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The Mars Volta - Amputechture CD (album) cover

AMPUTECHTURE

The Mars Volta

Heavy Prog


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ayfalcon@msn.
5 stars Well when i first herd it i felt a bit weird because their sound reminded me of yes, genesis, and rush (which i absolutely love!). Even though there some hints of the bands i mentio, hey still manage to keep their sound fresh compare to what's out today. Anyways this album is absolutely a master piece and probably the best of all time for progressive rock. And like the first reviewer said it leaves you with a crave for more.

Favorite tracks: All of them!

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#83313)
Posted Monday, July 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars When I first heard this, I'll admit I wasn't sure of how I liked it. After second listen it started sinking in and, that it hit me that this is an amazing album. I won't give too much away, but TMV has radically reduced its noise. And it's much more 'progressive' than their other releases. Juan, Adrian, and Ikey all have great parts [glad they turned Ikey up]. Adrian's horn sections are done very tastefully. Look out for them. The best performances [imo] on this album are, well, excluding Cedric and Omar, Juan and Adrian. After all, Omar writes all the music.

Omar's playing style has improved greatly.. really tightened up his style. Not that it was bad before.

Cedric's vocals are really great, dunno what else to say, other than he pwned.

My favrite tracks have to be all of them... haha. Atonement is a great song... Real ballady. Ciervo is very haunting. It's a great way to close to the album... nice and slow.

My favorite ones other than those have to be Meccamputechture, Viscera Eyes, and Vermicide. The riff in Viscera Eyes is awesome. It really fools you, 30 seconds in and BAM it throws the song at you headlong. The Spanish lyrics are great too, just the first verse. The best part [imo] is the chorus and the horns in that part. Wow. Also the solo near the end. And Viscera Eyes is on their myspace.

Oh, I forgot Asilos Magdelena. This song is an uber favorite of mine, all I'll say is it's hauntingly beautiful.

All in all, this an amazing album that should be heard by everyone, espcially the people who said lay off on the noise. As this album has literally none. Maybe a minute or two is all. So I urge everyone to buy a copy when it's released. This may be my favorite release yet.

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Send comments to Meddler (BETA) | Report this review (#83560)
Posted Wednesday, July 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album and de-loused in the comatorium are two fo the best modern releases in music to date. This album is simply amazing, a masterpiece. Tetragrammaton, Meccamputechture, and Viscera Eyes are sooooo good that its incredible. THe album may be a little much at first, but listen to it a coule times and it will grow on you. The musicianship is simply amazing, with strong performances coming from Omar and from Jon Theodore, and the usual vocal talent of Cedric. Amazing album, 5/5

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Send comments to xhamasaki (BETA) | Report this review (#83642)
Posted Thursday, July 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is not only by far the best put out by The Mars Volta, but is also the best progressive album altogether released in a very long time. Endless complaints about too much noise and filler can now be put to rest, as this album is 76 minutes of pure, quality MUSIC. Let me assure you, this album will blow you away. Fans of Genesis and King Crimson especially will love the influence that can be heard throughout the album. Omar A Rodriguez-Lopez has never sounded better (as if he wasn't good enough in de-loused or Frances), and Cedric sings higher than what would normally be humanly possible. Jon Theodore turns in another strong performance, and there are several bass lines that allow Juan to shine (especially in Viscera Eyes). Here's a track by track breakdown:

Vicarious Atonement (9/10) - A wonderful opener with nice vocals and guitar riffs by Omar. Beautifully haunting would be the best way I could describe it.

Tetragrammaton (10/10) - This song completely blows me away every time I listen to it! The shift from the slow, haunting opener to the chaotic intro of Tetra is incredible. Theodore shines all throughout the album, but in this track especially, as does the rest of the crew. It's truly an epic that can hold it's ground next to Supper's Ready, Close to the Edge, Gates of Delirium, you name it. Probably the best song on the album IMO.

Vermicide (8/10) - This song being the album's single (and too radio friendly), might play a part in why I don't like it as much as some of the other tracks, but it is still a great song nonetheless. Fans of "The Widow" and "Televators" will enjoy this one. Fits in the album very well.

Meccamputecture (10/10) - Great saxophone part in this one, not to mention an oustanding entrance that brings the tempo back up after the slower Vermicide. Cedric really shines in this one.

Asilos Magdalena (7/10) - Beautifully written track written completely in Spanish, fits very well separating the crazyness of Meccamputechture and Viscera Eyes. Some may like this one more than I do, but I'm only giving it an 7 because I much prefer the faster, chaotic offerings that TMV offers in some of the other tracks. It's still a great song.

Viscera Eyes (9/10) - Another great song, starting off with the first couple verses in Spanish. The bass line at 5:55 is INCREDIBLE. This part of the song is so chill, i love it!

Day of the Baphomets (10/10) - Amazing song which features quite possibly my favorite percussion solo of all time, and by far my absolute favorite part of the album when Theodore goes crazy on the bongos and cowbell (he must have had a fever) at the 9:48 mark. Sheer brilliance!

El Ciervo Vulnerado (8/10) - An interesting way to close out the album, as it sounds very similar to the opener (awfully reminiscent of the way Frances began and ended). It would have gotten an 9 if it were put anywhere else in the album, but I much prefer the endings of Frances and De-Loused (i absolutely LOVE take the veil) as opposed to this. Once again, its still a great song and interesting way to close out a true masterpiece.

in conclusion: my soul < frances the mute < de-loused in the comatorium < amputechture

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Send comments to cicatriz819 (BETA) | Report this review (#83646)
Posted Thursday, July 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is without a doubt the most sophisticated, profound Mars Volta album to date. Everything is present, and unabashedly progressive...

The band makes more extensive use of horns and synthesizers, and with much more subtlety than on the previous record.

At times Bixler-Zavala's vocals are a bit poppy, even oppressive, but still preferable to those of many other prominent 'art rock' acts of the seventies and the current prog revival era.

The only weak track on the album is 'Viscera Eye', and only because of a rather unimaginative, obvious guitar hook at the beginning which pales in comparison to the rest of the album's work.

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Send comments to InfinityParadox (BETA) | Report this review (#83689)
Posted Friday, July 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
mitechellm@wi
5 stars This is The Mars Volta's materpiece.. well, their biggest masterpiece. Amputechture is a non-stop psychotic ride of TMV's craziest work yet. At first, you may not like it much, you may think that it isn't TMV, well, not asking you to define TMV for me, I do want you to listen to it more than a 10 times. Just go into it and don't expect anything. The album has absolutely everything they've ever done inlcuding the following:

John Frusciante on EVERY SONG. Fantastic drums, Jon Theodore outdid himself. Saxophone (there is also a sax/guitar solo on Day of the Baphomets). Voice alteration, much more than on FTM and about the same amount used on De-Loused. NO ambiance (where it is alone and by itself, it is, instead inside of the music, not apart from it, like in France). Jazz, plenty of it, and it goes very natural with the music You can hear IKEY, yes, he's the keyboardist, if you didn't know. Haha. Cedric sings at probably his highest yet. Very energetic... the kind of energy ATDI used, just that TMV doesn't scream, or use incredibly manipulated guitar

Any TMV fan will like this if they give it a chance and if you haven't been a fan of FTM, this will surely reassure your thoughts on the band.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#84089)
Posted Tuesday, July 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
maxxban2@aim.
5 stars Absolutly incredible. I never thought anything they would make would ever compete with de-loused but this is definatly right up there. Like my previous reviewers i agree that Frusciante gets a bit too much attention on the album but what the hell he deserves it (omar is still better by far).

Now being a drummer myself, i truly appreciate the fantastic drum work on this album, especially on the beggining on tetragrammaton. Jon theodore has most definatly secured himself among the ranks of not only the most talented but also the most innovative and original drummers with this album (even though after de-loused he was already there).

Zavala shows what a great recording voice he has on this album more than any other. he hits some notes that would put Celine Dion to shame...ill just leave it at that.

Now what can you saw about Juan Aldente, the bass solo on baphomets is reminicent of "maxwell murder", possibly even better, and the entire track is absolutly incredible.

Bottom line, these guys are some of the best musicians in the world and the sheer complexity of their music is mind baffling. Top 10 albums ever made, and ill never back down from that.

Amputechture=De-louloused > than most music ever made

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#84108)
Posted Tuesday, July 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars One month ago I was disgusted at the prospect of TMV, being a long time Chili Peppers ummm....shall we say...."not fan"? Well, I heard so much good stuff about Frances from my proggy friends I was like screw it, and went straight to the mall to pick up and album. I bought Frances, bordering between it and De-Lounged. I had such a feeling of anticipation, I just couldn't help myself and went back later in my trip to pick up their last copy of De-Lounged. I was not disappointed. the energetic, exciting, complex structure of the music, and perfect vocals, were something fresh and amazing to me. I immediately ordered the EP and Scab Dates. When Amputechture news came around, I jumped on it. Some reviewers said it took a few listens, but for me, I could tell this was a new milestone in not just Prog but music after track 3 listen 1. These guys really have an outstanding future, and are the best thing to look forward to in the music scene today. Plllleeeeaaaassse keep it up guys. And yes, it's true, the noise is gone. (almost)....heh heh heh....

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Send comments to Rush Theater 21 (BETA) | Report this review (#84110)
Posted Tuesday, July 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars So far I have thoroughly enjoyed every release TMV have put out. Their albums tend to be vast expanses of spacey to just plain wierd soundscapes that I really enjoy. And while their albums have their flaws, I can overlook them for the most part if I keep in mind the moments of pure genius. Amputechture, however is rather sub-par compared to the previous studio LP's Omar and the boys have put out. There are still great ideas, but they require more searching to get to and in the end one wonders whether or not it was worth the effort.

This album also suffers from a lack of flow, not necessarily between songs but in them. Like I mentioned there are great moments, but this album seems to be a collection of great ideas that at times seem like they have nothing to do with each other.

1. Vicarious Atonement: (7.5/10) A good solid opener that I wish was a reflection of the mood of the rest of the album. Features some nice guitar work and ends with a nice jazzy feel.

2. Tetragrammaton: (5/10) This is where the problems start. One of the problems I failed to mention earlier was the focus on vocal melodies rather than good song- writing. This song starts of on what is an attempt at organized chaos but just ends up sounding like a mess. It calms down and for about 5 mins. sounds like it's going places. Unfortunately the transitions in this song bring it down and this eventually sinks the song. And while Cassandra Gemini from Frances the Mute opened with amazing intensity, drifted for a while, and eventually camme back to melt my face off in the end, this song starts out strong, drifts for a while, and then makes a rather unsuccessful attempt to come back.

3. Vermicide: (6/10) This song would be better without the cheesy chorus, but is saved by a nice guitar solo and generally erie mood.

4. Meccapmutechture: (7/10) A strong song that would have been stronger had it not been so repetitive. It features a great hook though.

5. Asilos Magdalena: (7.5/10) An acoustic track that's completely different from the rest of the album. A nice change of pace too that features some great acoustic wor from Omar.

6. Viscera Eyes: (8/10) This song is Volta sticking to what works best. Some straight ahead rocking leads up to a truly intense ending that captures the band at their best. While it may come off at first as a L'Via wannabe it is actually a very unique song in its own way.

7. Day of the Baphomets: (9/10) It starts of with a nasty bass solo courtosy of Jaun and doesn't let up from there. All I can say about this track is that it does what the rest of the album can't, and that is capture the sound of the album in a coheisive manner while still advancing the overall sound of the band.

8. El Ciervo Vulnerado: (8/10) This track has seemed to get a bad rap so far, but it actually deserves a lot of praise. It is truly haunting and is a chilling end to the album, and if viewed as a slow let down from the previous adventure of Baphomets it can be quite enjoyable.

People new to The Mars Volta should definitely start out with De-Loused in the Comatorium and go from there.

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Send comments to xenuwantsyou (BETA) | Report this review (#84777)
Posted Tuesday, July 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Amputechture is one of the best albums i've heard recently, although I expected a little more originality, something new or different; it is as great or even better than the previous albums. Cedric's vocals continue to improve in english and specially in spanish. The lyrics are a little more complex and profound. The guitar work is excellent, both Frusciante's and Omar's. I think they did a good combination. Jon Theodore is excellent as usual, and all other muscisians seem to create an excellent atmosphere for the listener. The ballads trap you while the rest of the songs are as always chaotic and strident that makes you find strong emotions though out the album. I think it is a masterpiece of TMVfor its musci and emotions, although for the next album I would like something more innovative, otherwise no matter how good it is I will find it either boring or repitive.

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Send comments to ndiego (BETA) | Report this review (#84787)
Posted Tuesday, July 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Many found it hideous and to other a step ahead, for my, it is a sample that this band gives that to speak as for music... it is a round, rounder album that its previous work with more direct songs, more full with Latin, much more psychedelic and spacer, less instrumental flavor but with much more complexity and the protagonistic inclusion of instruments like saxo, it mentioned and full Latin percussions... Vicarious Atonement is the first track, they are a little more than seven minutes that stroll among the psicodelia, the blues and something of Latin, less violent flavor that its previous beginning songs but I believe that he/she gives idea of what comes in the album, an influence rooted in the psicodelia and the blues. Tetragrammaton strolls among the sound floydiano in several passages, something of krautrock and ambient, some rhythms in extremely progressive destiempo and the classic influences of Rush and Led Zeppelin... almost 17 brutal minutes. Vermicide is the shortest and maybe the one sails. The zeppelin influences appears immediately, he/she reminds me to The Widow of its previous disk. Meccamputechture is almost 12 minutes that you/they remember to its first ep with those harmonies hard rock with psychedelic passages to exception of a saxo intermission with synthesizers bottom in experimental plan, very krautrock. Asylums Magdalena is completely in Spanish. A mixture Latin full between bolero and trova with Mars Volta's characteristic stamp. Acoustics and majestic. Viscera Eyes is of almost 10 minutes. Again they make Gallic of Spanish but this time anything acoustic, again the influence of Rush enters (incredibly there is very much forward of Rush of the half) with synthesizers, alone of guitar very Page and a brutal end. Day of the Baphomets is my favorite one, of 2 minutes. The beginning reminds me to Tool, an alone one of under extremely rude that explodes in a psychedelic " section ", instrumental and progressive, capable full and it is this the sample more proggie of the disk, is sections that you/they remind me vastly to King Crimson and certain instrumental sections very Rush, the difference resides in the Latin incursion with percussions and saxo what you/they give him a very unique touch. BRUTAL. The Deer Harmed mark the end of the disk. It is a luck of blues space jazzoso, full Pink Floyd and that it can be of the pleasure of those lovers of those decadent and slow psychedelic discharges and the end is ahead half indú, a step and interesting of what can bring this band later on. -------------------- My Verdict: A gentleman disk... pa'mi is its best work, without hair in the language say it. It is ahead a very complete album and a step in this grandiose band. If already people like Robert Fripp, Steven Wilson, Mike Portnoy, Rick Wakeman, Neal Peart, Larry Harlow among others speaks marvels of them, I suppose that this disk will end up causing them an infarto of the grandiose thing that it is

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Send comments to kevoltron (BETA) | Report this review (#84973)
Posted Thursday, July 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars After something like 1 and a half year, Cedric, Omar & Co. are already back with their third full length album. I must confess I wasn't expecting a new TMV album this early. I have to conclude that these guys are extremely creative, much more then anyone in this world could ever imagine. While all the other bands I like take at least 3+ years to release a new record, this guys are release a so rich and complex super detailed album like this in one ear after Frances the Mute release. Thats really crazy, and must be registered here.

Now into the album. Well, Amputechture is a masterpiece. That's what art is about, it defines "art" actually. Omar is now full time as a producer, and it seems like he's learning fast. He did a flawless job here comparing to Frances the Mute. Now you can hear lots of saxophone, trumpet, keyboards, distorted guitars, and tons of electronic stuff everywhere in this album. The lyrics again, picks some religion (actually a lot more), people being possessed, immigrant marches. Cedric again says this is not about a concept album. Not in the literal way. He says each song talk about a different stuff, but they connect each other in some strange bizarre way. I can describe a lot of the Christian bible passages narrated by them in the album. Priests killing diseased people thinking they were possessed. This kind of stuff. But like he said himself, its all in a loose way. The only big theme you can pick in each track is the Christianism.

I wish I had something to talk about the album that bothers me , so I would sound more like a regular listener and not like just a TMV fanboy. I'm really trying hard to list some flaws here: First, I feel that they tried to bring the De-loused vibe back. I prefer Frances over De-loused, I'm with the fans that think the ambiance wasn't unnecessary, it was part of the evolution of the band, as a prog lover I couldn't get more exited when hearing cars passing by and people cursing each other in spanish (Cygnus), or creppy ghosts and birds sounds in Miranda, and now its all gone. A welcome change for most of people I believe, but not for me. Not that they just forgot about the 'noises', they are there, but in a very small proportion, and even worst: they are poorly made. When listening to Frances I could swear I was in some creepy place in Mexico. A cemetery, a lake in the woods, or whatever. Now it just feel like a stoned band in the studio. Oh well, I bet my two cents that this is Frusciante's fault. Being a rockstar, trying to 'teach the kids' that they must sound more MTV friendly and sell millions this way. The other small issue I can complain is the excess of Cedric's doubled vocals. They are like.. everywhere. Cedric's vocal had its best moment in Frances, now they could be more polished if they had put more time to work on it.

But do not fear, despite of some really small flaws, they won't let you down in any way. The album opens with the smooth Vicarious Atonement, which reminds me a lot of Shine On You Crazy Diamond intro. I hope they make it their new concert intro, it sounds really great and put you perfectly in the album mood. Tetragramation starts kicking out some crazy Teodore's usual drums, and insane guitar riffs, sounds like japanese anime a bit, but its still beautiful. This song is the big epic this time, almost 20 minutes long. I don't like Cedric backing vocals when he sings "I've been to the surface and nothing is there", it becomes a little repetitive after some minutes. Vermicide sounds like the single, even when they didn't confirmed this yet. For the first time I heard it I was like 'Eww', its like listening to The Widow, but today I have to recognize it has some cool moments: Cedric vocals gets very creepy when he sings "Embalming all the fluids I must / I prefer to burn them...", the electronic distortion works nice there, I love it. Meccamputechture opens wonderfully with a fast piece of cool sayings by Cedric, thats what TMV is about: a big explosive kick in for the upcoming 10 minutes, makes you wanna dance non-stop. Asilos Magdalena is one of the bests songs, almost 100% acoustic, all written in spanish, it only meets some creepy electric guitar in the last minutes. Viscera Eyes is easily the best song of this album. And easily one of Top 5 TMV songs ever. The chorus are so freaking crazy, Theodore's drums hits his maximum at this point, and Cedric sings are so sexy and powerful. I would say it is a kind of B-Side for Cicatriz ESP, it has an amazing drums/guitar/bass rhythm. I've listened to this album for more then 200 times now and I must say even today I still cant listen to this song and stay still at the same time. I mean, it's not made for dancing but it definitely will make you shake your hands or something. But if you want to dance, Day of the Baphomets probably will make you. After the stimulating intro, the song kicks in a crazy powerful moment like the Tarantism from Cassandra Gemini, its so danceable. Cedric yells the higher he can, there's a lot of space PF's sounds, not to mention the bass lesson, the best bass moment in the album. If they play it live I suggest you to take care and not get too excited otherwise you might break some bones while interacting with the crowd. And to prove that nothing is perfect, the album closes with the unnecessary El Ciervo Vulnerado, with is just nonsense goodbye noise to me. Some always bizarre reversed phrases, a sleepy bassist.. giving that feel of a stoned band playing in a studio I said earlier. I'd share this 8 minutes of blocked noise with the others songs, some more time to think between the tracks would be nice. But thats just me. An absolute progressive masterpiece anyway.

