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

THE BEDLAM IN GOLIATH

The Mars Volta

Heavy Prog


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4 stars It's quite difficult to size up this new Mars Volta record. On the one hand, I'm tempted to speculate that the record's more aggressive tone is the result of Omar Rodriquez-Lopez' conscious decision to win back the approval of the punk/hard-rock fans who cried foul over the more subtle and mysterious Amputechture. That, along with a promotional video game and a recent appearance on the David Letterman show, paint the picture of a formerly aloof group practically begging for acceptance.

But actually listening to The Bedlam in Goliath, I'm left with another thought: Holy cr*p, this is one evil, rocking BEAST of an album.

It's also difficult to size up The Mars Volta as a typical prog-rock entity, because while they do invite certain comparisons to King Crimson, they really aren't---or have tried to be---one kind of music or another. They've never had both feet in prog, or punk, or psychedelia, or salsa, or *anything,* and as there are no other bands toying with such strange hybrids, there are no other terms on which to measure their artistic success or failure except their own.

So far, fan reactions to this album have been mixed. Their best since 'Deloused in the Comatorium'! insist some (a claim that has become as cliched as declaring every new David Bowie album as being 'his best since 'Scary Monsters!' and which simultaneously backhands their other two excellent albums). No hooks! gripes others (although complaining that TMV doesn't dole out enough pop hooks is like going to a Mexican restaurant and bitching that there are no chocolate-chip pancakes on the menu).

What their music shares with prog is a fondness for odd meters, and formal structures that explode the confines of the verse-chorus-verse pop song. Oftentimes the harmonic structures suggest the dark, knotty dissonances of Starless and Bible Black-era King Crimson, undergirding the kind of heavy pentatonic riffing that classic-prog guitarists like Fripp and Steve Howe turned up their noses at 40 years ago. Conversely, their music is busy but not necessarily virtuosic. It is only by America's post-grunge era standard, when instrumental prowess virtually disappeared altogether from rock music, which makes TMV appear to be a highly chops-y band. Full-on prog groups, from Yes to Dream Theater, could still play circles around The Mars Volta, if that were the whole game.

The thing is, The Mars Volta play with a fury that you can *feel,* which transcends the pristine technical achievements of their prog-rock forebears. Their music is sweaty, bloody, haunted, spastic.

Roughly speaking, if Caravanserai-era Santana were to cover the first Captain Beyond album, or if King Crimson were to cover Interstellar Overdrive, both under the influence of violent hallucinogens, that's a good starting point for describing The Mars Volta. Except that they never sound in any way retro...

But anyway... what about the new album?

The Bedlam in Goliath front-loads its most physically intense moments---the first track literally screams in your face from the moment it begins, and one track after another assaults the listener with maniacal intensity. Interestingly, much of this intensity comes directly and solely from the band's new drummer, Thomas Pridgen. This guy is *blindingly* proficient and virtually does all of the work for the band in detonating one musical idea after another. It is only towards the second half of the album where the explosions occur only intermittently and the band re-enters the textural and atmospheric terrain they opened up on their previous album, Amputechture. It is in these less ferocious moments where the drummer seems unsure of how to handle the material. The same heroic bursts of primal energy that Pridgen unleashes on Goliath and Cavalettas result in overplaying on the more subdued groove of Ilyana, and he sounds rather lost in the slow five-four pulse of the otherwise gorgeously realized Soothsayer. The band gets a second wind in the last minutes of Conjugal Burns, but after the frantic onslaught of the first half of the record and the hypnotic lethargy of the penultimate Soothsayer, one gets the impression of a band out-of-breath, stopping to collect itself before making that last sprint toward the finish line.

The longer tracks (for the first time in the band's full-length discography, no song on the album exceeds ten minutes) share more in common with the long tracks on Amputechture in that they feel more mosaic in structure---the organic flow and natural momentum of the longer tracks on Deloused are traded for more abrupt, random juxtapositions which may or may not--in fact, let's just stick with may not---have any intrinsic musical relation to its adjacent sections.

The only problems The Mars Volta have had, in actuality, stem from having set the bar so high for themselves in the first place. Their first album was an exhilarating shock to the fanbase of their previous agit-punk band, At the Drive-In, but with each successive record being judged more harshly than the one before it, they find themselves in the same quandary that many progressive bands discovered: How can a band re-invent the wheel every time they enter the studio? Stand in the same ground you already broke, and you're accused of becoming formulaic. Keep trying to innovate, and you're accused of disappearing up your own ass. How do you please fans who want things to be familiar enough to get an instant grip on, AND exploratory enough to make them feel they are with the band on the cutting edge?

