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The Mars Volta - Noctourniquet CD (album) cover

NOCTOURNIQUET

The Mars Volta

 

Heavy Prog

3.61 | 255 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
3 stars I was enamoured with The Mars Volta album "Frances the Mute", a master work with genius innovative prog sounds, and one by one acquired all their albums. The debut was likewise an excellent album on its own merits. The main drawcard of the band is the high strangeness of the psychedelic polyrhythmic indulgence that dominates, with insane percussive time sigs and guitars turned up to 11. Zavala's vocals are usually a tour de force of outlandish brashness blending a weird cacophony of Spanish, Oriental and jibberish to generate a new language. It is the weird atmospherics that caught my attention and when these attributes are removed all that remains is another dreary alternative rock band. Even the weird malignant art work is gone to be replaced by a poor album cover resembling some pop artist's nightmare. To be honest, nothing has really lived up to the FTM album, especially the last albums have been way under par in terms of quality, innovation and technique and Zavala's vocals suffer in many respects. Not only is this disappointing, it is downright confounding. How a band can sink to the level of "Amputecture" is beyond reason when they are capable of sheer brilliance. At least "Amputecture" featured Omar A Rodriguez-Lopez's inventive guitar crashes and the wild percussive metrical shapes of Jon Theodore, as well as Latin rhythms and the non sensical banter of Cedric Bixler Zavala. Since then, the band really became another FM radio import and nothing lives up to the magic of their earlier releases.

Certainly the band know how to construct a melody but the inventive nature of the band, the absolute audacity of creating mind bending epics with time signature chaos was stripped out of The Mars Volta. The result has been the mere husk of a genius unit; a shadow only remains. A live concert I saw online recently only supports this view as in the concert Zavala's voice is shot to pieces, and it is such a noisy mess it is very embarrassing to watch.

Admittedly the new album is certainly a step up from the last 2 albums but again the band have opted for a more conventional approach and play it safe with short tunes filled with strong melodies and singable choruses. I have come to the conclusion that the band are no longer interested in emulating the progressiveness of their earlier material; playing it safe when they are capable of dangerous territory. On this new album there are some very strong compositions such as the blistering pace of 'Empty Vessels Make The Loudest Sound' and the dramatic 'The Malkin Jewel', as well as superb progalicious 'In Absentia'. The haunting psych dreamscape of 'Trinkets Pale of Moon' is a feast for the ears and especially the intricate delicacies of 'Vedamalady' comes to mind. Each track has a melodic, at times ambient, organic atmosphere and sit well on any FM radio station's airplay and that is not a bad thing, it is just that the band have shed their more progressive skin to convey the new poppier synth sound. The new drummer is fine, as are other members, and at least the album delivers very promising and worthwhile tracks unlike the last two albums.

There is very little in the way of the earlier bombastic chaos of free form manic jazz, meets heavy power riffing and trippy psychedelia. There are no epics or anything that will surprise the average progger. It is a decent album with slices of catchy songs and some good musicianship occasionally, and slightly progressive sounds, but that is where it ends with The Mars Volta's "Noctourniquet". 3.5 stars is a good result, in comparison to more recent TMV albums.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 3/5 |

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