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The Mars Volta - Frances the Mute CD (album) cover


The Mars Volta


Heavy Prog

4.07 | 1007 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Classic Mars Volta, including the associations of not only FLEA and John FRUSCIANTE, but also of then-veteran Art-Rock extraordinaire Roger Joseph MANNING Jr. (JELLYFISH, BECK, LICKERISH QUARTET, IMPERIAL DRAG) on piano. Nothing is made in a vacuum, but I am once again curious of their specifically progressive influences. Love the (current?) modern designation of Heavy Prog for them, as this is a genre very much rooted in the past, in the days when Heavy Metal was simply an Acid Rock offshoot.

Of course replete with perverted and near-classic (see "L'Via L'Viaquez") Latin passages and influence, this album is an unrelenting barrage, through loud and quiet moments alike. And of course, this very unique mix of all of the above is what makes The Mars Volta them. Give 'em hell, lay it back down, ramp it up to 11. That's Mars Volta, for sure. In addition to the obvious Latin flavors, we get electronic and dub passages. All nicely fitted into this package, Frances the Mute.

And also, fans of the modern Prog genre should recognize the second track, "The Widow". It's got the hook, for sure. Great song, really. A modern classic, easily. A sort of LED ZEPPELIN Blues Rock thing, with all its modernist complexities (rolling bass, flailing organ, horns, etc.). A similar effect occurs on "L'Via L'Viaquez" (this track is far more masterful than you may realize upon first glance); it's intense and yet very tactful. What can I say? They were a great band.

I would just like to mention that "Miranda... [long title]" is the clear standout... lowlight on the album. It's low and slow. It's not not Mars Volta, or anything like that haha. It's just not that good. A breather on a heavy, dense album such as this one is probably necessary, but certainly not at 13 minutes' length...

The opening monologue on the first part of "Cassandra Gemini" struck me as a cross between Frank ZAPPA and Tom WAITS. Great effect. The big question with this song was "How necessary was it for them to digitally break this up into 8 parts?" Given its clear weaknesses, in my opinion ("Tarantism", "Plant A Nail...", "Pisacis"), really, quite necessary. Does it make for a weak epic? To me: yep. Again, surprised to see it, but "Plant a Nail..." is a Zeppelin interpolation, no? I wouldn't be able to place it specifically though...

True Rate: 3.5/5.0

DangHeck | 3/5 |


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