Philosophically, I'm not sure if The Bedlam in Goliath is going to answer any of those questions.

Viscerally and musically, however, this is an absolutely stunning, killer album.

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Send comments to DaveRoxit (BETA) | Report this review (#159472)
Posted Monday, January 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars OK, for one, I used to be a HUGE TMV fan. I still think De-loused in the Comatorium, their first work, is one of the greatest albums ever recorded. So there are a lot of expectations for The Bedlam in Goliath. (Namely, I want to like it as much as De-loused.) But first let me expound on why I used to be a huge fan...

Their sound has not matured much from Frances the Mute, their second album. It doesn't all sound the same (like most rock bands' songs tend to after a few releases), but it just sounds predictable. I personally think a lot of this has to do with songwriter Omar Rodriguez-Lopez's releasing six albums within a year-and-a-half period. Dude needs to take a break! (Though I will say Bedlam is much better than his past few solo releases, and worth listening to. I'll explain now.)

The songs that don't sound like your typical Mars Volta are stellar (Ilyena, Agadez, etc.). The album as a whole works great and flows well. The new drummer is unbelievable. The vocals have calmed down from their last album's style (which is great, because it would get a little too over-the-top on that last release, to the point of causing an earache to the listener.) The groovy parts are SUPER groovy (check out Metatron, Goliath, Ouroborous, to name a few). The music sounds different enough from their past efforts to feel like a culmination of what they've been trying to do since Frances.

So if you can stand to hear a lot of what you would expect with some really, really cool surprises, then this album is for you. If you're not a huge fan of what TMV has done before, then there are only a few songs you'll probably enjoy. I'm surprised that there are a lot of different-sounding songs on the album; ever since Omar started pooping out solo albums in 2006, I've been very skeptical of where The Mars Volta would go next. But they did good.

And the concept of The Bedlam in Goliath being a curse brought upon the band by a Ouija board, plays out well. (Although the album doesn't have any mysterious abilities that I know of... yet!)

-Jacob From my blog: theconobserver.blogspot.com

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Send comments to tehkernel (BETA) | Report this review (#159515)
Posted Tuesday, January 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
The Pessimist
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Man this was a surprise. Undoubtedly the second best TMV album (under Frances the Mute), this album flows very nicely indeed. I fell in love with it at first listen, and this is why:

Originality! Its prog, but with bite! Not for the faint hearted, this album does for prog what horror does for the movie industry: it attracts the people out for a thrill. Unlike Amputechture, this album goes back to the roots of the band (Tremulant, De-loused and Frances) and as nicely put by one of our forum members, it leaves you with a what the F*** was that? kind of feel to it. You play the album, and before you know it it's over.

Secondly, the level of musicianship is outstanding. They use more irregular time signatures than even Rush and Gentle Giant, have a world class drummer, Omar is excellent, Cedric is Cedric, Ikey does his thing to fill out the sound and overall the band is superb. Each member has mastered his own art to perfection over the years, and it's paid off in this amazing collection of songs.

Thirdly, i don't know about you, but i get sick of too many ballads on one album. Well, as always, The Volta have only stuck one in on Bedlam, and it's stunningly progressive, lasting only 2:41. The rest are all upbeat, danceable, strangely arranged and heavy songs that keep you on your feet.

The highlights of the album would be all of it. There is not one bad song. But if I were to pick 4 songs they would be Wax Simulacra, Goliath, Cavalettas and Conjugal Burns, strictly because they are the with the biggest drive. However I would not put down any song in this album, as it is stunning, consistant and perfect. The fact that none of the songs exceed 10 minutes is also a good thing, but may well be frowned upon in the prog world.

In a nutshell, it's extremely hard to get bored of and will appeal to proggers that enjoy the more aggressive side of music.

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Send comments to The Pessimist (BETA) | Report this review (#159563)
Posted Wednesday, January 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars I have to say IMHO that this album equals previous greats by Oman and bunch. Though I've only been through this disk twice so far, there are moment remeniscent of Deloused... Frances the Mute and even At the Drive In material. i'm not going to do an in depth revview until i feel that i really have sunk my teeth into the album itself and it might be a little quick to judge but i do say that this could possibly be their best, if only just second place behind the irreplacable Delouse in the Comatorium. The song structure is incredible the new drummer doesn't miss a beat and drums frantically then slows it down into a jazz rythym that will give you chills. Though i haven't really embraced it fully yet. I can already feel its power and understand why its garnering such amazing critical attention.

