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


The Mars Volta


Heavy Prog

3.52 | 528 ratings

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Prog Metal Team
4 stars Interesting to see how 1star reviews meant to be provoking might actually have drawn people to this album rather then frightening them away. Good. This is truly challenging Prog with a capital P that is bound to drive people away just like Yes did a good 35 years earlier. This is a band that will - and already has - inspired future generations of Prog artists and that will launch a new branch of progressive rock that will hopefully stay clear from the over-melodious indulgencies and intrinsic tendencies towards cheesiness that Dream Theatre initiated in their days. By which I don't want to say they haven't created some great music.

Anyway, it doesn't mean this album can get away un-criticized. A major problem for me is the ear-damaging loud mastering, or over-compression of the sound to be precise. Other reviewers have pointed it out already, this sort of mastering is said to be more successful for an iPod or Radio play onslaught, but actually, on an iPod this even sounds worse. In less then 20 minutes I get completely weary from the lack of dynamism and the harsh sound; especially the drums are downright awful, completely botched. The guitar is deprived of body and the bass lacks oomph. I usually tend to reserve this kind of energetic stuff as car music (yes I'm a road-pirate), but this album doesn't stand a chance there. I'll go bumping into old ladies before me in no time.

It's a shame really, as the songs are very good again and an improvement over the previous album, though that one still might grow on me. This stuff oozes dynamic rhythms, groove, great bass lines and those exquisite cacophonous and dissonant sounds that spice up my roasted steak.

A second critical point is the album's length. Music with this amount of intricacies and intensity is ideally consumed in 40 minute portions. (Yes I'm a sucker for the good old 45 minute album length). 75 minutes of it, even as inspired as they come here are simply too much, even ignoring the awful sound. TMV is a pedantic and overindulgent band indeed, but so are all great Prog bands. Favourite bands of mine like Porcupine Tree and Anekdoten don't have those indulgent leanings but I rather regard those as Rock with progressive elements, rather then true Prog Rock.

Let's try to rate this one mathematically using my 4 rules of thumb for assessing music:

Personality: 5 stars. No arguing about it. These guys ooze it.

Passion: 3 stars. This is intense music, but doesn't give the thrills I got from the first two albums. Sometimes it feels like posturing.

Song Quality: 4 stars. Only one issue here, lack of self-control

Musicality: 1 star. Sure they play excellently, but this concerns the final product, the production being part of that. As explained it is the worst possible mishmash and I'll rarely listen to it as a result.

13 divided by 4, that's ... let me think ... I need help here!

Bonnek | 4/5 |


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