group produces has the same creepy-yet- strangely-beautiful vibe, and whether fast or slow, complex or simple, they continue this pattern with their 5th album. Fewer instruments, less progression, softer material, whatever! The boys from El Paso continue to hold my attention.

The Mars Volta have a rather critical fan base, as I'm sure many bands through time have had, but I believe they will win in the end. Years from now they will surely have cemented their footprints in music history, for they have adopted many styles to meld their own. And they have done that with vigor. Octahedron consists of 8 songs: 3 of a softer acoustic nature (Since We've Been Wrong/With Twighlight As My Guide/Copernicus), 3 catchy pop/rock songs with TMV flair (Teflon/Halo Of Nembutals/Derperate Graves), and 2 curveballs (Cotopaxi/Luciforms). Cotopaxi has the agressive feel of their previous album, The Bedlam In Goliath, but with different lyrical material, while Luciforms is more reminiscent of an Omar solo work. Some soft organ intertwines many of the songs, and the subtle piano throughout is beyond charming. All 8 songs have me hooked.

In comparison to the rest of the Volta's catalogue, Octahedron has one great bonus and one major flaw: BONUS- this is the only Volta album that is a good casual listen. What I mean to say is that it isn't off-putting to people not used to 15 minute epics of complex change-ups and spazzy guitar. Basically, it requires little endurance to enjoy, regardless of how one might absorb the musical experience. FLAW- The 4 albums leading to this have one fundamental I've become accustomed to and feel robbed of: EPIC PROPORTION. Octahedron is a mere 49 minutes, which by Volta standards is puny. To make matters worse, there is about 6 min. of filler. I accept that it is unfair to expect 75+ min. of music on a single album(even though the previous 3 were longer), and filler can be appropriate in longer albums, but this is simply not enough. Omar Rodriguez-Lopez supposedly has enough material in his music vault to fill another 10 albums, so how 'bout throwing your true fans a bone here?!? Make the album worthy of purchase, not theft.

By general standards this is a great album. By Volta standards it is quite underwhelming. I like very much that they try to approach each album differently, unlike many bands who make sad attempts to re-create their most popular album, but Octahedron leaves me there should be more. That being said, all of the songs are very good, Desperate Graves being one of my favorite songs by the group. In its entirety, however, this is the first and only album by The Mars Volta that hasn't blown my mind.

Songs alone get a 4.5. Album gets a 3.5. Avg to a 4

Sgt. Smiles | 4/5 |


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