5 Stars.

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Send comments to shentile (BETA) | Report this review (#160177)
Posted Tuesday, January 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars I guess I'm the only person that thinks this album IS'NT an absolute masterpiece.

THIS IS NOT THE BEST ALBUM SINCE DE-LOUSED. It sounds nothing like De-Loused, and if you think it does you're deaf as hell. As a matter of fact TMV are getting more predictable with every album. Bedlam is missing the dramatic moments that Deloused and Frances had. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for change in a bands sound (Porcupine Tree for example) but TMV are starting to steer away from the rich atmospheric concept albums, and make music that is frantic, fast and loud. I can barely differentiate most of the songs on Bedlam.

They pretty much stripped everything that made their music appealing to me. What happened to Cedric's soulful howl? On Bedlam he sings in a whiny voice that sounds like a voice you would make if you were mocking someone. The guitars are no longer a crucial role I guess, on Bedlam it's all loud fuzz distortion, with few solos. Wheres the bass and sweet keyboards? There aren't any creepy synthy interludes anymore. The one thing you can always expect though, is insane drumming (I still prefer Theodore).

On De-Loused, Frances, and EVEN on Amputechture they at least sound like a band whos members are contributing a fair share of their genius. Bedlam sounds like another one of Omars solo albums w/ Cedric's vocals.

I'm not bein a Volta hater. I've loved them since 2003. I still love the band and what they stand for.

Give me time and I'll probably lighten up....

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Send comments to cerpin_taxt16 (BETA) | Report this review (#160236)
Posted Wednesday, January 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars My journey with The Mars Volta started about three years ago. After I listened to their music, got really annoyed and deleted all of their songs from my hard drive and never thought of it again, I was reintroduced to the Mars Volta when someone who reviewed one of our songs in Garageband compared us to this band I had a faint recollection of. My second impression was what the hell is this? I let Opher have a listen and he shared my sentiment. But this time I didn't forsake, and after five times of listening to De-louse at the Comatorium, I finally got it. I recommended it to Shai, whose initial response was unsurprisingly it's not that great, but he eventually came around too. I've listened to this album hundreds of times, and I'm not exaggerating. It remained in my Car's CD changer for a total of six months straight (CD changer? What the hell is that?), and I can always listen to it again and not be bored by a single moment, even though I practically know it all by heart. Well, except for the lyrics. Even my memory has limits.

Unfortunately, such an excellent debut is hard to follow. The release of The Mars Volta's fourth studio album, The Bedlam in Goliath, is further proof of the fact that while Deloused was an amazing achievement, it appears that it stunned even the members of the Mars Volta themselves. They really have no idea how it happened, and have been trying to recreate this success time and time again, in a variety of unlikely methods. When it comes down to it, it wasn't the guitar blips and churns that made De-loused at the Comatorium a great album. It also wasn't Omar's guitar technique of hitting every possible note until something sounds right nor was it Cedrix's distinguished high frequency vocals. It was the way all of those things were wrapped together with excellent melodies and efficient songwriting. The compositions were complicated, the arrangements were packed, it had so many features that under other circumstances would be irritating rather than beautiful, but it all fit together perfectly, delivering a complete artistic message. Every song had a beginning, an end, and a whole lot of unpredictable middle between them. But the songs were clear. They served their purpose perfectly.

And then something happened. Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala apparently forgot how to do it. They forgot how songs should begin and end. Without this vital knowledge, they started to experiment with new methods of constructing songs. In Frances the Mute, they decided that every song should end with 3-10 minutes of painful noise, caused either by a random synthesizer module or simply by someone kicking a guitar amp that's turned all the way up, until the next song eventually suddenly emerges. On Amputechture, they decided to try a different way to end songs. They simply wouldn't end at them all. The songs go on and on, most lasting over 10 minutes, and usually not justifiably so.