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Send comments to andz (BETA) | Report this review (#84976)
Posted Thursday, July 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is possibly the most creative and intuitive meld of music ever to be composed. There isn't much else to say, but that this album is amazing. For the average mainstream listener, it will be a lot to digest, yes - But even so, after proper digestion (5-10 listens), this album is far more accessable than the previous "Frances the Mute" (one of my favorite albums). To make things easier, I'll run through the track listing.

1. Vicarious Atonement - This song is beautiful. A simple bassline lays down the law, and a small guitar feature fades into Cedric's first words of the album, which are chilling. Over a minute or two, this builds until Cedric sounds like he starts to almost, well, break down. Silence...keyboards come in softly, and then Cedric starts the lyrics "Don't let these hands sharpen your eyes", as the bassline repeats and things start moving a little faster. The sax starts to wail in the background, and then - almost randomly -

2. Tetragrammaton - The entrance is an explosion of sound, and Jon goes mad on the drums. As stated earlier, this song is Jon's highlight of the album. An odd choice of note structure here makes for an interesting guitar overlay, as one guitar plays over the phrase, then another, and on the final phrase, they meld together oddly and yet quite in place. Theres a small section where the guitar is soloing completely, quite soft, in 3/4 (mimicked to sound like 6/8 in places by the clever use of speaker interpolation). The verse begins, and Cedric sounds beatiful. Juan sets a nice bassline for the guitar to follow, as Jon steadily groes more furious through the phrase. It repeats, back to the calm, and builds again - this time into the chorus. The chorus on this song is my favorite chorus ever written. It's very syncapated and quite upbeat, and the keyboard is very prominent. Cedric wails in octaves unheard of. Throughout the rest of the song, there are other great moments as well, but you'd probably rather me get on to the next songs. Just as a preview, there is a slow section of ambience that randomly bursts into a guitar solo over the chorus riff, a slower section featuring some saxophone, and an outro reminiscent to it's first couple minutes.

3. Vermicide - this song, while not the album's single, is very radio friendly. It's quite reminiscent to At The Drive-In's material, without the screaming. The chorus "Bear Them, Serveants", is a great line, albite a bit cheesey. It has a nice 5-bar phrase bridge.

4. Meccamputechture - At first, I honestly didn't like this song, but now I'd have to say it is one of my favorites on the album. It opens up with Cedric...Rapping? Yes. Cedric raps the introduction, and it actually is pretty sweet. Juan lays down an absolutely juicy bassline for which the rest of the song is based. The chorus of this song is actually pretty pop-ish in many ways, and the lyrics aren't much like the crazy metophoric language used in other choruses (Everyone stares all the time, persuasion deflowers your sympathy...) A nice outro with the saxophone, and fades into -

5. Asilos Magdelana - this song is completely acoustic, except for the beginning and the end. Cedric's vocals here are the best on the album, in my opinion. Instead of the high, double layered lyrics used on many of the tracks on this album, Cedric sings at an all time low - pitch wise, that is. His voice is quite calming when in this register. The song slowly turns more gruesome towards the end as cedric sounds like he's turning into a demon...and the guitar finally fades to the techno beginning of -

6.Viscera Eyes - this song has a nice repetitive riff that's great to dance to. There isn't too much to say about it, except that it's chorus is out of this world, and the lyrics to it are VERY catchy. The second half of the song features Juan laying down a nice latin groove, still in 4/4 and yet utterly deceiving timewise.

7. Day of the Baphomets - 12/10. This song is my favorite of the album, just above Tetragrammaton. It opens up with a bass feature, and the rythem is reminiscent to Tool. The beat groes and guitar becomes more prominent, and then theres a sudden explosion of sounds as all hell seems to come flying from the music. Saxophone wails into the first verse, with lyrics almost exactly the same as the early "Plauge Upon your Hissing." The song changes keys many times, and something I found of interest is this song mimics all the previous track's key signatures, playing them all through in reverse. Quite interesting! The song closes on an interesting note after a great bongo performance and cedric singing the highest I've ever heard him, almost rediculously high. This song actually has a "silly" vibe to it, but still conjures images of the earth exploding.

8. El Ciervo Vulnerado - At first I didn't give this song much chance, skipping it to move on to Cygnus (the next song on my playlist). The first time I really listened to it was when I was falling alseep to the album. This song is scary. It really is. It's so freaking chilling, especially the backwards voices towards the end. The sitars and effects mash together and climax and randomly and suddenly - End. That's the end of Amputechture. A masterpiece.

And props to Omar, who did a fantastic job of producing.

This album has grown on me more and more with each listen. I'd ask anybody whos interested in Prog Rock to pick this up when it comes out September 12th. Even if you aren't interested in this type of music, give it a chance. Chances are, your first time it'll be too much to bring in, but over time it will definetly grow on you.

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Send comments to Shweabo (BETA) | Report this review (#85121)
Posted Saturday, July 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
msteele@twcny
2 stars I purchased this album online because I wanted to check it out because of all the amazing reviews I've read here at Prog Archives. It's also the number #2 ranked album of 2006 currently.

I usually enjoy the more sophisticated/metal side of the progressive spectrum, but I love bands such as the Cardigans too so I am fairly wide open to any kind of music. I have Nick Lachey - What's Left Of Me on my desktop right now if you can believe that!

So needless to say that this was my first experience with Mars Volta. It will be my last too.

Am I missing something here?

I honestly couldn't wait to shut it off. The musicianship sounds very mediocre to me as if the members of Mars Volta have just started a garage band and are trying to find their sound. The really bad over-used harmonized guitar in the beginning of the album got on my nerves FAST. The falsetto singing/yelling got on my nerves too especially in Tetra and Day Of The Baphomets.

This bands most gifted member is the drummer. He has some nice beats and he holds everything together very well, but I wouldn't say he's anything special.

I did enjoy the acoustic guitar on Asilos Magdalena. I thought it was the best song on the album, but it was an obvious departure of what this band really stands for.

How is this album rated #2 and why are there so many 5 star reviews? I'm guessing Mars Volta have a following and a devoted fanbase, because I can't hear anything on this album worthwhile of 5 stars. Masterpiece? Maybe for them but not for me.

I am rating this album 2 stars because unless you're a fan of Mars Volta already, I doubt you'll appreciate it. Collectors/fans only.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#88149)
Posted Friday, August 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
patrickbatema
5 stars Great album from top to botom. I f you love all the different types of music that they do and I do than you should love it. The best word to describe the album is consistant. Every album so far succeeds my expectations every time. The thing I love best about the album is the lack of filler sounds. That was my only gripe from the "Frances The Mute" album, and what do they go and do they fix it. The guitars are great the vocals are great and good god is the drumming [%*!#]ing insanely perfect(RIP JON). I am afraid of what a bad album would sound like, probably pretty good compared to the [&*!#] that is out there right now. I may be listening to the best band on the planet and maybe in the future, a band that will be in the ranks with the likes of The Beatles, Led Zepplin, and Pink Floyd. Thats just me but if they keep putting out albums like this every two years, they probably will be remembered in that same elite.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#88190)
Posted Friday, August 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
OpethGuitarist
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars After debating heavily on where I should put this album, I decided to be as "fair" as I possibly could. In reality, I don't get much out of this album. I think it is better than Frances the Mute, but it's not good enough to be something I'd listen to consistently.

This album is an improvement in the MARS VOLTA sound from their previous album, but lacks the imagination that Deloused' had. It sounds considerably like an offshoot of Pink Floyd, especially the first song, Vicarious Atonement. Throughout the album, the guitar play is made mostly by what I will call "solo riffs". We have a lead guitar that is playing scale patterns to create most of the general riff patterns. For me this is not particularly enjoayble, as I generally prefer impressive chords combinations combined with a small bit of solo work. On Deloused we more or less had that, an example being the crashing chords that make track 2(Inertiac) come alive.

The band has almost gone full prog rock with this album, and that's not necessarily a bad thing, however, I just get the feeling that they are rehashing old ideas and not pushing the envelope like they did on Deloused with their more or less "punk" sound. I think the punk sound more aptly fits them as well, due to the nature of Cedric's voice. However, it is clear with this release that that is not the direction the band wants to take.

This album doesn't particularly do anything for me, but as it's an improvement over Frances and it's much better planned out, it's something that is worth holding on to for me. This album is a good choice for those looking for some commercial modern prog.

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Send comments to OpethGuitarist (BETA) | Report this review (#88580)
Posted Thursday, August 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I don't chime in too often here on the archives, but some albums just need the praise heaped on if you ask me. This album came out on saturday here in Australia and I haven't stopped listening to it yet. That's only 5 or 6 spins, really, but so far it's still improving with each one. And I liked it from the beginning!

This is an insane powerhouse of an album. For those of you not already into the Mars Volta it may not be the place to start, but for Goodness' sake, don't let it pass you by. There's a bit of everything on here. There's even a little acoustic ballad (I didn't expect that!) to give you a break from what is generally a very challenging listen. Man, these guys get so loud and hard it feels like your headphones are melting your earwax....in a good way, of course!

I think a track-by-track for this album is a somewhat insufficient because words can't properly describe the effect created by the many wild shifts in mood and tempo these songs will throw at you. This is an album of highlights with nary a low point, as far as I'm concerned.

I think if you enjoy King Crimson's heavier, more experimental work (ie, Larks' Tongue, Red, Thrak et al) there is a big chance you'll find something to enjoy here. If you have any sort of appreciation for drumming, you owe it to yourself to hear this, as Jon Theodore proves himself to be an animal, and a highly technical one at that.

There some argument to be made that The Mars Volta deserve extra points just for sounding so unique. They really have gone out of their way to avoid riding on the coat tails of their influnces, which is not only admirable, but also goes straight to the core of what progressive music is about. Their dedication to making music which is so staunchly uncommercial is appreicated as well.

On an individual level, Omar deserves praise as well. He is a strong song writer, but what he truly excels at, I think, is arranging and producing. This album is a technical bloody marvel and the arrangements are astonishing once you consider how many instruments are being played at any given time.

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Send comments to Eapo_q42 (BETA) | Report this review (#89409)
Posted Sunday, September 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album was a huge surprise for me, only a year and some months after their gigantic epic album "Frances the Mute" the Mars Volta brought out another new release. This being rather fast for bands nowadays (hardly anybody brings out 3 albums in 3 years), I assumed this release perhaps could sound a little rushed. So when the thing was leaked I downloaded and listened to it as fast as I could. It didn't felt like a rushed album, instead it felt like a completely new experience and a new sort of music. After their switch in styles from Deloused to Frances, the Mars Volta again "reinvented" their sound. Instead of the post-hardcore sound on Deloused and the ambience/psychedelic sort of style on Frances there is a lot a room for influences from Free-jazz on this album. They play long jams with long solos which sound improvised when recorded so raw. The entire album is a guitar orgy, with solos everywhere.

The album takes of with a rather slow song called "Vicarious Atonement". I haven't got a clue where the lyrics are about or what the song titles even suggest but the Mars Volta isn't really my lyric band, for me they are pure about the music. The song is a very nice intro into the album and quite beautiful. It somehow picks up where Frances left with "Cassandra Gemini". The next track however is a lot faster and changes pace about 500 times. The track jumps up and down and up again the entire time and I must say it's a thrilling listen, the entire 16 minutes. Then comes a short track which could be a nice single, but they've chosen another track. This is sort of "the Widow" from this album except for the ambient noises in the end. Speaking of ambience, it's hardly here on this album which will please a lot of fans who thought Frances was horrible because of its ambient parts. The next track sort of is the title track and stands for another 11 minute of true musical bliss.

Four tracks into the album the music only get better and better with the next 4 tracks. The first half was good and all but the last 40 minutes is the part what really counts. The tracks don't really get lengthier but they do get extended jams and solos in them. The riffs get even better and the music sometimes stays in it's pace, fast or slow, instead of going in any direction possible as on the first half. The second half starts with the song they've chosen to be their single. I'd say it's a weird choice since the third song "Vermicide" is a lot more radio friendly. This track is completely sung in Spanish a mostly consists of acoustic guitars supporting Cedric's vocals. It's a beautiful track, but wouldn't by my choice for a single. Up next is song consisting of 2 parts. First is the part with the awesome riffing, later switching into a part with a 2 minute guitar solo. It's a mayor highlight for me, but nothing compared to the next track with stands as the grand epic from the album. Day of Baphomets (what a title again) has lot's and lot's of music transitions and lot's of styles going right through each other. On some parts the first things that comes to mind is "King Crimson". It's seems only logical that they're influenced but damn this song looks a lot like "21st Century Schizoid Man" on some parts with the sax. It's damn good nevertheless. The Album closes in the same style as it begun. With a relax kind of song with nice solos. Think Shine On You Crazy Diamond yet in Mars Volta style.

After Frances being my top album of 2005, this album so far is my strongest contender for album of the year. Really I'm a huge Tool fan but 10.000 days doesn't feel as great as this albums feels. I don't know for sure yet but I think the Mars Volta have outdone themselves once again. Amazing album, very long (76 minutes) but highly recommended)

written for www.musicmademe.com

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Send comments to Jochem (BETA) | Report this review (#89453)
Posted Monday, September 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Brilliant album, their best so far.

This morning I was so excited to get this album that I showed up at Best Buy early accidantally to get it. It was worth the wait. This album is absolutely amazing. "Tetragrammaton", "Viscera Eyes", and "Day of the Baphomets" are all standout tracks but the entire album is still a masterpeice of progressive rock.

The album is different from The Mars Volta's previous two releases, as they ditch the filler of noisemaking and decide to create lush sonic landscapes instead. The lyrics are everything I expect from the Mars Volta, and the songwriting and musicianship are top-notch.

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Send comments to The Green Tank (BETA) | Report this review (#89513)
Posted Tuesday, September 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
liberalstan@c
4 stars Ah, The Mars Volta triumph again after that masturbatory piece of tedium, Frances the Mute.

When I originally reviewed Deloused in the Comatorium, I rated it as a masterpiece without really understanding what made it so. At that point in time, I was content that it was one of the more musically satisfying pieces of modern music I had ever heard. Well, now I can tell you why it is a masterpiece - it is the best example of a successful fusion of modern indie-punk and progressive rock. I am happy to say that Amputechture is quite different on many levels, but is similar in DitC's high-energy approach. Apparently Omar A. Rodriguez Lopez learned from the poor reception of Frances the Mute's excessive repetition.

Song by song, this album is quite varied, though it takes more of a formulated stylistic approach than DitC - where the concept of consistent style was completely thrown out the window (to great success, I might add). Let me approach Amputechture on a track-by-track basis.

Vicarious Atonement - 9/10

Likely one of the most laid-back peices ever written by Omar A. Rodriguez Lopez. It is a very surprising choice for an opener, since the slow tempo and consonant chord progressions are quite unlike the tense "Son et Lumiere" or intense "Cygnus... Vismund Cygnus". What grabs me in this piece is its spaciness - it's almost Floydian in approach, though the guitar stabs and riffs are slightly less lingering. The reason I don't rate it a 10 is because of its similarity to Floyd - though it's an excellent song in its own right, it is not anything ground breaking.

Tetragrammaton - 10/10 Essentially the "Cassandra Gemini" of this album, though far better. I used to love Cassandra Gemini for its length, but again, that piece was plagued by the consistent repetition characteristic of FTM. Tetragrammaton shows us that The Mars Volta realized that variety and quick changes in energy are key to an enjoyable epic. From the opening dissonances to the melodic riffs and the sharp contrasting sounds, Tetragrammaton did not dissapoint me at all throughout its duration.

Vermicide - 7/10

A ballad, nothing more, nothing less. I enjoy it more than "The Widow" because it has more complex chord progressions and a slightly more interesting guitar solo, but nothing more. In the context of the album, especially after Tetragrammaton, it's a good change in energy and an enjoyable tune.

Meccamputechture - 10/10

Again, like Tetragrammaton, this is an epic of a piece that shows The Mars Volta is capable of more variety within a piece that clunkers like "L'via L'viaquez" or "Cassandra Gemini". It is controlled, the singing is excellent, and most of all, it keeps me interested. Quite a nice piece that picks the energy back up after Vermicide.

Asilos Magdalena - 9/10

A Spanish ballad at first glance, but an exhibition of techincal prowess on the second. Both Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriquez Lopez show their mastery on this piece. The very spanish/mexican acoustic guitar is top notch, spot on, and a pleasure to listen to. Bixler-Zavala is also a pleasure to listen to - and he shows that his range of control is not just at the fortissimo end of the dynamic spectrum, but also the piano/pianissimo end. A very nice little electric guitar solo shows that Omar, though he's content to play acoustic rhythm guitar, still has the means to provide a contrast to Cedric's melodic crooning.

Viscera Eyes - 7/10

This is a harsh rating for this song in the eyes of many fans, but I find that it has the same problems as "L'via L'Viaquez" or "Cassandra Gemini" - the repetition. I'm very happy when TMV jams in concert, but not so much on a studio release. Though the sections of this tune are all interesting, they wear quickly and do not improve with age. While the techincality of the tune and the originality of the riffs are right up there with the rest of the album, they just go on for too long.

Day of the Baphomets - 10/10

Wow! This goes up there as one of TMV's most progressive tunes, along with "Take the Veil" or "Cicatriz ESP". The rhythmic variations are many and the key/meter changes abound! I was very happy to hear this song for the first time because not only did it show the proficiency of all the individual members (guitar, sax, percussion, bass) but also the proficiency of the band as a whole. Not only do they have the chops to solo, but the chops to create some spectacular music together! Definitely the highlight of the album.

El Ciervo Vulnerado - 9/10

Another top-notch, slow-tempo, space-rock piece. Many people compare it to the beginning but it has enough differences to be fresh. The use of the sitar instrumentation (or at least something that sounds like it) and spacey melodies are well-done. Again, see my justification for rating Vicarious Atonement a 9/10 - my explanation here is the same. It isn't earth-shattering, but a very pleasant and well executed piece.

Overall: ( 9+10+7+10+9+7+10+9)/8 = 8.875/2 = 4.4375, rounded down to 4. Again, basically as good as DitC but not as groundbreaking.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#89520)
Posted Tuesday, September 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I've followed The Mars Volta before they existed. At the turn of the millenium, I was thoroughly convinced At the Drive-In was going to become one of the great innovators of rock. When they splintered, I followed their two most popular creative forces into what became The Mars Volta. One EP and three LP's later, I am left jaw-slacken at what they've evolved into. They have become everything I hoped they would: master musicians.

Tremulant was an incredible sampler that was over my hallucinogenic head at the time of it's release. De-Loused was a masterpiece but it reeks of drug use, which I once viewed as a positive but now see as having cheapened the album. Francis, while a fine album, was opaque and it's difficulty was, in my opinion, a deliberate attempt by the artists to hide it's inherent superficiality and lack of depth.

What is this album, Amputechture and where the hell did it come from? I can not define it. Although "original" is an adjective used to the point of cliche in music reviews, I have never been hit with a piece of music this original upon first listen. It strikes me as a piece of classical music. You can hear Omar has arranged the group into a "big band" sound and it plays out more like a piece of art than it does a rock album.

I want to stand up and shout, this band is too good for most people to "get" and I'd like to keep it that way. Those morons at Pitchforkmedia, who constantly promote shoe gazer crap, slagged this album because it was over their heads.

Is there something I am missing because this album has inspired me to drop an entire Saturday night just to listen to it in it's entirety. It is impenatrable and a challenge, and it is incredibly good. Cedric is the image of this band, Omar the orchestrator. John Frusciante is my favorite guitarist of all time and to have him play guitar for an entire album with my favorite band, is too good to be true. I recommend. Too early for detail. We speak your name.

