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


The Mars Volta


Heavy Prog

3.52 | 524 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

3 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.

Of course, there are some killer songs on here. "Goliath" stands out as a really thrilling example. "Wax Simulacra" is cool and concise, and "Soothsayer" has some cool effects and added strings. "Ilyena" is damn catchy. There are some tracks, however, that really just come off as incoherent. At some points the second half lacks direction and purpose, culminating in the not-so-great "Conjugal Burns." At many points throughout this disc, you have about a million things going on in the mix, combining with the liberal use of effects, it is really hard to sort through all the sound.

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 | 3/5 |


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