The Bedlam in Goliath sees a combination of the two. The songs lengthes are not standard (not as much as on Amputechture, but still), and instead of ending each song with a lot of noise, they decided to record the noise OVER the actual songs. Kill two birds with one stone, aye? Also, instead of having a beginning and an end, the songs simply erupt into existence and then eventually get disrupted and a new song would begin without any warning. It took me three listens to realize that Aberinkula and Metatron are actually two separate songs. Because with these guys, how can you tell, really?

By the way, do NOT put this album on if your stereo's volume is high. I wasn't kidding about the part about the songs erupting - I think I lost 20% of my hearing capacity the first time I listened to this album.

Now, it's not that I'm a stranger to songs who spread through an unconventional period of time. Obviously, since the average running time of a Solstice Coil song is six minutes. I love the 30 minutes long The Truth will set You Free by The Flower Kings, for example. But the reason I love it so much is that despite the fact it's so long, it doesn't feel that long. It's carefully constructed with a variety of excellent melodies, instrumentals and diverse arrangements, which is exactly what De-loused had. Frances the Mute had a couple of very good songs, but it had more noise than actual songs. The 30 minutes long saga at the end of the album, doesn't work as well as the aforementioned piece does. While it has some powerful melodies, it also has several minutes of either noise or complete silence, and very long and agonizing one chord jams. Amputechture was mostly a headache. Though it had some memorable moments, they were scarcely scattered among many minutes of excruciating dissonant guitar solos.

The Bedlam in Goliath has the least redeeming moments. When I first listened to it, I was appalled. I couldn't believe one of my favorite bands released something so horrible. But since I know that things change with this band, I continued to listen, and I started discovering the content beyond the racket. Much to my dismay, it wasn't enough. Every time I got to a good part and started thinking, hey, this is actually not bad, something twice as horrible came in its stead and made me forget why I ever liked listening to this band in the first place.

The majority of the songs are comprised of good choruses and crappy verses. However, even the good choruses sound almost exactly like the good choruses from previous albums, with a slight variation of a note or two. Much like in the Cassandra Geminni saga, the verses consist of a long jam based on a generic hard rock riff, with Cedric singing completely-improvised-blue-note-drenched vocal melodies, which I'm afraid to say are often quite ugly, even though some of the riffs are cool. I think that the best melodies on this album are on the disco song, Ilyena. And by the way, I [%*!#]ING HATE DISCO.

Wax Simulacra is one of the shortest songs in Mars Volta history. It erupts with some way-too-happy melodies, and includes some bizarre Nintendo-esque musical transitions between verse and chorus, which reminds me of the soundtrack of Contra 3. This is actually one of the better songs, which is why it's a shame it ends as quickly as it begins. Did I mention the whole eruption/disruption concept?

Goliath begins with a Rage Against The Machine groove, includes unmelodic improvised vocal melodies again, along with some obvious King Crimson rip offs, which eventually evolves into yet another generic rock riff extravaganza.

Tourniquet Man is another short song, only this time, we'd be better off if it stayed that way. Starting off with an 80s style chorus guitar, which is always the harbinger of bad news, almost half of the song is overrun by the most excessive use of annoying effects I've ever heard. This song makes me cry, and not in a good way.

In Cavalettas, the Mars Volta show just how completely lost they are in the art of songwriting. If every song on De-loused has carefully picked melodies, which were both catchy and challenging at the same time, then The Bedlam in Goliath is the complete opposite. In fact, Bedlam is De-loused's arch nemesis. A weak, feeble, poke-you-in-the-shoulder-a-million-times-kind-of-annoying arch nemesis. Cavalettas demonstrates the poorest technique in songwriting, which simply states - if I repeat the same melody four hundred times in a row, the song will become catchy! So granted, after a few listens, I started walking around with 5 seconds of this song stuck in my head, playing repeatedly in a never-ending loop, but is that really a good thing?

In all Mars Volta albums, there's always a moment I instinctively send my hand to my pocket because I'm sure somebody's calling me on my cellular phone. Usually it's not the case, rather the various blips and squeaks (or Hammond) that resemble the sound of a ringtone that the band likes to add to the music with no apparent reason so much. On Askepios, they take it one step further. They actually sampled the noise that speakers make when affected by a cellular phone's radiation when it is about to go off. Also, this song includes some of the ugliest melodies I've heard in my entire life, including the stupidest guitar solo in Mars Volta history, and, let's face it, Omar does tend to play some really idiotic [&*!#] from time to time.