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Send comments to oewells40 (BETA) | Report this review (#89828)
Posted Saturday, September 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
wileyc0y0te13
4 stars after frances the mute, my expectations for the mars volta on this album were high. hearing the news of multiple guitarist at work would be good remembering back to atdi where the rythm guitar realy kept the rythm, bass (hinojos) would play along but improv on that rythm, and guitar (omar) would play a lead riff/counter melody.

i really dont see the need for frusciante, honestly. omar couldve just as easily double tracked and left hinojos to do the doubled stuff live. two guitars is good for some songs, not all. but atleast omar is still doing the heavy lifting (vicarious atonement and other solos). i also saw the second guitar take away from two very vital resources that omar has; sax and keyboards. musically speaking the sax and guitar are very similar (espically tenor) and having that second guitar replaced with a sax wouldve freakin rocked! (mainly viscera eyes where they played alot but terrazas couldve played more closely with omar). my biggest complaint: whered the strings go?!?!?! a mellotron or the string section that omar had last time wouldve completely owned this album. i was hoping for more work on that. but on keyboards synths did help along with the rhodes but more organ please. thats ikey's main thing and that korg hammond imitator really got the job done on previous albums.

album highlights are tracks 1-4 and day of baphomets,7. in fact day of baphomets and Vermicide are the albums strong points having been previously writen just never released. Day is classic frantic volta style, and feels similar to cassanda, and vermicide is orginally an at the drive-in song that is very close to the incredible concertina off of tremulant.

other than that the album is an epic, ballad-ish, omar written and controled album. and it shows. none the less the mars volta.

for referance: frances the mute > ampretechture > deloused in the commatorium = tremulant IMO.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#89831)
Posted Saturday, September 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Amputechture is the third studio album by The Mars Volta, one of the most popular new bands of the progressive rock scene. The new album, written on the road during their 2005 tour, is a swirling mix of angular guitar riffs, soaring vocals, frantic drumming and warbling saxophones. According to Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, the album is the first to stray from the concept-album format that the band utilized on its first two albums (2003's Deloused in the Comatorium and 2005's Frances the Mute). Bixler explains that the eight songs are several separate vignettes being told through a common voice.

Track by track:

1) Vicarious Atonement (7:19)

Amputechture starts off with "Vicarious Atonement," a slow song that features the harmonized guitars of guitarist Omar Rodriguez and John Frusciante (of the Red Hot Chili Peppers). The introductory guitar solo glides over the sonic landscape provided by new sound effects artist Pablo Hinojos and keyboardist Isaiah "Ikey" Owens. Towards the end of the song, woodwind player Adrian Terrazas enters the mix, treating us to an avant-garde soprano sax solo reminiscent of John Coltrane. Amputechture is the first Mars Volta album to prominently feature Terrazas, who debuted on Frances The Mute and has toured with the band ever since. In its final seconds, "Vicarious Atonement" descends into musical chaos, with several layers of ambient effects gradually building up around Terrazas' wailing sax until it abruptly switches to the next track.

2) Tetragrammaton (16:41)

"Tetragrammaton" starts without warning, which is not at all unusual for the typical Mars Volta album. What I found most impressive about the first few seconds of Tetragrammaton was the machine-gun drumming of former drummer Jon Theodore (who has recently been replaced with ex-Laddio Bolocko drummer Blake Flemming). The introductory shred-fest soon gives way to Bixler's mind bending poetry, which, as far as I can tell consists of combining obscure medical terms with obscure mechanical terms. For example, in "Tetragrammaton," Cedric sings "The kiosk in my temporal lobe is shaped like Rosalyn Carter." Umm.sure it is, Cedric. Despite the fact that his lyrics make absolutely no sense (which adds a pleasant certain surrealist sense to his cryptic symbolism and obscure allusions), Cedric is no slouch in the vocal department, where his falsetto voice perfectly accompanies the jarring sound of the rest of the band. One complaint that I have with "Tetragrammaton" is that the song switches movements abruptly, whereas in the past, we listeners would've been gradually transferred between sections with ambient sound effects, or at least a shrieking blast of guitar noise. The abruptness between songs is the only thing that keeps me from declaring this album a masterpiece. Many of the song transitions are abrupt and do not flow, often ending in the middle of a bar of music.

3) Vermicide (4:15)

"Vermicide" is by far the shortest song on the album, and has recently been released by the band as a single. Like their previous single, "The Widow," Vermicide is a short, concise piece which is the closest thing to a conventional "song" on the album. The band plays very well on this track, and it's a shame that it doesn't receive much radio play, as it is truly one of the highlights of the album.

4) Meccamputechture (11:02)

"Meccamputechture" follows the single "Vermicide" and is very different from the songs that The Mars Volta usually puts out. For instance, there is very little guitar work on this song. However, the band uses this song to make use of synthesizers, various studio effects and tape loops, which have not played such a major role in their songs. The horn parts on "Meccamputechture," arranged by Rodriguez, add a certain ethnic flair, which is common throughout the album. The song also benefits from the effects-laden bass lines of Juan Alderete. The only part of the song that is truly hard on the ears is the very end, which ends mid-measure and confusingly transitions into the next song, a slow acoustic number.

5) Asilos Magdalena (6:34)

Out of the chaos of "Meccamputechture" comes "Asilos Magdalena," an acoustic ballad sung in Spanish. The slow, plaintive melody of the song is downright haunting, and the ambient noises and sound effects towards the end only add to the macabre atmosphere of the song. This song serves as a nice segue between the two "halves" of the album, and also as a chance for the listener to catch their breath.

6) Viscera Eyes (9:23)

With "Viscera Eyes," the album descends into its epic craziness once more, rapidly enveloping the listener with a memorable riff that seems to recall Frances the Mute's "L'Via L'Viaquez." Actually, I managed to draw several similarities between these two songs; both have two basic sections, one of which is straightforward rock n' roll (or at least as a straightforward as The Mars Volta can be) and the other is a groove which draws direct influence from Latin music styles. Also, both songs feature the guitar work of John Frusciante and tend to be some of their catchiest tunes.

7) Day of the Baphomets (11:56)

"Baphomets" starts off with a mind blowing bass solo from veteran shredder Alderete, who cut his teeth in metal bands such as Racer X. In this solo, he seems to emulate the jazz-rock styles of the late Jaco Pastorius, of whom Alderete is a self-professed fan. If any of the lyrics "Baphomets" sound familiar, it's because Cedric recycled some of them from a previously unreleased Mars Volta song. "Baphomets" also prominently features a percussion solo by Omar's brother Marcel Rodriguez-Lopez, which takes the listener by surprise. However, I look forward to it every time I listen to the album.

8) El Ciervo Vulnerado (8:50)

Finally, the album comes full circle. "El Ciervo Vulnerado" is another slow song with searing guitar work, which is built over a dissonant soundscape of Alderete's slow bass line, Hinojos' sound manipulation and the faint buzzing of a sitar. Cedric nearly whispers his lyrics on this song, which adds to the abysmal atmosphere of the song. Unfortunately, the song ends mid-bar, much to my annoyance, as I would've preferred a gradual fadeout to an abrupt silence, which made it seem like the album finished prematurely.

Conclusion:

The hotly-anticipated Amputechture will not disappoint avid fans of the Mars Volta, though some of them may be surprised by the toned-down amounts of ambient noise throughout the album. While it is still quite prevalent, those who disliked Frances for the amount of ambient noise between songs will be pleased with the restrain displayed on Amputechture. However, I wouldn't recommend Amputechture to those unfamiliar with The Mars Volta's music, as that would be better left to an earlier album.

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Send comments to Tiresias (BETA) | Report this review (#91113)
Posted Friday, September 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Probably the Volta's most complete and well rounded album. A lot more meaningful progressive moments here than like in the past when it was just filler or bombast. Tetragrammaton is one of the better monments of Volta's career, which has all the ingredients you would expect in a prog epic, just with some TMV flavor. I still think that they have a couple masterpieces up their sleeve in the future, and I must say that this one comes awfully close. A very enjoyable record, something that is not easily said with TMV in the same breath. It is probably closer to 4.5 stars than 4.

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Send comments to streetcarp19 (BETA) | Report this review (#93868)
Posted Monday, October 09, 2006 | Review Permalink
Prog-jester
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Sorry, but TMV has died completely for me with this one.I listen to it almost for a month,and every time it gets more disappointing for me.I don't want to wait untill it become a 1-star album,so you may have this review.

De-loused is their best,I guess.I dislike Frances,but it seems to be a Masterpiece comparing to THIS. TMV always wrote a lot of filler (maybe,to make their albums longer),but this time they have overgrown themselves - a whole album of filler material!!! OK,there is a one good song ("Vermicide"). But the others...Weak "Magdalena",noisy "Day of the Baphomets",boring "Meccamputechture",way too long intro and outro (with some post-rock touch...nice tunes,but 7 and 9 minutes?This is too much!!!) and "Tetragrammaton" with "Viscera Eyes" (I can describe them as "listenable"). I wonder what has happened to Volta - they have lost their challenging nature,and this album sounds exactly like the previous one,but in a degrading way. Things getting worse. What shall we got on their 4th? 79 minutes of noises? Sorry, I quit.

A Cue: Long songs doesn't equal Prog.

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Send comments to Prog-jester (BETA) | Report this review (#95239)
Posted Friday, October 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
NJprogfan
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The two mainstream prog bands I was most looking forward to purchasing their new album's, TOOL and MARS VOLTA, I can honsetly say I was disappointed with both. They both suffer with the same problem, too much of a good thing. That especially holds true with MARS VOLTA'S latest. Like the ugly sister of a beauty queen, ('Frances The Mute') "Amputechure" features much of the same: blazing fast crazy beats mixed with high pitched vocals, a bit of spanish and a boatload of hyperspeed tempo changes. Sure, you get a somewhat pretty acoustic ditty to calm things down, ('Asilos Magdalena') and a track that might be the closest they come to an actual song, ('Vermicide') but the rest sound like leftovers from their previous album. The proof for me is that after listening to this album for a week, non-stop I can not for the life of me remember a single melody. Sure, they're not looking to be melodic, even though their first two albums had plenty, but I'm sorry, I'm looking to be reeled in somehow and this one didn't. It's not boring, not even close. And it's a grower, taking me awhile to find things to like. Maybe after my 100th listening I'll enjoy it more, but to my ears they tried making a meaty stew but ended up with just the meat and hard to chew at that. 3 stars on effort but not even close to being something I could recommend, (except maybe to fans of RIO/advant garde).

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Send comments to NJprogfan (BETA) | Report this review (#95865)
Posted Thursday, October 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
Moatilliatta
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars After owning the album for a month and a half, I think it's done all the growing it needs. This is surely the most abstract and difficult listen from the group yet. I'm truely amazed at how many people are claiming this to be either the first Mars Volta album they could get into or that it was their best work yet (for the latter, at least when the album had just leaked on the internet; I don't see how it clicked so easily for them). I had so much anticipation pent up for this, and even more so since the release date was pushed back another three weeks from the initial projection. I managed not to hear a second of this before putting my copy in the CD player. Not knowing what to expect, here is what I encountered:

The first track was very nice, seven minutes of soft, blissful music unlike anything from before. It served as a great start, though it's not much of a stand-alone song. As I watched the time nearing the end of the first track, I braced myself, waiting for the inevitable explosion of maniacal brilliance. "Tetragrammaton" did provide the off-the- wall music I was anticipating, but it seemed surprisingly toned down. I can't even explain it, the tempos were high, the drumming was all over the place, etc. Everything was in its right place, Cedric even hit his highest notes yet (he seems to hit higher notes every album), but something just seemed different. Through the whole 16+ minutes of song, I was waiting to hear them go totally nuts, but the whole time I got nothing. It was rather restrained. It left me doing a mental shrug. The next track, "Vermicide," was an easy listen. The only track under 5 minutes, simple, but very good. "Meccamputecture" had a very cool intro, but then, as the preceding epic, it seemed so different than what I anticipated. It seemed more restrained, and empty. Considering it was 11 minutes long, there wasn't a whole lot of traversing, as I was accustomed to. "Asilos Magdalena" was beautiful, though it had a bizarre ending, which I didn't understand until later. It really had a thematic meaning when putting it to the lyrics (which are all in Spanish). Viscera Eyes was a real rocker. Cool tune, but not spectacular, until about five or six minutes into it when the song does a total change with a fun bassline. All that follows was one of the more enjoyable parts I had heard yet. Then, as we got to the final epic, I had really high hopes that it would bank on all of my hopes, and my goodness did it! Wow, "Day of the Baphomets" was everything I had hoped to hear from them here, the energy and power to be specific. There is a bass solo at the beginning and auxiliary percussion solo towards the end, which were neat surprises. Then, after being totally satisfied with that song, "El Ciervo Vulnerado" turned out to be a long, boring, useless track. It sort of rides the same lines as the intro, but it doesn't conclude anything; it doesn't even conclude itself (literally, the song cuts off in the middle of something, or nothing depending on how you view the song, either way, it ends out of nowhere). I was left confused, however I bet that was Cedric and Omar's aim. I don't even think they are ever going to revisit the incomplete ending of this album.

However, upon countless listens, almost everything I didn't get or appreciate clicked. The last track still does nothing for me, making it the first Mars Volta track that I can not give highest praise to. The epics are now all excellent in my eyes, and I am pleased. Even still, I can't help but put it below the previous two atom bombs. I appreciate it, but I don't see this one ever having the sentimental value the other two do. I'll give it 4 1/2 stars, rounded up, but know that it does not match the perfection of De-Loused in the Comatorium and Frances the Mute.

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Send comments to Moatilliatta (BETA) | Report this review (#96103)
Posted Saturday, October 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
Zitro
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 4.5 Stars

The last Mars Volta album is a surprise. It is a masterpiece, but not without flaws. It seems like the band decided to avoid the mistakes they did in Frances The mute (long background music, bunch of noises, random songwriting) and focused on song-oriented music with songs that really do stand well on their own, as they don't seem connected to each other at all. The album is flawed because some songs don't end propertly and because (Maybe it's just me) the guitar playing and something the saxophone can sound a bit unpleasant due to their lack of melody whenever they play solos. Anyways, this is a great album with lots of innovation, wonderful musical ideas, Memorable riffs and melodies, and lots of variety. The popular "anti-pop" band surpassed themselves, releasing an album of high quality that will likely be considered a classic among progressive rock fans and all music for that matter. Here are all the songs:

Vicarious Atonement: How Interesting that the album begins with a song that doesn't really recall anything from their previous album (Frances The Mute). A spacey atmosphere created with keyboards, guitar synths, and sound effects dominate for minutes. the music is always slow and may bring to mind the mood of a typical Pink Floyd song in their early 70s space rock period. This song is driven by the unique voice of Cedric, the virtuosic guitar playing which is an acquired taste, and finally a wild and atonal Saxophone which takes the front in the avant-garde finale. The song ends abruptly which quite irritates me. 8/10

Tetragrammaton, a huge epic which doesn't overstay its welcome at all. This monster of a track throws at you a wide spectrum of melodies, riffs, tones, and rhythms. This monster of a track is the most representative Mars Volta song I know, showing you have inaccessible, complicated, creative, and masterful the band can be. However, I just can't find any major complaints about this song. The guitar is quite melodic this time, the vocals great and listenable, and the rhythm mindblowing at all times. The main reasons why this song stands as one of my favourite tracks of 2006 is the diversity of the song, the innovative music and the excellent riffs and themes this song posesses. Beware, this song is very difficult to get into. 10/10

Vermicide is a very pleasant sounding mid-tempo song with neat subtle riffs in the background, catchy vocal melodies--such as "when I became a lover, You fed me from your plate"--great vocal performance by Cedric, and very neat guitars, such as the melodic solo connecting the first chorus with the second verse and the heavier section after the second chorus which is followed with the melody of the guitar solo I described before. 9/10

Meccamputechture overstays its welcome a bit, knowing that it's mostly the same thing for over ten minutes, but this is really good music! The intro is easily the best intro I heard from a Mars Volta song, containing frantic instrumentation, rap-like singing, and a very catchy riff. Then, the singer sings his best melodies near the beginning under one of the grooviest and most amazing rhythm sections in the whole world of Progressive Rock. Under a rhythm of 6/4 with drumming recalling John Bonhman's "When the Levee Breaks" and a wonderful-sounding bass playing an insanely catchy bass line which I could say that it's my all-time favourite bass line in the history of music. You have to hear it. here is a variation of the rhythms and several different melodies and solos (unfortunately, a bit on the unmelodic side) but unfortunately, it is a shame that the song is longer than it should be. You have to listen to listen to the chorus of the song: mindblowing stuff! Meccamputechture ends with style, with the catchy intro riff, hammond organ soloing, and a main vocal melody of the song. 9/10

Asilos Magdalena: Begins very avant-garde and unmelodic, but after forty seconds, it develops into an outstanding acoustic song with satanic Spanish lyrics and subtle tempo changes between verses and choruses. The highlight of Asilos are the spooky, simple choruses that anyone could play on the guitar. After the second chorus, a great melody is repeated by Cedric with two acoustic guitars. Eventually, the vocals get more and more distorted until a, I'm sorry to say, horrible, repugnant, terrible, unmelodic, random, and uncomfortable guitar solo finishes the piece. It's such a shame that a wonderful song gets ruined by bad guitars. 7/10

Viscera Eyes: A song dominated by brilliant riffs, both in verses, pre-choruses, and choruses: they are some of the best riffs in this record. The choruses contain a great hook that would make this song radio-friendly if it wasn't so long. A musical break commences at minute six with a virtuosic guitar solo under a groovy rhythm. 8.5/10

Day of the Baphomets: The most interesting song of Amputechture. Beginning with a bass solo, the song turns into total chaos. This is the most inaccessible song there is here, mainly because it is complex and very loud. Like Tetragrammaton, it has many changes within the song, but is more coherent, and the sections are more enjoyable I dare to say, thanks to great riffs and solos. In minute 6, an amazing rhythmic riffs blows you away, and it will later come back with a mindblowing guitar solo. Between the space between the two riffs, you have a catchy and fast-paced section with a great background riff. The song ends with a percussion solo and frantic vocals. 10/10

El Ciervo Vulnerado: a mellow finisher that recalls the mood of Vicarious Atonement, yet is even slower. Unfortunately, this song never clicked on me. It's not filler not anything: the band put effort in this piece, but it just sounds directionless and dull to me. To make things worse, it finishes without a proper ending. 4/10

Who should get this album and who shouldn't: This album is certainly inaccessible due to its different style and unconventional vocals and songwriting. I think this album will be enjoyed by listeners who are up to opening their minds to something new and creative and people with a short attention span regarding music should really stay away. Also, fans of 70s prog rock who don't like King Crimson/Mahasuvishi Orchestra, etc should probably stay away too. This has a serious jazz-fusion influence, so you should take that into consideration. Also, fans of MArs Volta ... well, what are you waiting for??

My Grade : A/B

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Send comments to Zitro (BETA) | Report this review (#96899)
Posted Thursday, November 02, 2006 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars

A Bit of Background [that you might want to skip!]

The partnership between Omar Rodriguez-Lopez [who wrote and arranged all music and directs the group] & Cedrix Bixler-Zavala [who wrote all lyrics and vocal melodies] is The Mars Volta. That's exactly the phrases that I read right at the beginning of the sleeve note. This reinstates that this is basically a two-piece band. Well, actually it's not the case as the sleeve continues with a statement that there are members of The Mars Volta Group. Nevermind. What I'm really happy is that the fact that this album is printed and distributed locally at my country with reasonable price of USD 8. The previous album "Frances The Mute" was also printed locally here. I'm happy that Indonesia is becoming proggier than ever. Many young men that love Porcupine Tree, Pain of Salvation, The Tangent, The Flower Kings etc. Oh yes, we have PROG NITEs as well, featuring Indonesian bands like Imannissimo, In Memoriam, Anane, Nerv, etc. This site has been very popular also in my country. Good progress. Keep on proggin' ..!

