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The Mars Volta - Octahedron CD (album) cover


The Mars Volta


Heavy Prog

3.64 | 422 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

3 stars "How much do you make in that death factory"?

After the wild intensity of "The Bedlam in Goliath", the Mars Volta have turned down all the dials, chilled out and produced a very nice album. They said it was their "acoustic album" - umm, well, it's a good site more acoustic than previous, but for most bands if they said this was "acoustic" I think they might be sued - but this is the Mars Volta - and they - unlike the most commercially successful bands - CAN DO WHAT THEY LIKE. If we like it or hate it then that's up to us, and they don't care...!

Personally, I DO like it - just not quite as much as their others. I love the wild crazy journeys the other albums take you on, and this isn't crazy enough for me. Never mind, it's given them at least some more building blocks/ alternative routes that can be added together with everything that's gone before to result ultimately in their greatest album (which I predict by the way to be their 8th - they are still really exploring at the moment - not running out of steam as some mistakenly think). And at least it isn't cursed this time!!!

When I heard it was acoustic, I thought there would be some immense extreme-twiddly highly skilled acoustic guitar playing that I totally love - Hmmm, I think Omar failed to deliver for me on that count - but as I said it certainly isn't for me to tell them what to do - or to expect them to do - as I said they do what they like and don't care what the listener thinks.

I disagree with many that this is an approachable album for new (and less wild-hearted listeners) - I don't think it's approachable (I know for sure my wife wouldn't like this). Play them whast the MV truly are with one of the previous albums.

Nevertheless, there is some really great stuff here that's worth listening to time and again, because it does grow on you.

The whole album seems to be dominated through-out by a single organ chord reprising each song - which is pretty cool actually and soothes the listener into a relaxed mood and thus to enjoy the music as he/she is supposed to - a very neat trick, although one I would not expect of the Mars Volta - one for Pink Floyd (Shine on you Crazy Diamond for example) or a band like "Nosound". I like this aspect - they put you in the right mood for the correct form of listening - in this (and in previous album) here lies their great skill - and in this they DO actually care about the listener.

...and the beauty is that they then take you by complete surprise in an utterly unexpected burst of wildness - in this it is the immense pulsating rhythm of "Cotopaxi" - in doing this they deliver the best moment of the album - brilliant! (they did the same with the introduction of "Cygnus.. Vismund Cygnus" in Frances the Mute - a fantastic storming moment.

If this is what they did throughout the album then this (like before) would be a masterpiece no doubt. For me, though there are a few errors - "Halo of Nembutals" and "Desperate Graves" represent my least favourite style of their music - these 2 songs have some good bits (the rhythms mostly) but they smell of past failures and have an "At the Drive-in" feel.

On the good side (I have already said Cotopaxi is awesome), the actual "acoustic" songs - "SInce We've Been Wrong", "With Twilight as my Guide" and "Copernicus" are truly excellent - and I DO really like these. The former is the closest the band have got to making a gentler song as good as "The Widow" and is certainly in the same vein. "With Twilight.." is in the same haunting mood as "Miranda that Ghost isn't holy anymore" - I was hoping that they would produce another song as good as that - and here they have certainly delivered - even to the point of unexpectedly bursting into "Cotopaxi" at the end - rather like they did when they bust into "Cassandra Gemini" before.

"Copernicus" is their gentlest song to date, and is actually well superb - great one here, MV.

"Teflon" has a great beating rhythm - the only song to seem to have been left out of "Bedlam in Goliath".

And the album finishes with a bang, in the immensely good "Luciforms" - which at last (for this album) includes one of Omar's incredible "dicing with discordance" solos. A truly haunting piece, building in power - possibly the best of the album.

So you see I like 6 of the Octahedron - so you may wander why only 3 stars? (3 and a half really) Well, as I said it's not quite wild enough for me - and I think they are rushing it a little in putting music together rather like Enid Blyton. I remember reading an interview with the former drummer Jon Theodore in which he said they practised intensely for a whole year to get "Deloused in the Comatorium" right. Well, what I'm hoping is that they will take all these new ideas and directions, put it all together, then put the same (or more) amount of effort that they did with "Deloused" - in such a way if they do they will come out with the greatest album of all time - as I said it will be their 8th!!! (Dark Side of the Moon was Pink Floyd's 8th - remember they did stuff like "Ummagumma" and "Atom Heart Mother" on the way - I mean - what were they about???).

Here's hoping....

Still, an album that I would certainly recommend. 3.5 stars (rounded down to 3)


PinkPangolin | 3/5 |


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