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

THE BEDLAM IN GOLIATH

The Mars Volta

 

Heavy Prog

3.47 | 425 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

thesameoldfears
2 stars "never heard a man speak like this man before"

The Mars Volta reach their boiling point here. This band was already plenty energetic, as we heard on their first three albums, all of which I consider to be excellent. Here, however, there seemed to be a conscious attempt to push it even further to the max, and the results vary greatly. We are subjected to seventy-six minutes of unbearably intense music.

The story goes that the album was almost abandoned after a string of bad luck. Omar's basement studio flooded, Cedric broke his foot, and the original engineer refused to continue with the project, leaving no notes about how it should be completed. This backstory offers a great deal of insight into the music itself, as this record sounds as if it's from a band that is completely unhinged and uninterested in the audience's reaction.

Thomas Pridgen's drumming is the subject of great debate. His addition to the band certainly injected life, but there seems to be a certain tastefulness that he is lacking. He clearly considers his job to be to hit as many drums as possible as fast as he can. He succeeds in his mission, but it's worth wondering if this should have been his goal in the first place. There is a certain excellence that comes from practicing restraint, and this lesson seems to be completely lost on not only Pridgen, but the band as a whole.

Of course, there are some killer songs on here. "Goliath" stands out as a really thrilling example. "Wax Simulacra" is catchy and concise, and "Soothsayer" has some cool effects and added strings. There are many tracks, however, that really just come off as incoherent. Most of the second half lacks direction and purpose, culminating in the near-unlistenable "Conjugal Burns." At many points throughout this disc, you have about a million things going on in the mix, and it is really hard to sort through all the noise. The liberal use of effects and strange distortions doesn't help the situation.

All of this being said, I'm kind of glad the band did not abandon the album. By getting it out of their systems, I'm guessing it became abundantly clear that they could not continue in this direction. The release of the much lighter Octahedron just over a year later would seem to confirm that view. I would check out other Mars Volta albums first before tackling this one.

thesameoldfears | 2/5 |

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