While I was listening to "Amputechture" I also had this albums in my play list: Kamelot "The Fourth Legacy", Isildurs Bane "The Voyage - A Trip To Elsewhere", B2N Bernard "Helping Hands" (Indonesian jazz rock / fusion), SBB 2 & 3, Anglagard "Epilog" and Finnforest. This would give you some background on my writing nuance. I am sure my standpoint might be different if I got other albums that surround this review. It might.

The Album Review [that you might want to read ..]

THE MARS VOLTA "Amputechture" is more accessible to me than its previous album "Frances The Mute". At leasr, Amputechture has lesser sound effects that tends to be boring at "Frances". Even though the music is quite strange, with more spins it really grew on me.

The opening track "Vicarious Atonement" (7:19) is a true killer for me. It starts in an ambient mode with Floydian guitar solo. Well, it's not totally Floydian, I would say, it can be said "distorted" Floydian because the guitar sounds used are not clean as typical Pink Floyd track. But this track is truly excellent. The vocal line enters in a unique characteristic in low tone. Guitar accompanies the vocal, brings in bluesy style. The first time I listened to this track I thought that the music would change abruptly with the work of drums and bass - that's typical Mars Volta track, isn't it? But I was wrong! This track has nothing to do at all with drums - even cymbals or high hats. But it's really a stunning track!

"Tetragrammaton" (16:41) enters seamlessly just after first track is finished. The music sounds with each instruments like aiming into different directions but all of them creat good harmony. The combined work of vocal and guitar fills is good. To my ears and my mind, the music flows smoothly in medium tempo with excellent guitar work. Entering the minute 5, this song changes into different style but is not dramatically as it still has strong ties with earlier part. AT the end of minute 6 the song enters mellower part with no drumming. It suddenly changes into upbeat tempo and higher tone with different style. The music flows with unique rhythm, dynamic bass lines, falsetto guitar fills and weird (but unique) vocal line. This song structure and various styles might be unusual for many people. To me the band is truly explorative in nature. They dare to challenge the status quo in songwriting, I think.

"Vermicide" (4:15) is a medium tempo track with a style that is very unique. The harmony created between guitar fills and vocal melody line is good. The music sometimes changes abruptly. The melody changes dramatically in the middle of the track with vocal line somewhat tones down. The vocal moves up at the end of the track.

"Meccamputechture" (11:02) starts beautifully with punctuated vocal line and guitar distortion. This might be the track that the band has planned to be the most complex, the most distorted and the most explorative in nature compared to others. It has everything that The Mars Volta's sound is all about. It has all abrupt changes, brutal saxophone solo, distorted guitar sounds and tiny vocal line. It's probably the track where most people who love nice and well structured composition would runaway from listening to this album completely. I myself would not dare to play this track in public - especially with those who only like "generic" music. But, let me tell you honestly, try to digest this track "as-is" (not as what you expect "should be"), accept whatever notes, scales, chords or melody line this track offers. It's a bit disjointed at first listen as you might be confused with the direction of this track. But I think at third or fourth spin you might be able to "connect the dots" and feel how excellent this song is. But, don't force yourself if you have listened to it for five times and it does not click you at all. Forget it, just sell this CD to secondary market - I believe one of my friends would purchase it. For me personally, this track offers good exploration of music that I never (or rarely) heard before. But I don't consider this as weird track, event an excellent one.

"Asilos Magdalena" (6:34) brings the music into an acoustic mode (guitar) combined with keyboard sounds / effects. When vocal enters, it's basically an excellent stream of acoustic guitar which accompanies melodic singing style with Latin nuance. The acoustic guitar work is really stunning for my ears. Overall, this track is quite accessible for wider audience - it's the most digestive song from this album. But, if you only listen to this track, you got the wrong picture on TMV music style. The ending part comprises electric guitar solo which might cause some people hate it.

"Viscera Eyes" (9:23) opens with short sound effects followed with upbeat music that reminds me to King Crimson - just before the vocal enters. Oh man . I really enjoy when the vocal enters with first lyrical phrases .. I love it. Its melody is very good, its singing style is unique. The accompanying music is quite strange, unusual I would say. But I cannot deny that they all produce nice harmony. The guitar solo is really excellent, augmented with a balanced sound effects from keyboard. This track is as complex as "Meccamputechture". The music suddenly changes at approx minute 5:55 through the work of bass guitar, followed with excellent guitar solo.

"Day of the Baphomets" (11:56) opens with a bit of Latin beats as ground but it actually demonstrates excellent bass guitar work in which bass serves as melody. It's a cool opening, I tell you. What follows is a complex arrangement that reminds me to "Island" album of King Crimson. I have to admit the virtuosity of the bad in crafting a music which I think quite original and explorative in nature. I'm really entertained with this album Hello? This is already track 7 out of 8 tracks - so if until now I enjoy it, that means I do enjoy the whole album! "El Ciervo Vulnerado" (8:50) concludes the album with similar vein like opening track "Vicarious Atonement".

Conclusion

My overall conclusion might be biased towards the kind of albums that surrounds me by the time I write this review (see "A Bit of Background" above). I'm saying this because I'm sure that this kind of music by TMV would definitely split prog audience into two: those who like it and those who don't and even hate it (and therefore they don't want to write any opinion about this album). But that's natural in prog music because nothing is truly straightforward and there is no true value of nearly everything, isn't it? As for my case, I highly recommend this album to those who sincerely want to be open mind, accept whatever presented by the musicians, willing to explore into different world, let the mind be guided with whatever arrangements and melody line the album offers and then make an opinion about it. If you have already had a preconceived mind about what prog music should sound like, forget about it. It wastes your time. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#97104)
Posted Saturday, November 04, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars The Mars Volta have always been a love it or hate it kind of thing, and if you love them, then this album should blow you away. A lot of music critics say it's their hardest record to get into, but I would be the first to disagree and say that it is the easiest to get into. Sure, you may not appreciate it at first, but after a few spins it should grow on you.

"Tetragrammaton" is one of the biggest highlights here. It's nearly 17 minutes of absolute Mars Volta bliss. It sums up the band as a whole and makes a huge statement about their ambitions. It really shows you what they're all about and lets you know where they stand with themselves. If you do not love this song, you don't like The Mars Volta. It must be heard to be believed. "Vermicide" is a very single-worthy release with an inanely catchy chorus. The whole album is, like their previous effort, very latin influenced, and the Spanish/English combination of lyrics still remains, but not to an as large extent as "Frances The Mute". "Meccamputechture" is their jazziest song yet, which uses a lot of saxophones and has a running beat with every other instrument flowing around it. It's a technique which is used a lot on this album and it could very well change the way you think about music. "Viscera Eyes" is probably the catchiest rock song in recent years and is one which you simply must hear. The version on the album is extended and has a very samba style ending.

This brief runthrough simply isn't enough to sum this album up, and even if I went into a lot of detail it still wouldn't give you an insight into this band. You simply must hear this album, and if you don't like it, that's fair enough, but nobody can deny the sheer intensity and musicianship of this band.

If you appreciate this kind of music, you will adore it.

One of the best albums I have ever heard, and certainly the best Mars Volta release as of yet.

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Send comments to ProgStage (BETA) | Report this review (#97267)
Posted Sunday, November 05, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars In a nutshell, this album has 4 ok songs, and four brilliant songs. The first half of the album comes across like they were listening to a lot of Zappa and tried to put some Zappa into their mix of Ambient/Floyd/free-jazz. While one would think this would end up being great, it does not work out as such. the songs seem to drag on, and become, dare I say, boring. I would have expected much more from them. Though, one should still note, the musicianship and production is superb on this. The second half of this album brings back the Volta that I've come to know and love. Frantic, obsessive, paranoid, technical, and all-over the place, the later part of the album is something to be in awe of. It's just something that simply freaks you out with it's beauty.

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Send comments to asuma (BETA) | Report this review (#97953)
Posted Friday, November 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
1 stars This is currently the number one ranked album of 2006 in progarchives, and i think this is not really good music in fact this is retro-progressive music and it´s a fact they just got lost in their own pretentiousness. I moderately enjoyed " De-loused in the Comatorium"and even "Frances The Mute"' but this album is extremely bad. One of the main problems with this album is the vocals and Cedric exaggerate his irritating tone and the lack of coherence in the compositon of the songs. A really step backward for The Mars Volta!

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Send comments to LothianHeart (BETA) | Report this review (#103546)
Posted Monday, December 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
TRoTZ
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars It's pitty that the band sometimes gets loss in their pretension, exaggerating to much when the listener got the picture several minutes ago. If they did not had to push always music to fill up the capacity of the cd, perhaps the album would sound more cohesive and some excesses would be evitable. That is applicable to the longer songs, particularly the first two ones. The album is, in general, more accessible than the previous one. If the band abandoned part of its punk aproach in "Frances the Mute", in this album they abandon most of their latin too.

The opener "Vicarious Atonement" introduces to the album in a somewhat Mars-Volta-vision- of-Pink-Floyd-feeling, in a thrilling way. "Tetragrammation" condensates most of the bands new ideas, well actually long driven bizarre guitar riffs a la Frank Zappa or modern King Crimson, some strange voice effects and that's all. Most of the rest of the album does not bring much of new, "Vermicide" is the "Widow" of the album, but not as strong. In "Meccamputechture" an inspired distorted bizarre bass line dominates most of the track, in the middle of the jazzy energetic overture and ending but clearly exceeds in time. The beautiful intimist accoustic ballad "Asilos Magdalena" is the only latin remain on the album. "Viscera Eyes" is a more straight-written track, once more bass driven, very energetic as well as the unsteady "Day of the Baphomets", an amalgam of saxophones, tribal sound rythms, spacey psychadelic background sounds, psichadelic guitar, guitar jam explosions and refrains a la Red Hot Chili Peppers. Perhaps the best of the album and the one, within its essency, resembles more the sound of their last album.

Perhaps their weakest album, but still, does not disappoint. One year does not give normally the enough time to great improvements or great maturity development, but the band proves once again to have a respectfull compositional sector. 3,5 stars.

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Send comments to TRoTZ (BETA) | Report this review (#104698)
Posted Wednesday, December 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars It really grabbed a hold of me on first listen but these songs, although progressive and farily "new" in approach, didnt hold up to the next couple of listens. Nevertheless, it is better then FTM and any fan would enjoy this very much. For Instance - The intro to Tetragrammatation is awesome! That is the standout track, an awesome epic. Days of the Bathomets has a good riff. Lots of really good noise and production throughout... Definatly a good album but seemed a 5 star on first listen which disinegrated to a 4. Mars Volta fan? GET IT! Prog fan? Umm if you feel like it...

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Send comments to endlessepic (BETA) | Report this review (#104704)
Posted Wednesday, December 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
fuxi
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This is probably the most truly 'progressive' rock album released in 2006. It may have been released on a mainstream label, and even non-proggers may have heard of this band, but that doesn't change a thing. In contrast to 'nice' symphonic prog bands like the Flower Kings or Spock's Beard, the Mars Volta take genuine risks and really try to blow the listener's mind. Their music is complex, hectic and often wildly exciting. Calling it 'commercial modern prog' just doesn't make sense. It's no more commercial than A PASSION PLAY or TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS.

Unfortunately, that's not AMPUTECHTURE's only resemblance to those notorious mid- seventies beasts. For what exactly is the concept behind this album? What do all the disjointed images mean? Cedric, the band's lyricist, belongs to the "I wants to make your flesh creep" camp of writing. His lyrics about 'sepulchers' (which he bizarrely pronounces as 'sePULchers'), 'holding up your entrails' and such, sound rather sophomoric. They do not fill this listener with horror; they merely annoy. And don't get me started on Cedric's shrieking. His high-pitched vocals were (just) bearable when he got to sing recognisable melodies (as on DELOUSED or FRANCIS THE MUTE, both of which I enjoyed), but with this album he seems to have tipped over the edge.

Nevertheless, AMPUTECHTURE is worth a listen, simply because of the visionary quality of the band's playing. Sax, lead guitar, organ, bass and drums all deserve praise, and ensemble playing is impeccable. Would it be too much to ask for an instrumental album next?

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Send comments to fuxi (BETA) | Report this review (#104829)
Posted Friday, December 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
4 stars Third album from this group that seems to confirm its status as one of the rare original prog artistes from the new millennium, Amputechture builds from DLITC and FTM. Graced with a rather doubtful artwork, this "little baby" becomes a huge oeuvre with repeated listening and everything I thought of after their very promising debut, but not entirely delivered with the only half successful FTM, is now coming to fruition. Still that tiny but meaningful link with RHCP (John Frusciante this time, instead of Flea or Chad) and that unmistakable psych rock (yummy!!) influence present, the group soars to new heights.

Right from the jaw-dropping opening Vicarious Atonement (Tool's excellent latest album also starts with a track named this way) and onto the cornerstone almost 17-min Tetragrammaton, this album sizzles, dizzies, dazzles but does not fizzle out. Generally this old dog is not easily converted to arrogant young puppies, but in this case, the arrogance is rather well deserved. The best thing with TMV is that you know almost instantly you're on a TMV album, and there is no mistaking/confusing like most of their modern peers usually do with the ancient gods. And the mind-boggling goes on with Vermicide and the title track, both just as stupendous as the earlier ones. And clearly the group is gaining more maturity with each new album as not only is the songwriting is

The one thing is that the album does run out of steam at the end, with the Latino-tinged El Ciervo, but it seems I am not really receptive to this facet of the group (even if I love Asilos Magdalena) as I had the same feeling on the previous albums. Outside these few imperfections, TMV is confirming their place alone at the top of the prog mountain range, with their closer cousins only resembling foothills. Can you believe this old geezer chose this album to end the year and open the new one? Don't get your hopes up too high though, I miscalculated its length. Yup I did not think I could fool you that much. TMV's best so far.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#105249)
Posted Tuesday, January 02, 2007 | Review Permalink
hdfisch
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Unlike the Frances album this one appealed much more to me right from the very first listen and after a second spin I was thinking: Wow, that's it - now they learned from their mistakes done before and finally released a real perfect one without any disturbing lengthy sound experiments. The only hurdle for perfect enjoyment (at least for me) still left is actually the falsetto voice of Cedric Bixler which is some kind of acquired taste though something one can get used to after a couple of spins. On the other hand as much as I'd wish they'd have a different singer I accept the fact as it is and consider it as an inseparable element of their very own characteristic sound. Before I started to listen to that album my expectations at least in terms of my own pleasure (not in terms of the quality of this album) were set to a rather low level. But what should I say - what a nice positive surprise for me when I realized after continued repeats that I actually enjoy to listen to this one. And I should mention as well, that initially after I've discovered this band one or two years before it wasn't that easy for a 45-year old stubborn lad like me to appreciate this young band but finally after three albums it has worked out. In the beginning I was all the time wondering what's so special about them that they're not only hyped by youngsters (supposedly because they're provocative, furious and weird) but also critically acclaimed by more matured people. However after dealing with their music and its content a bit more detailed I had to admit that they're not just another bunch of crazy freaks unsatisfied with everything and shouting out their hatred into this world. Whether one likes or dislikes their music is left to individual preferred taste but it's hard to find any rational reasons for denying that they're very talented and innovative musicians doing something that is definitely original, highly interesting and even breathtaking at times. I think it's time to speak a bit about the actual music on this album here. Well apart from the redundant fillers on "Frances The Mute" their style which could be described as modern jazz-tinged heavy psychedelic rock stayed basically the same. Nevertheless this album is much more coherent than the previous one which was very good as well already, just not enjoyable as a whole for me. I'll describe briefly each individual song including a few worthy notes about the song titles which are anything else than meaningless and very typically for TMV a combination of English/Spanish vocabulary, mythological/religious terms and their own word creations.

Vicarious Atonement:

("In Christian thought, atonement is humanity's reconciliation with God through the sacrifice of Jesus' death. Human sin is thought to damage the relationship between people and God, but Jesus' death enables humanity to "get right" with God.") First song is a very spacey and atmospheric one with nice guitar and synths effects. A really a great opener.

Tetragrammaton:

The title is obviously a term taken from the sci-fi movie "Equilibrium" that stands for an institution which suppresses human emotion by all means in order to eliminate violence. This is an extended epic one with 16+ minutes and multiple parts alternating between more up-tempo ones showing excellent guitar riffing, sometimes more atmospheric ones and jazzy, rather weird ones with fiery drumming and the well-known insane vocals of Cedric Bixler. Certainly the most difficult and longest track here and one of the highlights of the album. The only downer might be the sometimes the transitions between the different parts could be a bit smoother.

Vermicide (substance for killing worms) is actually one of my favs here with nice spacey guitar work with just the right dose of effects used. Even Cedric's vocals are sounding here quite enjoyable I've to say.

Meccamputechture (an ingenious and meaningful word creation implying many possible interpretations like i.e. Mecca has been built up from body parts ???): Another long one with 11 minutes, at times rather heavy and weird but as well an outstanding track here with awesome sax and drumming.

Asilos Magdalena (asylums for Mary Magdalene) starts with acoustic guitar combined with psychedelic sound effects. Here Cedric's singing in Spanish language as the title implies already. A very nice and quiet one.

Viscera Eyes (Inner eyes?) has Spanish lyrics as well (at least in the beginning) and is a very up-tempo track with great sax playing once again. Jazz-flavoured alternative rock?

Day of the Baphomets (name for a tin god worshipped by members of the Templar fraternity) is another one with more than 10 min. of runtime, very versatile and quite up-speed. Nice solo on bongos here!

El Ciervo Vulnerado (The wounded deer) is an extremely spacey one with lots of sound effects, sitar and sax.

With their third studio album the band might have come to an admittedly a bit less original and uninventive sound. Nevertheless they gained a lot of maturity and accessibility by omitting too many ambient experiments. Actually there's not one really weak track to be found on here. "Amputechture" is certainly a release by a promising young band worth to be checked out even by "stubborn" old progsters (like me). ***1/2 REALLY!!

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Send comments to hdfisch (BETA) | Report this review (#105267)
Posted Tuesday, January 02, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars I have a problem with this album. I discovered TMV a year before through Frances the Mute. Next day I bought Deloused. Since then I highly appreciate this band. I can't say that it is one of my favorites but they tend to be. But this album confused me.

In the beginning I thought that this is one of 2006 disapointments. I don't know, maybe then I was not in the right mood to listen to their music. But I never beileved that they took this album so loosely. After a few spins and a more close look to the lyrics I must admit I was very wrong.

I believe that in this record the band concentrates at the lyrics. Dark, melancholic, negative and mordacious. I think that the main issue is loss and they describe it in a religious way. The main idea is not something new but the way to present it is innovative. Brilliant work.

As for the music, well, their unique style is here. It sounds very 70's as always but it lacks the punk references of Deloused and the avant-garde sounds of Frances. There is nothing mainstream about them, they have psychedelic elements and interesting distortions to their instruments. The result is very solid and every song has its flavor. And the latin parts beautify the sound.

I still have problems with the verdict. It is more progressive than many bands here but it is not so as Frances the Mute (if I could review Frances, I would give it 5 stars, but I don't feel ready to do it). Anything less than 4 stars will be unfair. But 5 stars I don't know, not after the previous works. I believe that if I was to rewrote this after a few seconds this would be so different. But it always tends to ascend. 4,5 stars from me.

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Send comments to Sophocles (BETA) | Report this review (#107690)
Posted Wednesday, January 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Third work of the North American band in which they practically expose a work without no newness all the opposite we do not see the fact in "Frances The Mute" in which they are exposed very at levels or defined and clear as far as the surroundings and development of atmospheres, in this case we see an interpreted disc of decent way with moments which they border on the exaggerated thing to want to do something in appearance something extremely complex or to give the appearance of that, thing that does not happen with its previous work, the things that in truth it appreciates is again the great production and management in the recording, conserve spirit KING CRIMSON and YES, without a doubt very influential part of the musicians, with the touch that they give him of PUNK, without a doubt is a disc of strong sounds and very smooth I have inclusively I like more of this disc that part the smoothness that is enough but part of is work, would not consider it as something indispensable is good but not as much.

