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The Mars Volta - De-Loused In The Comatorium CD (album) cover


The Mars Volta


Heavy Prog

4.19 | 1136 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

James Lee
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The music on this album almost singlehandedly revived my savor for progressive rock after spending the majority of the last two decades with frustration and disappointment...and makes my list of the best albums of the last ten years, in any genre. The lyrics are unabashedly verbose,but the concepts are basic and powerful; the instrumentation is (comparatively) sparse and often stark, but always full of energy and exploration. There is a haunting, ragged passion throughout that dares to be both violent and vulnerable.

Theodore's percussion skills drive each song, from wild feats of rock drumming to tempestuous latin rhythms. Cedric has a distinctive upper-register voice, youthful but not the least bit naive, and an uncanny knack for delivering memorable lyric hooks within the experimental framework. Omar covers a wide range of tones, favoring a slightly overdriven but hardly smooth sound that brings to mind some of Fripp's classic complex single-note patterns. Every so often he'll pour on the fuzz for a sustained lead tone (a Howe-meets-Santana combo which is especially striking during the latin section of 'Cicatrix'). One of my few criticisms concerns the not infrequent atmospheric passages, mostly effects and guitar noise- dynamically, they suit the structure well but are themselves not always terribly interesting. I'm guessing that the band is more than capable of some great atmospherics but struggled a bit in the studio to match the excitement of these same parts as performed live. One might counter that this strikes a refreshing contrast with many albums where every last note is carefully premeditated.

Rawness has never been a hallmark of the progressive genre (apart from some live mishaps and 'just messing around' filler tracks), but The Mars Volta proved that the punk influence and the progressive rock approach (for lack of a better word) could be idea that I'm sure would have sounded absurd during most of the 80s and 90s. This album is something special, a herald perhaps of a burgeoning reconciliation between the often backwards-looking and insular progressive rock genre and the brash and energetic sounds of more alternative, underground forces. I know it isn't for everyone in the Prog community, but condemning it to less than four stars seems miserly.

James Lee | 4/5 |


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