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The Mars Volta - Octahedron CD (album) cover


The Mars Volta


Heavy Prog

3.64 | 422 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Mellow Side of the Over Caffeinated Duo

I've dabbled in the Mars Volta since coming to Prog Archives, and I've always liked the band up to a point. But the recent Octahedron is the first album that I truly enjoy. I'm certain that some long time fans will find this album too soft, or think the band is losing their edge. But experience and maturity have combined with a collective exhale to allow the music to truly breathe. It's not that the band are necessarily better songwriters now, it's just that the songs actually speak for themselves rather than being an all out assault from their authors' personalities. In other words, where previous albums feel like they're all about the artists need to vent some deep seated tension, Octahedron is about the songs, the melodies, the groove. Each one has some story to tell, a different way to communicate. It's as if the band is finally reaching out to us, the audience. Their psychedelic world is established, and finally the strange creatures that are Cedric and Omar are actually ready to host some visitors.

The advance on this record was that it was going to be TMV's "Acoustic album." Well there's very little that's acoustic here, but the layers are scaled back a little, and the tonalities used are a bit less abrasive. Guitars are often not distorted (though certainly effected) and it feels like there might actually be some headroom in the mix. The lyrics are dark and cryptic as ever, with a strange murder mystery theme running through alongside she-devil images. The atmosphere is psychedelic as ever, but I think the boys may have been drawing on something very different than during the recording of the manic Goliath record.

All of the songs on this record are quite good. "With Twilight As My Guide," which truly is acoustic, is a highlight, with a superb vocal performance (both lyrics and singing.) I also like the opener "Since We've Been Wrong" which sets the stage by giving the listener something familiar to hold on to before twisting and turning into the wild ride that is every MV record. "Desperate Graves" and "Copernicus" are strong as well. The flow from song to song is good, and the length of the record is relatively economical these days as well. It's simply a very good listening experience.

In the end, this is simply my favorite Mars Volta album. Maybe that means I'm losing my edge, or that I'm not fully appreciating the band at their full blown power. But it's my listening time and this is one I like.

Negoba | 4/5 |


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