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Send comments to Shelket (BETA) | Report this review (#111585)
Posted Saturday, February 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
Neu!mann
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars As a kid I used to think GENTLE GIANT (or maybe HENRY COW, or maybe KING CRIMSON at their "FraKctured" mid-'70s zenith) played the most complex music ever to be pigeonholed as rock 'n' roll. But my late exposure to THE MARS VOLTA has forced me to raise that particular bar a notch or two.

If you take the same degree of difficulty, translate it to what sounds like an urban American setting, update the technology to 21st century standards, and add whatever drugs weren't available in the 1970s, the end result might sound a lot like The Mars Volta. Simply put, this is dangerous music: Progressive Rock with its velvet symphonic gloves off, and completely shorn of any residual innocence from Prog's golden age.

Converts will already know what to expect from the band's latest and arguably most accomplished album to date: an aural assault of Latino-tinged psychedelic metal, with a rich, busy blend of hyperactive English/Spanish lyrics and (in my own purely subjective knee-jerk reading) what almost sounds like a somewhat disturbing medical cyber-porn subtext. It's enough to scare away the more refined Progheads among us, but newcomers not yet conditioned to the group's unique ethos ought to at least give them a sporting chance: open your ears, and maybe your mind will follow.

There probably isn't much else to say about the album after more than 100 reviews so far (and counting), except to note that it isn't designed to work very well in smaller doses. But at the same time it also demands a lot of attention when played at length, and may sound a little uneven, if not downright chaotic, at first exposure. This is a band (and more power to them) unable to present even a simple interlude for solo acoustic guitar (as in the flamenco-flavored "Asilos Magdalena") without adding a token measure of techno-gimcrack embellishment.

But maybe the best thing to be said about the album (and the same applies to everything I've heard from the band) is that it won't wear out its welcome anytime soon: expect plenty of replays before it even starts to grow stale or familiar. Can the group continue to maintain the same high level of dizzy creativity for much longer? No one can answer that, but in the meantime The Mars Volta ought to be enjoyed for what they are: a welcome dose of shock therapy in a largely complacent musical culture.

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Send comments to Neu!mann (BETA) | Report this review (#117341)
Posted Wednesday, April 04, 2007 | Review Permalink
laplace
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Following the success and artistic freedom of "Frances the Mute", the Mars Volta take a direction that greatly disappoints this reviewer.

On "Amputechture" the extensive jamming - think "Cassandra Gemini" - has been greatly cut back, along with the noise that helped bridge between compositions. This is perhaps a wise move if they want to appeal to the pure prog audience but frustrates because of what is left behind; a lot of songs here suffer from the inability to gel, and instead of the smooth transitions we would have been treated to on "Frances" we get sudden jumps from passage to passage. It's still a wild ride, but this reviewer far prefers being lost in the Mars Volta's fog to this transparency.

The psyched-out latin touches are back in abundance and represent some of the most luscious moments on "Amputechture", and these tracks ARE hazy and fluid, so no complaints about those. "Tetragrammaton" is the first extended track and starts promisingly with a rather unnatural chord sequence which keeps you on your toes - that's great fun but it heightens the disappointment when the song settles into the A and B verses, because they're TOO catchy! Elements of progressiveness are high in this track, in a neo- way, but the vocal lines are too sugary for this reviewer, who prefers that artistic rock distances itself from pop music; some songs on "Amputechture" embrace it in the same way we have come to embrace the "skip track" button.

"Vermicide" would fit comfortably on the final At the Drive-In album - it's short and echoey with a fairly simple structure, a perfect playground for Cedric's increasingly stringy voice. "Meccamputechture" is "Tetragrammaton" part two - not in theme but in musical progression - and doesn't even offer up a striking introduction before it starts being seductive and groovy. Again, not what we need to hear from an ambitious band. "Viscera Eyes" is the same way, but perhaps forgivable as it serves as a single.

"Day of the Baphomets" gets its own paragraph as it's the reason to listen to "Amputechture". A long freak-out on sax and electric piano leads into a ATDI-style vocal line that hops along the first percussive groove on this album that entertains without being too marketable. Yes, the chorus is quite infectious but has an apocalyptic quality to it that makes it a delight to hear, and once you've forgiven that, the song heads into another spacy duel between sax and Omar's signature squawking guitar tone. More than anything else here, this is the song that will placate the long-term fans.

Two stars because of this reviewer's misgivings and the feeling that a sizable portion of the Mars Volta's audience has been sidelined or woefully misjudged, but these are still solid songs - just very catchy and grating on the nerves. If this had been an EP composed of the four best tracks in evidence it would have earned five stars without breaking a sweat.

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Send comments to laplace (BETA) | Report this review (#117622)
Posted Sunday, April 08, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars A totally wild and crazy rollercoaster ride through extremes of music - this one is definitely music for those into adrenhalin sports like base-jumping etc...

For me, this was just too complicated and confusing to be better than their first 2 albums - which are both 5 star masterpieces in my mind.

Three tracks take to the extremes of this crazy ride - are you scared??? - jump right into this - it really is totally different!! The 3 are Tetragrammaton (I think the last 6 minutes of this super-length track are even too complex for me to understand (don't get me wrong - I'm a massive Mars Volta fan), Meccamputechture (for me the best on the album), and Day of the Baphomets (wild crazy and crazy and wild!). Viscera Eyes is also a superb track.

As for the other 4 tracks - they are less good and less wild, and probably not so necessary - they drag this down from 5 to 4 stars for me. Maybe it's all in the name of experimentation?

Highly recommended - where prog meets punk rock, but if you are new to the Volta, start with one of their first two albums. recommended if you want your ears cleaned out!

Remember - Ummagumma was Pink Floyd's 3rd album, and what the heck was that about?? - but 3 albums later we had Dark Side of the Moon. If rock experimentalism leads to that, then I can't wait for the Mars Volta's 6th album (in 6 years time??)

I still think Frances the Mute is by far the best of their offerings.

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Send comments to PinkPangolin (BETA) | Report this review (#120686)
Posted Thursday, May 03, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Ok, if we look at this album on its own, it is five-stars work, but first two albums of this band put this one little bit behind. I suppose it was hard to make an attractive album, after those two masterpieces. But, The Mars Volta managed, somehow, to do it. First track, Vicarius Atonement is amazing song, with nice texturizing guitars, beautiful vocals, nice brass. Second one is very long track and it somehow stays disconnected, although interesting, and guitars are experimental, they follow voice so brilliantly, and druming is bombastic. Two guitars are excellent here, but song is not the best one, as guitars start to scream at the end (but they are experimental band, right?) Vermicide is, somehow radio-friendly, but an excellent track. One of the best they ever made! It has interesting effects made on voice and drumms are cute for the first time in album. There is emotional and effective (call it beautifull) guitar solo here. Melody is killing one. Meccamputechture is awesome. This track is such an energy, in classical The Mars Volta style, and it ends with beautiful horns riff. Structure of this music reminds me so much on Van Der Graaf Generator, although, the Mars Volta are so warm in sound, and keyboards here are more cute than those organs in VDGG. Viscera Eyes is the best one in here, starts with some processed drums in background and than with some good metal-like riff, and it is in spanish and english. Asilos Magdalena is nice accoustic song with sonic experiments in its end, totally in spanish. Day of baphomets starts with fantastic bass line and than bursts in semi chaotic state of happy guitars and horns and percussions, it has cool percussion solo, but in some moments it can get a bit boring as singer does vocals continuosly, and totally linear. El Ciervo Vulnerado is narcotic , ambient track, but it does not offer much. All in all, very good album, it needs some time to be fully apreciated, guitars are great here, what is not so good is that structure of songs can go boring, and not so mellodic. Still their style is interesting and they deserve to be labelled as foreruners in conterporary progressive rock.

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Send comments to nisandzic (BETA) | Report this review (#127257)
Posted Sunday, July 01, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars the last album by this band..i think that this or maybe frances the mute are the better ones of this band.. but this is a an amazing album...with long tracks..the voice of cedric sounds more louder on thid album..and the compositions of the songs are more progressive...touching by a little of blues..wherever this band is one of the most espectacular bands at the moment.. the sound very diferent to anothers bands..the parts of saxophone and the violins are very good on this album..their are incorporated very well..and make this album more complete..the lyrics and the vocals on spanish lenguage sounds great.. like in the song asilos magdalena...the whole album is perfect...you have to check it out..this band has a good way on their future if they create more albums like this..not iqual..but with the same creativity...

Keep on the good work...

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Send comments to JgX 5 (BETA) | Report this review (#127433)
Posted Tuesday, July 03, 2007 | Review Permalink
russellk
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Fascinating, this. Not a single 5-star review from the official 'prog reviewers' and not much else but 5-star reviews from the rest of us. THE MARS VOLTA really does have the power to divide - and it appears this album was a disappointment to most.

This is the easiest of their three albums to get into. The opening and closing tracks, and the middle track ('Asilos Magdalena') are gentle, though not in the class of 'Miranda' or 'Televators' from previous albums. The real action takes place in the five-barrelled assault of the remaining tracks, which are much more straightforward than some of their previous offerings.

We are given a gentle, almost lyrical introduction, with 'Vicarious Atonement' (the unifying theme here is a critical appraisal of religion) winding up slowly until, at 4:50, chord changes and a swirling organ suggest the song is about to launch ... but instead it detumefies, with BIXLER-ZAVALA crooning 'Don't let these hands/sharpen your eyes.' Then the drums blast us into 'Tetragrammaton', which is remniscent of 'Cicatriz' with its powerful riff and psychedelic breakdowns. I find this track clumsy and overlong, and it signals a sparser THE MARS VOLTA: this album doesn't pack in a million musical ideas per square inch. Maybe just a couple of hundred thousand.

The casual listener will enjoy the hook-laden 'Vermicide': with slower pace, it's oh-so-typical staccato chorus, GILMOUR-esque solo and it's manageable length, it's a good anchor after the too-long 'Tetragrammaton'.

And then the album explodes in an orgy of sound, as 'Meccamputechture' bursts into life with a searing spoken delivery and the most outrageous honking horn hook. This, now THIS, is the real stuff. This track struts, it pounds, it swirls, it intoxicates. Nothing else in the world of rock sounds remotely like this: rhythm against rhythm, swirling guitars, rumbling distorted bass, crystalline vocals. I'll own up and say this song is my favourite THE MARS VOLTA track. The repeated chorus 'Please dismantle' ... to 'Everyone stabs', with its building excitement and kaleidoscopic hammond-like organ - this is IKEY OWENS' track as much as anyone's - lifts the song into the stratosphere every time it appears. 'Humans as ornaments, humans as ornaments ...' As powerful a critique of organised religion as I've come across - and this from a former pastor. The change of beat after the second chorus heralds a fabulous battle between horn and guitar, ended by the crescending drums. The bass continues to rumble magnificently. Just how did they think of that sound? And what FRUSCIANTE does with his wah-wah guitar in the third (doubled) chorus is sensational. This track is already a winner, worth the price of the album and more, but the finish is just genius, with a full-on psychedelic freakout (is there nothing they can't do?) leading to a restatement of the honking opening theme with the best keyboards I'm ever likely to hear, a LED ZEPPELIN-like duel between OWENS' organ and BIXLER-ZAVALA'S voice. Flat out the best song I've heard since 1975. When I saw them do this live earlier this year I almost ... well.

Whew. 'Asilos Magdalena' separates the five power tracks, a gentle Spanish vocal and guitar which gradually morphs into a shockingly sinister piece, its electronic distortion heralding the arrival of the giant riff of 'Viscera Eyes', the album's single. Again, like 'Tetragrammaton', I can't help feeling the ideas here are drawn out a little further than in previous albums. Great horns, but that riff outstays its welcome. When the song changes shape after six minutes it comes as a relief: when have I ever thought that of a THE MARS VOLTA track before? Accessible, but ultimately dispensable. I liked them better when they underused their ideas, when a riff or chorus disappeared before I got used to it, when I had to play the album again and again ... A great FRUSCIANTE guitar solo closes this song out - come on JOHN, you're wasted in the CHILI PEPPERS, join this band full time, you know you want to. Bring FLEA with you.

'Day Of The Baphomets' rescues the second half of the album. Beginning with a wonderful bass riff that raises the hackles on your neck, this track reminds us of the creativity these fellows have in spades. Listening to this is like cavorting with demons (literally, given the title). Were I still in the church I'd be sprinkling holy water all over this, so rich and redolent of the occult is the imagery of this song. 'El Ciervo Vulnerado' bears us gently down (or, more likely, up) to mortal lands, and the experience is over.

Not as powerful as the first two THE MARS VOLTA albums, 'Amputechture' still packs more energy and power in its grooves than anything else released in 2006. It is a five-star album to me, but a merely mortal effort, rather than the superhuman albums of their early career. I'm torn: 'Meccaputechture' and 'Day Of The Baphomets' are essential listening. Ah, it's only a number. If I only give it four stars the ground isn't going to open up and swallow *argh*

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Send comments to russellk (BETA) | Report this review (#137706)
Posted Tuesday, September 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars A mature and precise shift in emphasis shows that Mars Volta is hardly through with growing... or progressing as musicians for that matter. "Amputechture" is by far the classiest album the band has released. It is wholly coherent, densely layered with a fine mix of melody and effects, and features mature songs with a strong sense of direction and purpose. There are few, if any, real sections of mad-capped improvisation, and the whole effect is that of a sweeping composition overflowing with fantastic instrumental and vocal work. Lyrically heavy, "Amputecture" shows Mars Volta in a very focused light, and does not disappoint.

From the delicate buildup of the first song to the rhythmic intensity of songs like "Tetragammatron" and (the delightfully named) "Day of the Baphomets", this album has more variety in tone and mood than any of their previous works, and while I admit that it lacks as many WOW moments, I always-- always finish it once I've started it and never get bored. In fact, with every listen I discover something I hadn't noticed before, and am thoroughly convinced that it is one of the most creative albums to come out in a long time, and that Mars Volta should be praised for doing something original with the art form. There is nothing else like this out there.

Very highly recommended.

Songwriting: 5 Instrumental Performances: 5 Lyrics/Vocals: 5 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

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Send comments to Prog Leviathan (BETA) | Report this review (#140390)
Posted Monday, September 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars My first review!

I chose Amputechture for my first review because i´m truely addicted to it! To be honest i don´t know The Mars Volta members names (not all) and i don´t even care... neither do i know all the track´s names...not that much important to me, sorry! What i do know is that i´m a happy, complete, fulfilled person when i listen to any of TMV´s albuns, these guys are really brilliant!

TMV really takes progressive music one step ahead, very unlike Dream Theatre and all the new prog clones that only make technical advances and forget that music is supposed to have a Soul! (Sorry DT fans,not an offense,just an opinion)

Back to Amputechture: What can i say? It´s mindblowing! The mad and angry Sax solos are of a superior kind, jazzlike stuff, sometimes it reminds me of VDGG, i dare to say they´re even better! The Guitars...no words for it, Omar´s a genious! The Vocals are flawless, and the Drums...OH MY GOD...i dare some Drum n´Bass DJ´s to do better! The effects are very good too, everything´s perfect about this album! My favourite tracks are: Tetragrammaton and Day of the Baphomets... and all the rest too! lol

Even if you don´t like it at first you should give it a chance and listen to it a few more times, you´ll love it! This one is truely an essential, go ahead and buy it, you won´t regret it! 5 stars!

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Send comments to progLee (BETA) | Report this review (#151184)
Posted Friday, November 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Incredible music. The intro from the first song is memorable(not the same style but the same level as for Supertramp's Crime of the Century or Return to Forever - Return to forever).Such a song it may hunt you many days. One of the best efforts from the last years. It may be hard to get in but definitely will became one of your favorites if will give it a try. Really hard to mention a highlight because all the songs are at very high level. One thing is clear: the man behind the drums, Jon Theodore, knows what he is doing. The sax sounds like improvising which is really nice. Overall I would say that every decade has his own masters and for the '00 years this is definitely representative. The sound is distinct with a specific Latino odour. Of course the influences can be felt but this album has for sure a distinctive personality. Interesting combination and coherency having in mind that some of the songs were composed before the band started to work for this release. The cover it wasn't created for this album but represents a picture of Jeff Jordan which is an American surrealist painter. The picture is called Big Mutant. A really good album cover which can easily abides on somebody's mind.

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Send comments to petrica (BETA) | Report this review (#151212)
Posted Friday, November 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars The third Mars Volta LP Amputechture is another good album from this creative/unique art rock band. The album has way less ambiance than like Frances the Mute or Deloused. And sometimes this album kind of reminds me of Yes or King Crimson sometimes. The musicianship on this album though is one of a kind, i love the latin sounds they put in their music, it's good that they represent their culture in their music. Some great tracks on the album are Tetragrammaton,with fantastic drumming by Jon, Day of the Baphomets, which shows Juan's great bass playing. And Meccamputechture which displays some crazy vocals by Cedric. This album is more straight foreword than Delouse or Frances. The Mars Volta still kept their own sound intact on Amp, but like i said this album reminds me of some old 70's prog. I have been following the mars volta since the early days and they always know how to put out great albums. Deloused and Frances are better than this one but this is still an album not to miss. Check it out and get ready for the ride! 4 stars

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Send comments to JROCHA (BETA) | Report this review (#152316)
Posted Thursday, November 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
Raff
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The release of TMV's fourth studio album is drawing nearer and nearer, but I - a confirmed fan of the band - hadn't yet got round to reviewing their third studio offering - an album that, like the two before it, rarely leaves listeners totally indifferent. TMV are a band that can command passionate love and equally passionate hatred. Like a 21-century ELP, they are unabashedly self-indulgent, gloriously pretentious, utterly over-the-top in their perversely obscure lyrics, their intriguing, vaguely disturbing artwork, their highly eclectic approach to musical composition that shamelessly blends prog with other, often contrasting genres. Together with Porcupine Tree and a few other bands, they are considered the blueprint for modern prog - though, unlike Steven Wilson's crew, they have never felt the need to deny their allegiances. They are that odd creature - a band who have achieved mainstream success in spite of trying their best to be as inaccessible as they could. How can prog fans not love them?

All jokes aside, "Amputechture" is probably TMV's most mature album to date, even if to these ears it's not the blistering, ground-breaking masterpiece that "De-loused in the Comatorium" was. It contains all the trademark features of TMV's output, from the zany song titles to the heady mix of musical styles and textures. Though not a concept album, unlike its predecessors, it does come in a way full circle, at least in a musical sense. Indeed, opener "Vicarious Atonement" and closer "El Ciervo Vulnerado" share the same nature of slow-burning, intense, ambiance-laden songs, where Cedric Bixler-Zavala's distinctive vocals get a chance to shine, and prove to the prog world that he is much more than a post-hardcore screamer. Being a longtime fan of Rush's mighty Geddy Lee, I never had any trouble in getting into Cedric's vocal style. He can indeed be called Geddy's legitimate heir: an acquired taste to some, but a man who can surely sing.

All the album's tracks but one are over 6 minutes in length, with three of them exceeding 10 minutes, thus avoiding the overkill that was "Cassandra Geminni", with its 32-plus minutes filled with assorted noises. As a matter of fact, the noise quotient in "Amputechture" is kept to a bare minimum, while the melody quotient is definitely upped - not just in the two songs previously mentioned, but also in the unusual "Asilos Magdalena", where Cedric plaintively delivers his Satanic-tinged, Spanish lyrics to the accompaniment of an acoustic guitar, and in "Vermicide" (the shortest track, also released as a single), with its catchy chorus and spacey guitar lines.

