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The Mars Volta - Noctourniquet CD (album) cover


The Mars Volta


Heavy Prog

3.54 | 296 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Prog Reviewer
5 stars Genius Evolves - This is the State of the Art of Prog

I have been listening to NOCTOURNIQUET intermittently over several weeks, and every time I come back to it, I've been extremely impressed. From the first raunchy guitar entrance of "The Whip Hand," it's clear that the Mars Volta have made some changes. The band has taken their core sound, folded in the new melodicism of OCTAHEDRON, and then added some even crazier rhythmic ideas and a host of new tones from the keys and guitars. The result is simultaneously recognizable as Mars Volta music and something completely fresh and surprising. To be sure, the band has gotten back their edge.

With adrenaline filled bands like TMV, it's always a crapshoot how they will age. Acting spastic at 40 is ridiculous and Omar and Cedric are closing in. The move from At the Drive- In to Mars Volta simultaneously maintained and expanded the level of creativity of the pair, and NOCTOURNIQUET also represents a (lesser) maturing without sacrifice of energy or wierdness. Omar seems to have made the most changes, with a whole new pallette of gadgets and trippy effects. Cedric sounds great and again is quite melodic. And while the new whizbangs are what pull me in and make my brain admire the band, the melodies are what really make the music stick down in the gut.

The first six songs are simply amazing, and the let up from there is only minor. The later songs get a bit more exploratory, take their time a bit more. A few tracks ("Imago" comes to mind) are more like older material. The Mars Volta have always toyed with odd time signatures, but some tracks on this album are toying with math-rock. New drummer Deantoni Parks has shades of Zach Hill in him. Like Hill, his slightly loose, organic style hides a deep mastery of rhythm (he's a Berklee School of Music Graduate and now teacher of jazz drumming). In addition, keyboardist Ikey Evans has been replaced by backstage noisemaker Lars Stalfors.

The opening monster "The Whip Hand" and the advance single "Malkin Jewel" are perhaps where the new members and the resulting new sound are most prominent. I was fairly uncertain of the drunken Jack White sound of "Jewel" at first, but it's great in the context of the album. "Dyslexicon" has a number of melodic elements that alude to post-punk / new wave like Blondie. "Empty Vessels" is a slow head trip in a syncopated 3. "Lapochka" gives the listener a little break with Cedric back to his straight voice but the band playing a mutant pop-prog. Complete with dark keyboards, odd time signature, and space-rock trappings, this is probably the most likely to appeal to your average fan on PA.

The only drawback to this album is that what amounts to side 2 is less focused. Some where about the middle of "In Abstentia" I'm no longer amazed, but simply content. This along with the album length keeps me from wanting to turn around and listen on continuous repeat. Still, this may be my favorite Mars Volta album. As a guy pushing 40 myself, its not uncommon for me to like band's middle albums best. Especially when, as here, the band is still growing and challenging themselves.

I've debated on the 5 star rating but I think the strength of the first 6 songs is more than enough to carry the day. No other band to my knowledge is combining traditional prog ideas with modern indie guts and their own personal genius quite like Mars Volta. Enjoy.

Negoba | 5/5 |


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