The three longer tracks, "Tetragrammaton", "Meccamputechture" and "Day of the Baphomets", are less easily digestible and need to be listened carefully to be appreciated - TMV don't pander to those who need background music in their lives. If you wanted to be hypercritical, you could say that sometimes their 'epics' sound like sonic crazy quilts, made up of different pieces patched together without any apparent plan. However, the same could be said of some of the undisputed classic of Seventies prog ("A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers", anyone?). All the three tracks feature liberal use of horns, angular, sometimes positively dissonant riffs, complex, wildly veering rythms and slower, atmospheric breaks. Just like in their previous albums, strong jazz, psychedelic and Latin influences are quite noticeable, while the manic energy derived from the band's hardcore punk roots has been tempered and matured.

It can't be denied that TMV are not everyone's cup of tea, and hopefully they will never be. Challenging and in-your-face, they are probably the most authentically progressive of the new bands, bar none. While the naysayers will continue to have a field day every time a new album is released, those with an open mind will be waiting for new surprises from this abrasive, uncompromising, yet incredibly exciting band. Long may they reign.

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Send comments to Raff (BETA) | Report this review (#152788)
Posted Monday, November 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Amputechture combines experimentality with good, solid composing and incredible performances. It can come across as bleak, strange, uncomfortable--but overall, it has it's own unique identity, and will pull you in after you familiarize yourself with it. The performances of this album pack an unusually high amount of energy. There is a good balance between hard to follow chaos and memorable hooks and melodies. Unilke Francis the Mute, there is much less boring ambient noodling--and when it exists, it doesn't last for 5 minutes or more. You can actually sit down and listen to this album as a whole, without ever feeling the temptation to skip to the next track. The instrumentation and compositions are more diverse and dense than Deloused. Most criticism is of the lyrics, however, I can't imagine anything more fitting than the surreal and strange lyrics. Anything attempting to be too coherent would just seem out of place. "The kiosk in my temporal lobe is shaped like Rosalyn Carter."

I've heard nothing in recent times quite like this. TMV is one of the premiere progressive acts out now--and this is there most mature and tasteful offering. This is challenging music, but well worth the reward. If you haven't been keeping up with modern trends in progressive music, this is probably the single best album to start with. Not a bad song or boring moment. Even the comedown at the end, with it's abrubt, amputated ending, seems fitting. It may not be supremely popular at present, but this album will stand the test of time and be talked about across genres for generations to come. 5 stars -- no question. I can't wait to...

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Send comments to jmcdaniel_ee (BETA) | Report this review (#152944)
Posted Tuesday, November 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I don't understand the dismisal of this album. This is definitely their best effort yet. I can only imagine those claiming to have given this album ampt listenings need to listen again. Like all great prog albums, those that move us most, we all know require the most work. This album is one of them. It takes aquiring, but once I aquired it, it moved me like no album has in quite sometime. Finally I feel progressive music might make a comeback. These guys, for me, are the trendsetters of that. I think some of us have given up on these new bands that seem to be hanging on trying to keep prog music alive, and god bless 'em, but although they may be great musicians they lack the originality and life that The Mars Volta have. It is about time. I think all their albums are great, but, Amputechture is their latest and greatest. I'm hoping the release of their next album, Bedlam In Goliath, has them going in the same direction. Of course stepping up even another notch, as they seem to do each album, reinventing themselves. Those of you who dismiss this album, I urge you to sit down, and maybe play it as background at first. You know while cleaning, reading, playing video games. It might be too much too take all at once if you conscience of listening to it. I only say this because one review claims it lacked melody, and I strongly disagree. There are many melodies that are worth finding. Revisited melodies, and improvisations on many already established melodies, within the same song. That's what gives a song it replay value. Thats what makes them a great prog band. Keep these guys alive. Support them. If not for you, for me. I think they're our only hope.

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Send comments to catdog12 (BETA) | Report this review (#160171)
Posted Tuesday, January 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Rating: C

The Mars Volta's third release, Amputechture, is rightfully polarizing. After all, about 2/3 of the CD is really good, among the best the Mars Volta has done, and the rest is boring tripe. I'll get the bad out of the way first so that I can focus on the good, since the good truly is, well, good. The bad consists of three songs: the opening Vicarious Atonement, the closing El Ciervo Vulnerado, and Asilos Magdelena. All three can be described with one word, dull. Vicarious Atonement sees The Mars Floyd trying to be Pink Volta, and, oh dear, I've gotten The Mars Volta and Pink Floyd mixed up. Not only is it boring, Vicarious Atonement is blazingly unoriginal, and is a terrible way to start the CD. Then you've got El Ciervo Vulnerado and Asilos Magdelena, both of which are boring (and way overlong) Spanish numbers that go nowhere and waste sixteen minutes of the listener's time (but hey, they bring the CD to seventy-six minutes in length!).

Thankfully, the rest of Amputechture reminds the listener why they've captured the hearts of prog fans in the first place. Tetragrammaton is a tremendous epic-length track that combines the energy The Mars Volta are known for with strong songwriting abilities. Sure, it gets a bit too chaotic at times (especially just before the end), and there's that section five minutes in where The Mars Volta are *still* trying to Pink Floyd, but beyond that it ranks among their best. Then you have Vermicide, the closest thing to an actual song on the CD, which combines spacey elements with soaring vocals, making for a powerful and also beautiful song.

Of the five stronger songs, Meccamputechture is the weakest, mostly because it's too repetitive. If it were narrowed down to eight or so minutes (and the terrible transition around six minutes in were strengthened), it would be much stronger. After all, it starts with invigorating energy that can't be ignored, and it's ideas are all excellent, even if they're repeated too much. The real highlights of the CD, though, are Viscera Eyes and Day of the Baphomets. The former is a tremendous hard-rocking song with catchy riffs and excellent vocals. As for the latter, it's the best thing The Mars Volta have done since Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt from De-loused. With elements of free jazz inserted into the already volatile prog-punk hybrid of The Mars Volta, the ensuing mixture positively explodes.

Above all, I have to congratulate The Mars Volta on refusing to sink into moments of pointless noise (except for the briefest moments on Tetragrammaton), as it makes their better moments all that much more enjoyable. If only they had stuck to what they do best, rather than what others have already done best, this could be their second best release. Unfortunately, the three terrible songs that mar Amputechture make this one of their weakest (above only The Bedlam in Goliath so far). If you make a copy without those three songs, however, you are left with an excellent CD that you'll return to time and time again, as I do.

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Send comments to Pnoom! (BETA) | Report this review (#162505)
Posted Saturday, February 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars As a recent fan of The Mars Volta, I've gone on a frenzy of picking up all four of their current studio albums.

I picked up Amputechture last, simply because I'd heard from many sources that it simply wasn't as good as the other three releases. While De-loused is an accesible classic, and Frances the Mute was a excellent display of crescendo and decrescendo, as well as Goliath in Bedlam being a nuclear explosion of sound, Amputechture is different. Is different bad? No, of course not, but it was rather off-putting for fans of De-Loused. As it stands, Amputechture is more a natural evolution of the spacey interludes invoked in Frances taken to a different level of sound.

It doesn't sound very much like others Mars Volta albums. In fact, it's radically different. Overall, the pace is very slow; the focus is not on catchy melodies or glimpses of a common theme, but an atmosphere of sound, a pastiche of various influences the group has drawn from. Offhand, I can't say I can remember which song is which, or what each song means, but I don't think it's neccesary; It actually would have been a great idea to make Amputechture one long, atmospheric track; the songs do flow together, and create a creepy, yet enjoyable wall of creativity from which to draw enjoyment.

It's definitely not a very accessible album, for sure, and that definitely accounts for the general dislike for this record by critics. However, this conception results from people expecting the Mars Volta to sound the same; this doesn't contain the bombastic, over-the-top energy of their other albums, and that isn't a bad thing. In fact, it gives them time to develop their music slowly, to draw the listener in. I'd say Cedric's vocals are the clearest out of all the albums, with the least amount of vocal distortion. His performance is understated, allowing the music itself to overwhelm the listener. The solos by Frusciante don't hurt, of course; Omar's guitar parts are just as progressive and crazed as we like them, but the guitars really stand out as a seperate element, rather than another brick in the wall. All the instruments can be picked out; again, the Mars Volta have slowed the pace of the music to give us a better glimpse into the construction of the eight pieces they have created. There's plenty of variety as well, and that really defines Amputechture; the unified sound of their other albums is seemingly dispensed with for a more disorganized approach to prog, one that I enjoy a great deal. This is probably the most progressive of their albums, abandoning conventional chorus and refrain structures for the most part and going ahead with whatever comes into their mind.

It's not a poor album at all, or even self-indulgent; it's just a difficult album to understand. I can't imagine why any prog fan would ignore this release however; it has much depth, for those looking for it (apparently, it is about the dangers of religion, but as a religious person myself, I didn't really catch on to it). The constant variety truly makes this an essential listen, but anyone expecting the catchy music of other Mars Volta releases should steer clear; there is still some of that here, but in very sparse segments.

It deserves a rating of 4 stars; it drags in spots, but overall it is a very solid release for a prog fan to jump into. Just don't expect another De-Loused or Bedlam.

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Send comments to Viewtifulzfo (BETA) | Report this review (#164890)
Posted Tuesday, March 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
sleeper
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars As we come to The Mars Volta's third album, the band is moving from being the new blood in progressive rock and into being the established leading lights of modern prog. Where Frances the Mute took the themes of De-Loused and vastly upped the amount of electronic trickery and experimentation, Amputechture goes the other way. Much of the electronic soundscapes are gone, replaced by instrumental soundscapes supplemented with complimentary samples and noise. The result is the kind of album I really was hopping the band to make, one that focuses their style onto their musicianship creating a powerful blast of heavy rock, but not without its subtleties. However, though this album is a big improvement over Frances the Mute, it still isn't perfect. In the two previous albums you could hear that the band were playing close to the edge of chaos, that if they strayed slightly they would have fallen into a complete atonal mess. On Amputechture the band has clearly taken a slight step back from that edge and played ever so slightly safer than before, most notably in the rhythm section, though the occasional breakout still happens. Secondly, the longer songs don't seem to flow anywhere near as well as previous epics from the band did, shifts in the music are bit clunkier. All in all, the result is a fine album that doesn't quite reach the heights that the band scaled on their debut.

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Send comments to sleeper (BETA) | Report this review (#165041)
Posted Wednesday, March 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
ProgBagel
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The Mars Volta - 'Amputechture' 3.8 stars

The Mars Volta's 'Tales from Topographic Oceans'.

This music by Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and lyrics by Cedrid Bixlar-Zavala create their most obscure one yet with this release. It took me about 5 spins to like it and after 20 spins to recognize one or two songs without looking to see which one is being played. I find this album to be the worst so far because I think this album was just released at a bad time. Omar's compositions are definitely his most complete and varied and the music in a whole is extremely complex. I tend to think this music is avant-garde at times. There is also more brass instrumentation included, not necessarily arranged, but part of that actual music itself.

Some problems with this album are the opener and closing songs 'Vicarious Atonement' and 'El Ciervo Vulnerado'. There are both similar in that it is just extremely slow and atmospheric. Not necessarily a bad thing but when they combine for a total of over 15 minutes it seriously annoys me. Like a hamburger, the meat and toppings are absolutely superb. The only exception is 'Asilos Magdalena' which is in my opinion the worst Mars Volta song so far. Just sounds like a representation of slow Spanish cultural music which I am not found of. 'Viscera Eyes' which was turned into a single from the album is a little too long to be that great in my opinion. Anyway, more of half this album contains excellent music. 'Vermicide' is the only piece that has any sort of structure to it and is one I consider the best. The three pieces that go above 10 minutes are all very good. 'Day of the Baphomets' is one of them that I still don't understand and the only song on the album that I cannot remember anything from after 20 listens. It is that much of a complex track that it is impossible to memorize, which I think is brilliant.

Really complex arrangements on this album that I doubt The Mars Volta will go beyond these borders. This is one of those albums that might get more popular as they put out more music and stick out like a sore thumb in their library. A 'Tales from Topographic Oceans' if you will.

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Send comments to ProgBagel (BETA) | Report this review (#170857)
Posted Tuesday, May 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars The Mars Volta - Amputechture

With this album, the Mars Volta developed from the awesomeness of the sonic and impenetrable Frances the Mute, into a much more "progressive" (if we're talking in relation to 70s prog at least), and jazzier band. This can be good and bad, depending on how you look at it. I personally do not prefer it, not because of the stylistic differences per se, but because the album is riddled with too many vocal effects, silly guitar tones and derivative solos, as well as unbalanced songs that are spliced up in order to fit the "concept" (which doesn't exist). I know it may sound like I hate this album, and I certainly do not, but compared to De-loused, Frances, and even Bedlam (which I am not the biggest fan of either) it falls short. It littered with more problems than pluses, at least in my opinion.

There are, in short, two great tracks on the album (still hindered by some shortcomings), two decent tracks, and then four "meh" tracks that just seem to get in the way of the other, more decent material. In short, this should of been an EP, but I don't think this band believes in album's under 70 minutes in length. But I'll get to it:

Now the music:

Well. There's "Vicarious Atonement", which really isn't half-bad at all. I enjoy the vocals on this track greatly, and while the guitar noodling is slightly annoying, the track as a whole has more good moments than bad ones, and also is pretty psychedelic at times, which is nice. Then there's "Tetragrammaton", which is, in my opinion, the best track on the album (tied with "Day of the Baphomets"). It opens up with some grizzly organized chaos, lets off to beauty, and climbs its way up several mountains before falling down--in a good way. This is the "jazzy", obnoxious TMV taken to the extreme, but done very well. This track feels organized, and layered, as opposed to many others which seem convoluted or overly repetitive.

Then there's a whole wall of mediocrity in "Vermicide", the worst Volta song to date, "Meccamputechture", which begins with a silly rap and then goes on for what feels like hours before finally puttering off. Still it's got some okay moments within--mostly involving saxophone. Then we get to "Asilos Magdalena" which is interesting for a short while, as the song proper is all acoustic with some nice Spanish vocals and guitar-work. It's decent, and would work well if it were put to better use--say, on a better album.

"Viscera Eyes" is a decent track for the most part, although the beginning section goes on for a bit too long and the solos are, once again, a bit static (almost every solo Omar shreds on this album feels like a regurgitation of the "Tetragrammaton" intro/outro riff played either faster or slower.). Still, it begins the album moving out of its mediocre middle hump. Then there's "Day of the Baphomets", which is worth the album alone. Seriously, had this been an EP (or LP) with the 4 good tracks (it still would've reached something like 45 minutes), it'd be great. "Baphomets" shines and is one of the greatest Volta songs yet in their catalogue.

The final track, "El Ciervo Vulnerado" is both good and bad, oddly. Sometimes I enjoy it (usually when listening singularly), other times I'm not such a fan (like when I've listened to the entire album only to arrive at this anti-climatic bummer). It's neat and original, though rather monotonous at times, and obviously unnecessary (as "Baphomets" would have been a great closer). Still, it's "eh".

So, as far as The Mars Volta's albums go: 1. Frances the Mute 2. De-loused 3. Bedlam (just slightly though) 4. Amputechture

It'll score something like a 5-6 for me, earning it what should be 3 stars on this site; however, judging by the descriptions offered, I think this album better fits the 2 star category: Collectors/Fans only. This one's not necessary for the casual or starting TMV fan, and is their most mediocre album to date.

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Send comments to Figglesnout (BETA) | Report this review (#170907)
Posted Tuesday, May 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Systemized Chaos

Masters of the frantically melodic and melodically frantic, The Mars Volta's third album, Amputechure is a slight departure from their previous works. While previous albums showed music that was not much different than noise, this one still approaches the tunes that same way but... safer. There's nothing in this album we haven't already heard from these guys, and while the songs are so viciously structured as they have previously, that ''safe'' feeling just keeps creeping in. Still heavy and still frantic, the band has changed a bit.

Starting with the Floyd-esque opener, Vicarious Atonement the band immediately decides that you don't get their head shattering noise fest for a good number of minutes. No complaints here, the song is quite the quiet trip which is very nice to hear from the boys. A rare moment of calm before the storm. As usual, there's a number of long songs on the album. Three here that overtake the 10-minute mark and one that comes close to 17. The 17-minute behemoth Tetragrammaton represents everything we've come to expect from the band. Noise melody hidden behind tones of instruments that bombard the listener with all they've got. Then we come into the first of the shorter tracks. It's really these where the band decided to take a different approach - more in kin with their At The Drive In days. Most noticable are the vocals in this track as the rest seems to ambiently sweep along. Hate to say it, but bring back that noise!!

Fortunately they do, Meccamputecture is another frantic song which is likely the standout of the album with it's 11-minute duration, lush melodies once again providing a very mind boggling experience. Day Of The Baphomets is much in the same. The other songs on the album are, again, shorter and, again, more typical in structure. The killer riff of Viscera Eyes starts off a nice rocker which is a great listen and Asilos Magdalena provides a very creepy track with the FXed vocals, once again the unfortunately most noticeable part about the song.

So while there's nothing wrong with this album as it's all quite good the band really failed to simply do what they've done all along by simply doing what they've done all along. 3 stars - good, but not quite as essential as their last 2 efforts. This one simply doesn't step out of the safe zone enough to really make a mark but it still manages to hit up some rocking tunes and some memorable moments. Fans shall be delighted, critics shall be unconvinced.

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Send comments to Queen By-Tor (BETA) | Report this review (#171303)
Posted Saturday, May 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The band might well claim that they are fed up with the Led Zep comparison (of which they should be very proud of) but as long as they will produce such a music, there is no wonder that such a comparison is taking place.

"Amputecture" is another kilometric album (just under eighty minutes of "music"). The lengthy album disease stroke back. Again.

One gets the usual mix between psychedelic wild imaginings ("Vicarious Atonment") which are pretty much useless and are nothing but fillers and some great but sub-par Led Zep influenced songs.

The best of "Amputecture" is by far the excellent "Tetragrammaton" which is a correct representation of their work in general. Disjointed and psychedelic parts, high-pitched and screaming vocals sections, combined with hardish and loose guitar breaks.

Even if I'm not a huge TMV fan, I can easily understand how comes all the hype about this (relatively) new band. My only worry being that this sort of music was already played almost forty years ago by who you should know by now.

One major difference still. And I have already mentioned this in a previous TMV review. They play in the studio like Led Zep on stage. Meaning overlong and extremely complex solo, instrumental parts. I have been bred with the fantastic call / response work from the giants and the ones I hear from TMV are just clones. But good ones, I admit.

Don't misunderstand. I like TMV. But only moderately. IMHHO, their best effort so far is their debut album which I rated with four stars. Frances was quite a deception, but I have to say that "Amputecture" does hold fine moments of which the absolute highlight is "Tetragrammaton".

"Vermicide" is a short jewel (in TMV standards) which displays some great and wild feeling. I quite like the band while they "shorten" some of their songs. When they don't feel obliged to extend their compositions exaggeratedly ("Meccamputechture"). If ever some of you might get irritated by Plant's voice, I'm afraid that you won't be able to bear Cedric's one. But it's not a problem for me.

One great feature of the band is of course their habit to produce some of their songs in Spanish. I am of course rather sensitive to this since half of my life is Mexican. When you listen to a song as "Asilos Magadelena" you can only be blown away. To go on with the Led Zep similarity you can compare this one with, let's say, "Going To California" or "That's The Way". Just to get you the picture.

The bilingual and funky "Viscera Eyes" was actually already written some time ago (in a pre-TMV line- up) but doesn't sound alien to this album. Just that this lengthy track doesn't move me at all if you would except a great and fully page oriented guitar solo. Did you say original???

"Day of the Baphomets" is probably the most chaotic track from this album. The disjointed sax inevitably brings me back to VDGG. But I'm not thrilled with this song. It goes into too many directions and I can't find any understandable storyboard in here. Pure wildness with little feeling. Not my cup of tea.

A good album which could have been better if you would exclude the opening track as well as the "Baphomets" stuff. The closing number is also limit. Another psyche trip as the opener. Was it to loop the loop? In this case they have succeeded in their concept. But I am not at all convinced with these highly "loaded" interpretations or sounds.

Three stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#172784)
Posted Sunday, June 01, 2008 | Review Permalink
MovingPictures07
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars The Mars Volta are certainly a band that can polarize regular music fans and the same applies to the world of prog. However, I think their absolute unique blend of music is one of the most important assets that prog has had to its disposal, particularly in the 2000s where most prog hitting into the mainstream is on the metal side.

1. Vicarious Atonement- Very soulful guitar and vocal emphasis on this entry song. The atmosphere produced by Omar's guitar and Cedric's incredible vocals is quite stunning and works as a good opener to this album. I love when towards the end the piano comes in as well and builds on the atmosphere, eventually descending into chaos. 9/10

2. Tetragrammaton- Brilliance. This has to be one of the best songs written in the past decade, and there really is ALOT going on in it. Omar must have quite a good knowledge of music theory, since this composition is incredibly complex and accomplished. The guitar is perfect throughout in every aspect, the song really is experimental, and the song works amazingly as a piece. It is the longest track on the album, but for me it doesn't feel that long. This is absolute perfection that truly explores new grounds for music. Flawless. 10+/10

3. Vermicide- Good song, but easily the worst on the album. A shorter interlude that is more straightforward in structure. Cedric's vocals are good, the instrumentation is decent, but I could have actually done without this song. Nonetheless, I never skip it. 7/10

4. Meccamputechture- Brilliance strikes again! This, along with Tetragrammaton, is the best part of the album. TMV pulls some punk influences here, but they really work. The structure is very experimental, Cedric's vocals are out of control and spot on, and everything still flows despite the unconventional musical structure. Singing to this song is also nearly as enjoyable as the song, which says quite a bit. EVERYONE STABS---ALL THE TIME! Flawless. 10+/10

5. Asilos Magdalena- Spanish guitar track that is experimental in structure. Very good vocals again from Cedric in an intriguing contrast from the previous song. The Spanish lyrics work quite well and the mood is sustained perfectly until eventually descending into a twist (as usual with TMV) towards the end with dissonance and vocal modifiers. Good song. The atmosphere again is very effective. 9/10

6. Viscera Eyes- Great rockier song from TMV here! Wonderful structure as always, the song is written very well, covers new ground, amazing instrumentation, memorable parts included with challenging, and it flows. This is one hell of a good song. 9/10

7. Day of the Baphomets- Further sonic assault! More of a rockier element to parts of this one much like the previous song, separated with parts that are noisier, experimental, and slower. However, the song covers new ground and nothing that was already said in the previous songs is said again. The guitar here is great, the opening extremely effective and powerful, and again the song feels like it is shorter than the actual length. My favorite parts are the guitar all throughout (of course) and the really cool experimental Latin-esque drums/percussion part accompanied with Cedric's falsetto vocals at the end. Awesome song. 10/10

8. El Ciervo Vulnerado- Very experimental, slower song here. Almost like a creepier version of the entry song, this is an intriguing way to end the album. I'm not sure if I would have ended the album this way, but it works. It's not really my favorite song and it doesn't hit me as well as some of the other absolute masterpiece songs on here, but it still is pretty good. The mood is distorted and creepy; Cedric's vocals combined with the very odd instrumentation work pretty well. 8/10

You definitely need an open mind for this album and be warned that it may never click for you, as this album and band have proven to be an acquired taste. However, that doesn't make this album any less of a masterpiece of progressive music, a title which it rightly deserves for its sheer brilliance in instrumentation, atmosphere, and experimentation.

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Send comments to MovingPictures07 (BETA) | Report this review (#188864)
Posted Tuesday, November 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars I know that many Mars Volta fans were disappointed with this album. While I do not think it is as great as Frances the Mute or De-loused, which I believe to be some of the best music I've ever heard, I still enjoy listening to this album. Vicarious Atonement is really trippy. The climax where Cedric says In the river Ganges God damns my name floors me every single time. Tetragrammaton is an interesting, though inconsistent track. I don't like the beginning too much, but I love the progression when Cedric starts to sing. I don't remember listening to Vermicide or Meccamputechture more than twice, but Asilos Magdalena is the eeriest acoustic song I've ever head. Next comes Viscera Eyes, which, except for one atonal figure that repeats a couple times too many, is an exceptional track. The guitar solo, in particular, is amazing. Day of the Baphomets follows next, and, being a bassist myself, I was so happy to hear such a killer bass solo to start things off. This song is probably my favorite of the entire CD. The closing song is nice, but never seems to go anywhere and ends abruptly, which always confuses me when I listen to it. Overall, I think this album gets dogged too much, but I do think that it left something to be desired, even if filling the shoes left by Deloused and Frances is a pretty impossible task in my opinion.

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Send comments to evantate09 (BETA) | Report this review (#192249)
Posted Sunday, December 07, 2008 | Review Permalink
Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The opening and closing psychedelic affairs are pretty hard to sit through, mostly because they last much longer than necessary. Other than that, AMPUTECHTURE is a sonic assault on the ears with a very prog-like complexity to it. The songs are generally in the mini-epic to epic range with the ''Tetragrammation'' thing taking the cake at nearly seventeen minutes.

AMPUTECHTURE is much louder, more aggressive and more relentless than many of the classic prog albums from the golden age of prog. ''Tetragrammation'' starts with a bang out of nowhere after the calm ''Vicarious Atonement'', and retains the listener's interest throughout the epic length with guitar squeal-outs, odd-timed ''choruses'', and appropriate dynamic changes. It's in competition with ''Days of the Baphomets'' for the best song on the album as Baphomets has an interesting bass solo at its beginning.

Some fundamental cases of ''stretching a piece too long'' are here with ''Meccamputechture'' and ''Asilios Magdalena'' with noise ambiences that seem to add nothing. ''Vermicide'' is an awkward attempt at something more radio-friendly that gets warmer as you keep trying to listen to it. Cedric's vocal overdubs sound way too chirpy and are annoying at worst.

DE-LOUSED is a better album for starters, but even with its flaws, AMPUTECHTURE sees the Mars Volta at a peak compositionally that aims for the listener's attention.

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Send comments to Sinusoid (BETA) | Report this review (#196819)
Posted Thursday, January 01, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars For my first review I chose an album often scorned by fans of the band. Amputechture is the third studio album by The Mars Volta, following a solid and gripping debut (De-loused), and their masterpiece second effort (Frances). Third time was not the charm for many Volta fans, but it was for me.

This album, like most of the Volta's releases, uses almost all of the available space on a CD with very little filler, something I've grown to appreciate. The Mars Volta continue to encompass endless elements and music styles with Amputechture, all the while creating their own sound of prog/space/latin/jazz- fusion/metal/psychadelic/demon rock. Although this is not considered a concept album like their first two releases, it might as well be, for many of the songs flow or transition into the next very well.

The Breakdown: 1)Vicarious Atonement is a beautiful and creepy intro with a spacey feel, but leads perfectly into the epic 2)Tetragrammaton, which grabs you by the throat and holds on for 16+ minutes. 3) Vermicide is almost a welcome break from Tetra's ups and downs, and has the most fluid structure of all 8 tracks. Vermicide seems like the only radio/single material on the album, but 'twas not to be. 4) Meccamputechture blasts into play with a furious intro and ends in the same fashion (the horns in this song might be my favorite part of the album), but does become a tad repetitive in the middle. 5)Asilos Magdalena is a unique gem of Volta songs, being mostly acoustic and sung entirely in spanish. It is very pretty and strangely dark. 6)Viscera Eyes was the short-lived single, which is understandable due to its length and half spanish lyrics. This song opens and continues with a fantastic riff and has a fun rock 'n' roll energy to it, but then changes tempo completely for the last 1/3 with a great bass hook and guitar solo that fade into keys played in the same notes. 7)Day of the Baphomets has a terrific bass intro, and then turns into a frenzy for 11 minutes with some stellar percussion...great song with a great pace for such a lengthy one. 8) El Ciervo Vulnerado closes the album in a similar way to its opening, weird and spacey and creepy. It has a bit of a middle-eastern feel and overlapped with effects. Very moody.

Amputechture is my favorite Volta release song-for-song, but has one flaw which keeps it from recieving 5 stars: it begins and finishes poorly. Although both the opener and closer are superb songs, they do not pull you in or climax properly enough to give the album a complete experience feel. Vicarious Atonement is a great intro to Tetra, but not a good 1st track.

If the tracklisting had Day of the Baphomets opening and Tetragrammaton closing, it would get 6 stars.

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Send comments to Sgt. Smiles (BETA) | Report this review (#197378)
Posted Monday, January 05, 2009 | Review Permalink
Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars Very powerful music abounds on this frighteningly wild gathering of eight generally lengthy songs. My favorite song is on this unrestrained yet somehow skin-tight album, and there's a lot more where that came from. There are a couple of songs that don't please me nearly as much, but they do not take away from an otherwise maniacally commanding collection of hard rock. Some of the group's most inexplicable lyrics are here, which is not to say they cannot be interpreted given the listener's own proclivity to do so- just be prepared for a headache or two in the process. The epic of the album is the song I give credit to dragging me kicking and screaming into loving The Mars Volta, and is one to this day that chills my spine every time I hear those opening notes. Like the two preceding it, this is a fantastic album. And the title is befitting: The album ends abruptly- amputated as it were.

"Vicarious Atonement" Peculiar noises serve as a spacey backdrop for guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez to warm up his fingers and that grainy tone of his. Vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala begins singing over the sparse instrumentation, with his partner escorting him almost note for note. It is a breathy piece, both with regard to the airy instrumentation (notably because of the lack of drums) and the very audible inhalations and exhalations of the singer.

"Tetragrammaton" The word representing the four-letter Hebrew name of Almighty God serves as the title for The Mars Volta's greatest accomplishment. It interrupts everything going on in the previous track in a furious eruption of choppy guitar notes and the drumming of what can only be an unchained beast. The lyrics are haunting to me, as they transport unutterable images and scenes to my mind. The chorus is at once insanely reckless and implausibly tight. Bixler-Zavala employs the range of his voice, reaching for notes in the ether. Rodriguez-Lopez casts spells on his guitar tone, producing inconceivable noises, even detuning the instrument until it growls. A long, mellower section with some repetitive brass music, some vocalizing, and guitar soloing follows. It is in a 4/4 time signature, but it intuitively does not count like one (I had to count the beats several times just to assure myself that it was indeed a straight four). The introduction is reprised with several noisy guitar embellishments to bring this ultimate piece to a static-ridden end.

"Vermicide" The static of the previous track brings in this relatively short song, which I personally would rank among the band's most radio-friendly work. It has a catchy chorus, and some fairly straightforward music (with the exception of that of the bridge, which carries on in 15/8). I really enjoy the instrumentation, and I believe this to be one of the band's best songs under five minutes.

"Meccamputechture" Once again the music is on the loud and experimental side, with wild guitar run through a wah pedal, brass instruments, and heavy drumming. When that subsides, the instrumentation behind Bixler-Zavala's hectic vocals is deliberately murky, particularly that swampy bass. The refrain is one of the most powerful moments of the album, again with the lead singer pulling notes from the heavens. The last several minutes has The Mars Volta at their most experimental. Wild saxophone plays over various sound effects and noises, while the bassist and drummer keep steady, even as everything else around them disintegrates into avant-garde claptrap. Abruptly, the music becomes cohesive again, and the listener is treated to some excellent organ over the main chords as the duo work over it.

"Asilos Magdalena" Exotic layers of sound and Eastern Mediterranean-like acoustic guitar introduce more Spanish-flavored acoustic guitar (played solo), with Spanish lyrics sung to a lovely melody over it. After a time, a second acoustic guitar joins, and then a third. Manipulations of the sound take over, with electric guitar and all manner of noises poured over the song, eventually washing over it almost completely.

"Viscera Eyes" Electronic percussion and noises akin to an 8-bit video game enter for forty seconds. Then the band bursts in with an upbeat rocker. Again, the lyrics are in Spanish (although not all of them), and the brass plays a more dominant role. I feel this song is largely a dissatisfactory track, as it carries on with no real evolution. The music does essentially change gears for the final three minutes, though (with no real transition to speak of), beginning with a great bass riff over which the other instruments come in to support Rodriguez-Lopez's extended solo. Bixler-Zavala finishes things up with some English lyrics and shrieking during the last minute.

"Day of the Baphomets" For those who thought the little bass bit in the previous song was a tease, Juan Alderte pulls off a full fifty-seconds of rapid and funky bass soloing before a raucous saxophone breaks in. As usual, the lyrics are bizarre and at times evocative of gruesome imagery. A heavily punctuated rhythm is the dominant characteristic of the instrumental middle section, which returns in a starker form near the end. During the second time around, Rodriguez-Lopez delivers a blistering and ear-splitting solo.

"El Ciervo Vulnerado" The final song is dreary and atmospheric, very much as the first one was. It's bland and meandering, and along with "Viscera Eyes," only drags the album down some. There's a lot of directionless passages, and I feel this otherwise phenomenal album would have been better off without this one altogether.

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Send comments to Epignosis (BETA) | Report this review (#203753)
Posted Thursday, February 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Amputechture' - The Mars Volta (7.5/10)

The first two records released by The Mars Volta (and their 'Tremulant EP') amazed me and blew me away. Their spacy, improvised and very unique style produced two masterpieces of modern progressive music, 'De-Loused In The Comatorium' and 'Frances The Mute.' While the band's third full-length album 'Amputechture' is excellent and has some really amazing sections in it, it's not quite up to par with the first two (although it's certainly a lot better than the noisy and disappointing 'Bedlam In Goliath.')

'Amputechture' has always seemed to me as being marriage between the two styles found on each of the previous two albums. There is the frantic raw energy found on 'De-Loused In The Comatorium' mixed with the spaciness and constant atmospherics showcased on 'Frances The Mute.' Funny as it may sound for such a 'weird' band such as The Mars Volta, some of the songs on 'Amputechture' actually sound very concisely composed, even if they're pretty long throughout. While attention to some sort of structure is always a good thing, and there are definately parts to remember, with the exception of some of the material, the songs just seem to blend in with themselves, which obviously isn't a good for songs that typically range up to nine minutes.

'Tetragrammaton' is the only song here that really benefits from being long. The other songs could have been honestly just as effective if they had been stripped down.

While 'Amputechture' has the energy/atmosphere combined from the first two albums, while it's still a great album to listen to once in a while, it simply doesn't have enough of those true moments of bliss that I look for in The Mars Volta. That's not to say there aren't any here, but you'll have to fish for them. Four stars.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#207697)
Posted Wednesday, March 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Only one year after Frances The Mute, the Mars Volta, maybe a little looser for not writing a concept album, and not having to create a story during the album, do again a powerful and chaotic record, with incredible musicianship and vocals.

As usual, the album starts slow, Vicarious Atonement is a beautiful track almost ambient music, with beautiful vocals and towards the end begin the psychedelic effects to open for Tetragrammaton, a truly spectacular song in all senses, it opens with a wall of sound with a great riff on it, then it slows to a warm ambient, really quiet, with a soft vocal melody until the powerful chorus and solos come in, but the really fantastic only comes at about 8 minutes, an out-of-this-world explosion with a fantastic solo which takes the song to one of the most addicting voice melody ever, led by Cedric's angry voice switching with falsetto, one of the most well-constructed song ever.

In a slow rhythm comes Vermicide, a 4 minute song with a really catchy chorus, a very single-like song, nothing new on The Mars Volta here but a very pleasant song, from almost nowhere kicks in Meccamputechture with its frantic beginning until it explodes in a fantastic chaotic riff, this is the toughest music in the album to get into, the vocals aren't melodic at all and the music is instable and chaotic, but when it grows on you you can understand perfectly this glorious psychedelic trip.

Asilos Magdalena is the acoustic song on the album, a really strange song, creepy, paranoid, dark, and you got to give credit for this, in the previous albums the quiet songs were always the singles and the most easy-listening songs (Televators and The Widow), this time they didn't repeat themselves and made the quiet song the creepiest possible, in general the song is very pleasant. Viscera Eyes kicks in with a powerful riff accompanied by really strange vocals in Spanish until the English comes in a much better melody and very addicting with an equally addicting chorus, meanwhile comes a psychedelic noise solo until it breaks in an incredible groove on the bass, followed by one of the most amazing solos in The Mars Volta or ever, it gains incredible speed until it breaks in a fantastic moment with a groovy soft voice, one of the greatest moments of the album.

Day Of The Baphomets comes in with a Latin rhythm accompanying a fantastic bass solo, accelerating until it explodes in a spacial riff with a totally chaotic ambient, totally destructive, between solos of brass and organ the song evolves to a fantastic chorus, incredible congas solo, incredibly addictive falsetto vocal melodies and of course tons of guitar soloing.

We are already tired when El Ciervo Vulnerado starts, I understand the mirrored album thing, but this song is a real filler, it's a pale imitation of the first song on the album.

It's noticeable that the Mars Volta by doing an album with 3 quiet songs wanted to make it the most hard to listen possible, and they did it greatly, it's a really difficult album to get into, with millions of solos, by all kinds of instruments, a very complex album, fantastic as usual for Mars Volta

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Send comments to JTP88 (BETA) | Report this review (#208685)
Posted Wednesday, March 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars After the surprising change in direction on Frances the Mute came an album that showed us a band that tried to get back on the same track they were on during the recording of their debut album. Unfortunately The Mars Volta isn't the same band as the were back in 2002/2003 so the end product resulted for me in another mixed-bag. Some songs are good or even excellent while others are quite forgettable.

This was my last The Mars Volta-album and I haven't really felt tempted to listen to The Bedlam In Goliath or Octahedron due to the mixed reviews those albums have received. Over the years Amputechture has received a lot more of my attention than Frances The Mute but neither of the two releases can match the times that I've listened to De-loused in the Comatorium. I can't really blame the band for pushing their sound in all these new directions which is something I would have liked to see done by most of the giants of prog-rock. My only complaint is that their products are not working for me and that's why I chose to move on and explore other exciting bands.

***** star songs: Day Of The Baphomets (11:56)

**** star songs: Vicarious Atonement (7:19) Vermicide (4:15) Viscera Eyes (9:23)

*** star songs:Tetragrammaton (16:41) Meccamputechture (11:02) Asilos Magdalena (6:34) El Ciervo Vulnerado (8:50)

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Send comments to Rune2000 (BETA) | Report this review (#259562)
Posted Wednesday, January 06, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Keep on moving!

I cant barely notice anything in this album that makes it inferior to its two antecessors De Loused and Frances. Amputechture is still a 5 stars albums for several reasons: very creative melodies, astonishing guitars and soundscapes, nice drumming and vocals, there is no weaker track until the end. Vicarious atonement is an appropiate opening of atmospheric soundscapes, leading the way to Tetragrammaton, one of the powerful and epic tracks, it could be a song from the Frances the mute album! The same for Meccampucthecture, which also presents nice sax compliments. Asilos Magdalena is a beatiful song and the band returns to the spanish language with this one. The progression of a romantic to a space, dark song is awesome. Vocals full of effects. Viscera eyes is very easier to listen to than most of the other songs, but also deserves its merit. The lyrics is in spanish and some parts in english. Day of Baphomets and el ciervo vunerado are simply the examples of what hard prog is.

At last, maybe the concept is not that much. After De Loused, it will be really difficult to a band create another album with such an intelligent and curious concept. This album is still essential and one of the greatest prog albums from 2006.

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Send comments to zedumar (BETA) | Report this review (#263522)
Posted Saturday, January 30, 2010 | Review Permalink
snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Third TMV studio album is quite different from its predecessors. For sure, it still same dready noisy chaotic sound, but ... not so rebelish. I always expect extreme energy from band's early works, it occurs there as well, but on very controlled level. Unusual. All the sound is muddy and a bit polished, what is unusual again. This combination gave a bit strange feeling - it looks that album is too bulky, a bit raw and too extended.

After some repetetive listening, I caught their music deeper there. No, everything is OK, great musicianship, crazy mixes, melodic, even acoustic pieces. In fact - same Mars Volta. But this time all this is placed not on the surface, but under the skin. So, you just must to try harder to understand this album's music. Then you will find everything you expected from true Mars Volta album.

Knowing great band's potential, I evaluate this album still as one of their worst. Not enough concentrated (for 76 min length), a bit too psychedelic, and the sound is only very average. But it doesn't mean that the album is bad. It just not as great as some other their works. Just 3,5, but rounded till 4 ( for one of the greatest heavy prog band of last decade).

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Send comments to snobb (BETA) | Report this review (#264223)
Posted Thursday, February 04, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars The Mars Volta's third album was somewhat of a departure from the first two, more slow burning and considered, less crazy and on the whole very pleasant to listen to, while still being able to rock when necessary. The band toned down the unusual samples, slowed down the drum rolls and produced the album rather differently than before. The end result is altogether pleasing.

Beginning with a haunting slow burning intro and ending with a similar outro the album flows really well, and is filled with some of the band's most concise yet still progressive songs, which are well structured and that (more or less) don't feel like an angry jam session where they're not supposed to.

The only problem, however is thaton first listen, the album doesn't have the same energy the first two Mars Volta album had. The production helps the album greatly in some areas, but in certain areas it would've been a lot better if the edge that I know the songs have, could've came across more on record, maybe louder drums and more distorted guitar would make the difference ?

This minor flaw aside, Amputecture is a wonderful album, with fantastic songs, ace keyboards and a 'whole,' feeling; Special mention must go to 'Meccamputecture,' and big time to 'Day of the Baphomets,' which are two of the band's finest works to date.

The Mars Volta do have some fantastic albums and If you like even one song by them I'd recommend that you buy all three albums? and be patient, they're flawed but ultimately worth it.

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Send comments to Gentlegiantprog (BETA) | Report this review (#278836)
Posted Wednesday, April 21, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Alot of people don't like this album, and I can see why, but I love it.

The guys in the band even consider as their "autistic child" which I thought was a wee bit harsh, but does make alot of sense, because their are moments that are evry different and almost sound random, but to me it doesn't, or maybe thats just my psychopathic mind.

To be honest, I wasn't the biggest fan of this album when I first heard, but after the 3rd time I started to understand it.

This album sounds alot different from their previous albums, but each album does have it's own unique quallity.

1. Vicarious Atonment - Very Pink Floyd. This can be considered as an intro, but it is rather beautiful. 9/10

2. Tetragrammaton - In my opinion, the guys best song. This song is just so captivating, the music which is just fractal and the beautiful and crazy vocals from Cedric. The lyrics also grabbed my attention, beacsue it is about a women who is possessed, and it uses quite dark religious imagery, which I have a boner for. Haha. 10/10

3. Vermicide - Great chorus. This song also just flows extremely well. 10/10

4. Meccamputechture - Very crazy, and the chorus is amazing. Again, instrumentally flawless. 10/10

5. Asilos Magdalena - A nice spanish acoustic ballad, in Spanish as well. Some lovely melodies. 9/10

6. Viscera Eyes - Another amazing chorus. The instrumental section at the end is also incredibly groundbreaking. 10/10

7. Day Of The Baphomets - Yay, Baphomet, my favourite occult character. This song is very crazy and the most jazziest moment on the album. 10/10

8. El Ciervo Vulnerado - Basically track 1. Might as well end it the way it started. 9/10

CONCLUSION: I just love this abum so much. This would be in my top 20 albums of all time definetly.

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Send comments to arcane-beautiful (BETA) | Report this review (#289515)
Posted Wednesday, July 07, 2010 | Review Permalink
zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Post Rock Team
4 stars I believe this to be TMV's best album. I think they started to go downhill after this, but went very slowly down that hill. In fact, I think Omar spent so much time making 3.5 billion solo albums in the past 3 years that he forgot TMV even existed. Some, nay, many say Francis was the last good album. Or some will even say De-loused was their only good album. What Amputechture has over Francis is that the ratio of music to sound effects is 95/5, whereas on Francis that ratio is 60/40. In many ways this album is more stereotypical 'prog' than the first two. There is also saxophone on this which adds to the music. I'm not sure why Chili Pepper Frusciante plays on TMV albums, I'm sure Omar could do all the guitar parts himself. Maybe when Frusciante records his parts, Omar sneaks off to make another solo album. I dunno.

The lyrics here are just as nonsensical as you would expect them to be. But honestly, I'd rather listen to: "Glossolalia coats my skin/Glycerin and turbulence/Stuffed the voice of God/Mirrors to the animals" than to somebody preaching to me about how awful the world is. I *know* how awful the world is, that's why I listen to music to get away from it! I actually don't think the vocals of Cedric are quite as annoying here as they are on other TMV albums. A bonus of course. Generally there is so much going on in the mix that it's hard to tell exactly what instruments you are listening too half the time. This could be good or bad but here tends towards the former. "Asilos Magdelena" is a nice acoustic ballad sung in Spanish(are Cedric's Spanish lyrics as crazy as his English ones?), but it starts off with spacy sound effects and ends with weird modified vocals and some not-so-nice electric guitar. So, don't expect this almost lovely song to get played on your local radio station anytime soon.

"Day Of The Baphomets" has some really great bass soloing at the beginning. There is so much going on in this song, it just changes constantly but is never boring. A clear highlight. I might even go so far as to say it's one of my top 3 favourite TMV songs. The album ends on the very anti-climatic "El Ciero Vulnerado" which just ends abruptly. One of the main reasons this won't get 5 stars from me. But at least it's the last song, and this is a long album. So 4 stars it is.

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Send comments to zravkapt (BETA) | Report this review (#304260)
Posted Friday, October 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
Flucktrot
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Most of us love a challenge, and Mars Volta typically offers at least that.

With Amputechture, I hear an inferior follow-up to Frances the Mute, but still plenty of interesting music. I think the key feature is that with Frances--in particular the epic Cassandra Geminni--Mars Volta were building to something, leading up to anything that would resemble some sort of climax for the chaos leading up to it.

Not so with Amputechture. Good music just happens sporadically, often to be followed by relatively uninteresting material.

Highlights: Meccamputecture, Viscera Eyes, Day of the Baphomets. Fortunately, Mars Volta keep most of their best music--at least to my ears--to these three tracks. The longest, Tetragrammation, has some decent material, but it's largely a mess: superficially creative, but simply alternating between hyperfast playing and ambience. One thing to remember: Cedric's double-octave overdubbing is more annoying than interesting, and Tetragrammation has an awful lot of it, much to its detriment.

Meccamputecture features intense freaking out within the same general rhythm. I think they excel at this--perhaps even Zheul-style--but their short attention spans often prevent them from exploring things in depth. Of course, including the horns always helps to prick up this progger's ears too. With Viscera, again the guys pick up a beat and just kill it--great stuff. Baphomets is a bit different, as it's very schizophrenic, but here the variety works for me (particularly Omar's freakout toward the end), although the aforementioned limitation of not leading to anything spectacular still applies.

So, we have plenty of good prog, and then plenty of average material. Who would expect anything else from the Mars Volta? Make of it what you will, but if you are new to the group, I would start with Frances the Mute and lower your expectations from there.

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Send comments to Flucktrot (BETA) | Report this review (#318252)
Posted Saturday, November 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
Starhammer
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Cut me ears off...

The album's title is a portmanteau of the words amputate, technology and architecture, a term coined by the band's late sound technician.

The Good: Viscera Eyes.

The Bad: The first two outings from the Mars Volta were both captivating and have merited countless listens from yours truly. Whilst the aforementioned releases brought a perfect blend of both atmosphere and abstraction bordering on avant-garde at times, there was a definite method to their madness. This on the other hand is a mess, an absolute mess, and a boring mess at that. Sure it has its moments, but for the most part it just throws around incoherent noodling interjected with semi catchy riffs and really is a chore to listen to. To put it in perspective, the only standout track requires 44 minutes of listening to reach, and even after that there is a further 20 minutes to sit through before the final album finally closes.

The Verdict: An uninspired exercise in self-derivation.

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Send comments to Starhammer (BETA) | Report this review (#439938)
Posted Thursday, April 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I thought this was worth taking a chance on despite the mixed reviews. Besides I knew if I didn't like it my daughter would be happy to take this disc off my hands. For me it doesn't measure up to the first two albums in fact it's not even close.There are two tracks in "Viscera Eyes" and "Day Of The Baphomets" that really blew me away, and if the rest of the album was even close to sounding like these tracks i'd be praising this to no end. Others have explained the differences between this record and the previous two but for me the bottom line is that this one lacks the insanity, those exaggerated mood swings if you will.The opening and closing tracks are similar in that there isn't much in the way of dynamics making them both long listens.

"Tetragrammaton" is the longest tune and they do contrast the more laid back sections with the more intense sections throughout but it's almost too predictable. I do like the guitar before 8 minutes and the floating organ before 13 minutes though. "Vermicide" just doesn't do anything for me and i'm surprised at how mellow "Asilos Magdalina" is. Again those two tracks I like are killer (love the horns) and I hit the repeat button on those two but overall I can't give this more than 3 stars.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#442952)
Posted Wednesday, May 04, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Amputechture ? 2006

10 ? Best Song: Mecchamputechture

Omar and his friends are a pretty sharp band of fellows. They usually have some heady themes, like with this Amputechture, where the (accepted) title track is a portmanteau of Mecca, Amputate, Technology, and Architecture, which is really a genuine idea. But it seems like every successive year they're wanting to push the limit on overwhelming just a few more inches. If you thought that Frances the Mute took patience to slip into and enjoy, Amputechture's another beast ? and assuredly a monolithic one at that. But don't be discouraged, because it IS possible, though I'm unsure as to whether or not having done so begets a reward.

See, they've decided that long songs are more fun to play that short songs, and we get 'Tetragrammaton', a 16 minute spark jolt jam of blistering guitars (where they've finally succumbed to it and adopted the ideals of Pink Floyd's biting visceral nature paired with King Crimson's drive and vitriol). It's certainly not worth the length, even if they balance things out with softer, more subdued movements. It's just too much to take in one sitting, and there's no truly defining moment like Inertiatic ESP.

The singing has become higher pitched and more 'astral', if I were to plant a term on it. The hyperactivity is something I've grown accustomed to, and it doesn't bite as hard as it did before. It sure is a jazzy concoction, though. I don't always like the way he sings (too punky hardcore or too helium-induced), but to deny these their frenzy, it's simply not acceptable. This is the essence of frenzy without direction.

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Send comments to Alitare (BETA) | Report this review (#459129)
Posted Saturday, June 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars 20 minutes less and it could be perfect

Introduction

Mars Volta's third work comes out from the long and controversial Frances the Mute, as the previous works the album is a concept one and this time TMV talk about the differences between faith and church: almost all tracks' name have references with religion or catholic church (I'll say nothing about their meaning, since the group leave the meaning of the lyrics open and without the full explaination).

Main Theme

Comes out from the first track that we've not another Frances, this time the music is the main meal and the psychy Vicarious will satisfy a lot of people who aren't long date followers of the group, while the voice from Bixler-Zavala sounds more mature than before, giving of himself a deeper interpretation of lyrics, this intense work from him seems almost vanished in Tetragrammaton! Anyway the song is maybe the best of TMV past and present, and the screamings are contained in greats moments of unforgivable music, with slow moments and furious reprises. Here we see a more dynamic TMV capable of great soundscapes already seen in Frances without forgetting the real music. Superb the guitar from Rodríguez-López. Vermicide is a quick interlude which shows a great crescendo between the voice, guitar and drums. The third great song (Mecca, amputate, technology, architecture - evolved from the neologism which names the album) is a frenzied movement that sometimes falls in a slow ballad, again the voice isn't perfect but the shouts are contained in some way. Asilos Magdalena begin as a slow & decadent ballad, too bad the end is pointless and bring back the second part of The Widow (from Frances). Viscera Eyes lasts 9 minutes it's maybe the second best track from this album and shows how great can be the musical composition from Rodríguez-López and even the voice does the works perfectly joining with the other instruments.

Reprise

I'll sever the album here for two reasons: first look at the title, second 'till now we don't have got any flaw. The last two songs don't add anything new in the scene and after almost an hour of intense music, the frenetic lyrics from Day of the Baphomets (shouted almost for the full lenght!) are almost excessive, sum the music a bit too redundant for 11 minutes. Last track is a merely reprise from Vicarious more decadent, again a nice spacey sound as the coda of the album, a good song taken alone, but counting the lenght of first track and the way how they explored it, maybe 9 minutes are a bit too much and 76 for the whole album get me frustrated all the times.

Coda

Like italian pasta coocked too much Amputechture gives the feeling that something went wrong, and in this case the similitude is perfect: as pasta became a disgusting quaggy thing, this album get the listener bored! Don't misunderstand me, almost 'till Viscera Eyes everything works fine and if you just skip the last two maybe this album is really a masterpiece, too bad I cannot rate the album severed, so it's 3 stars even if Tetragrammaton is really essential TMV!

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Send comments to Erik Nymas (BETA) | Report this review (#459358)
Posted Sunday, June 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
3 stars A huge disappointment following the masterful Frances the Mute, Amputechture is a loud, bombastic mess. Often the tracks are headache inducing, the vocals blare, the bass is merciless and the guitar chords are chaotic jazz at its worst. Many tracks needed to be discarded to trim down the enormous running time of 76 minutes, however some tracks redeem the album from a total waste.

Tetragrammaton is definitely the highlight for me clocking some 17 minutes and it features lengthy jamming with Omar A Rodriguez-Lopez's guitar and wild percussive metrical shapes from Jon Theodore. The Latin rhythms are everpresent and the non sensical banter of Cedric Bixler Zavala, but it hangs together with excellent time sig shifts and breaks. The skull crunching brass permeates through Isaiah Ikey Owens keyboards.

Viscera Eyes is certainly one of the Mars Volta's best compositions, with memorable melodies and aggressive blasts of acid fuelled psyche prog. Latinese embellishments are present in the lyrics and musical style, and it works very well to drive the song onwards.

Day of the Baphomets is a mini epic at about 12 minutes in length and is one I return to with wonderful twists and turns and some sultry Latin rhythms. Juan Alderte's bass is a key feature and in fact he solos in a wonderful detour from all the loud guitar noise. Lurking slices of saxophone break through and cap this off as one of the best from the band in their illustriuos career.

Overall, the highlights are weighed down by some genuine filler material and it appears as though the band were attempting to fill an entire CD. They do just that but it is difficult to sit through all this raucous mayhem. Perhaps in 2 sittings the album works better as I was shocked at how ordinary sections of this album are, even non-prog commercial radio-friendly at times, but the band refuse to conform to any particular genre, accepting a myriad of genres in their music, making this a very challenging and frustrating album. 3 stars is a reasonable rating for the aforementioned tracks.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#511681)
Posted Monday, August 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars 9/10

The autistic child.

This is The Mars Volta at its best. It's as if they had joined the two better than his previous albums (for which I have mixed feelings) offered and create a superior album, but incredibly underrated. And I wonder: Why? There's nothing here that has not been seen before. Only this time it's good for me.

Amputechture opens with psychedelic nuances (Pink Floyd to be exact, a major influence on the band) something very characteristic of these guys, and guitar moves with enough psychedelia before the two minutes between Cedric's voice is slow and slurred, contributing to the strange weather at the beginning of the album. It's Vicarious Atonement, an opening track unusual. However, what can I say except that she's amazing! Actually not everyone was prepared for this song (I was not), but this is the kind of strangely pleasant experience. Things get even better when after a great climax the music enters in a "soul" section led by bass, piano and vocals. The music grows with sound effects and ends abruptly. This is a feature of the album (and one of its shortcomings): most of the songs end abruptly and shockingly, leaving the listener unprepared. I know that TMV is not a band of conventions, but if the songs end with a final truth would be something decent and dignified.

At this point a fan of the band should be asking yourself, "Man, but where's the crazy and cacophonous sound of these guys?" . The answer comes with the epic Tetragrammaton that is ready to go crazy with the listener 16 minutes of what the band knows best: doing experimentation and unconventional. The Mars Volta not is a band for all (I am not a big fan of them). However once immersed in the strange universe is difficult to get out of them (and I think this is happening to me).

All the folly of this epic is replaced by a simple song called Vermicide. Frankly I wanted to use a vermicide against this song, because it is the second worst on the album (after the mediocre close music), though its chorus is cool. But the band recovered with honors and soon after is given one of the best songs on the disc: the epic Meccamputechture. There are two things I love this music: the metallic bass line that pulses all the time and the crazy saxophone shown here. Wow, this is awesome! Asilos Magdalena is a gentle ballad in Spanish rhythm (and also letters in that language) which is nice, but not be anything else.

Viscera Eyes is the single from the album and and one of the highlights. After a strange start full of sound effects (and that made ​​me wonder if my sound was in trouble - ha, I'm an idiot) explodes with a frantic guitar riff that leads to an amazing ride. The music is divided into two distinct sections: the first is very good and crazy, while the second is jazz- fusion and released disappointing (although initiated by a powerful and spectacular bass - man, that bassist plays a lot!).

And if the band's influences are not clear enough, I think a guitar emulating the sound of a Frippertronic can open your eyes, dear reader. Yes, Day of the Baphomets is an obvious nod to the King Crimson of the 70s and 80s, but to incorporate that sound bizarre and heavy - oh, that's only the pod to TMV. By far one of the best songs on the album, and one in which the sound is more present prog. I like the break that occurs there for 5 minutes, where the music ranges brutally - is, I was not prepared for it, but I can say that I liked. Actually I liked it so much now I say this is the absolute masterpiece of this album and is definitely my favorite song ever from The Mars Volta.

Unfortunately all the good fruits harvested in this album are wasted on the mediocre, dull El Ciervo Vulnerado. Despite the title pretty (inspired by a biblical passage) the song is nothing but pure 9 minutes thrown in the trash - a lot of disconnected ideas, bad vocals and ridiculous passages environments, in a failed attempt to end the album as the Vicarious Atonement began.

Well, I think it is clear that this is in my opinion the best album of TMV to date. Criminally underrated, incredibly good, I think it deserves 5 stars. And that's all.

Omar and Cedric, the autistic child is your best.

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Send comments to voliveira (BETA) | Report this review (#561454)
Posted Wednesday, November 02, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Not quite as consistantly good as De-Loused, but still darn good! This was my first exposure to The Mars Volta, and it totally blew me away. There are some awesome prog tunes here: Tetragrammaton, Meccamputecture, and my favorite, the intense and wild ride of Day of the Baphomets. I never get tired of listening to this song!!! And it even feature a wild bongo? solo! Pure wonderfulness in 12 minutes. The rest of the album is also good with only a few dry spots. Is it as good as De-Loused in the Comatorium? Perhaps, but it is close. I enjoy them both equally, much more than Bedlam in Goliath or Francis the Mute. When I am not in the mood, this is 3 stars. When I am ready for all out Mars Volta madness, 4 1/2 stars.

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Send comments to mohaveman (BETA) | Report this review (#637086)
Posted Tuesday, February 21, 2012 | Review Permalink

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