Ouroborous reintroduces us to the Mars Volta's Spanish influences, which, thank god, we've been spared of up until this point. This is practically the only aspect where this album is better than the previous two. As much as I enjoy constantly making up words for Mars Volta songs and turning all the lyrics into a tribute to Lorenzo Lammas, I have enough trouble understanding their english lyrics. Also, the use of Spanish percussions in this song sounds like a pale attempt to recycle the cool groovy vibe of Drunkship of Lanterns.

Soothsayer is another example of the same melodic line repeating itself a million times. Cedric improvises front to back, and some of his attempts hit the mark, but mostly this song is a nuisance. The entire song, all nine minutes of it, includes the same [%*!#]ing Arabian nights riff that repeats itself over and over and over again. It's nice that Omar decided to get in touch with his Middle Eastern roots, but dude, do it on your own time.

The fact that the album ends with Conjugal Burns does bring some hope, as this is one of the better songs, maybe the best. It definitely has the best chorus. Although, again, it sounds too much like the chorus of Take The Veil Cerpin Taxt, both in melody and arrangement.

It all comes down this time: While De-loused was an actual artistic accomplishment that operated in a void, because nobody believed that this kind of music would ever be so popular in this day of age, its success spoiled the band for good. They've been desperately trying crack their own secret formula, but only managed to scratch the surface, reusing the external elements without any of the internal content. The excessive use of noise, the continuing attempts to make everything bigger and louder causes them to completely miss the point. De-loused has some pretty stupid dissonant guitar roles, but they all worked within the context. Stupid, yet borderline brilliant. They told the story. And it seems like the Mars Volta have forgotten that in music, much like in cinema, story is key. And no, that does not mean that the lyrics have to convey the epic tale of a cybernetic one eyed centaur that travels through space and time to find a good ham and cheese sandwich, through metaphors that only someone who has inhaled poisonous gasses can understand. It means consistency. Which, much like a bad David Lynch movie, is what this album lacks the most. Okay, I know, all David Lynch movies are bad, but this is more like a student film trying to imitate the works of David Lynch.

The Mars Volta are constantly turning into a parody of themselves. The audacity of self importance and the complete lack of self awareness, fuelled by fame and sheer laziness, are causing them to magnify all of their faults and diminish their strengths. In the past, when Cedric sang in his unique high pitched voice, it was moving, because he was doing it out of some kind of pain. Now it feels like he's doing it because he has to. It's expected of him. It's his shtick. De-loused was an intense, emotionally exhausting and disturbing journey. This album is just disturbing. Although it has some cool grooves which cannot be disregarded and some memorable melodies, the few aren't enough to make up for the whole. This is simply not good enough.

Maybe it's time to reevaluate. The Mars Volta has clearly become something that cannot be contained anymore, even by its own creators. Years ago, when Cedric and Omar saw that At the Drive-in is no longer fulfilling their artistic vision, they decided to call it quits and start over. Maybe it's time to do that again.

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Send comments to poetic-killer (BETA) | Report this review (#160245)
Posted Wednesday, January 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is an AMAZING release. It just goes to prove that the Mars Volta is perhaps the greatest modern prog band, with superb musicianship, excellent hooks, enormous erergy, and quite possibly THE most original sound in ALL current music. The weak spots on this album are very few, I only really think Cavalettas could be improved a tad. Other than that, this CD is truly brilliant, and I couldn't give this anything lower than a 5. Favorites include Metatron, Ilyena, Goliath, and Ouroborous, though every track is incredible. I actually got the iTunes version of this disc, and it came with 2 covers--a Soft Machine song called Memories and a Nick Drake tune called Things Behind the Sun--they certainly don't dissapoint either. Everything this band touches is gold, in my opinion.

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Send comments to Purplefloyd (BETA) | Report this review (#160273)
Posted Wednesday, January 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
russellk
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Bang!

'De-Loused' opened with a short introduction before pouring on the power. 'Frances' began with a longer introduction, then busted out 'Cygnus'. Amputechture took a full nine minutes before offering us a glimpse of the manic VOLTA. Ladies and Gentlemen, you do not have to wait a moment for 'The Bedlam in Goliath' to make a statement. It is full-on frenetic THE MARS VOLTA sonic abuse from the first bar: a maniacally grinning THOMAS PRIDGEN laying down extraordinarily complex and energetic drum patterns, funky bass rumbling and roaring with a million splintered guitar notes folded in, all overlaid by CEDRIC's high-pitched vocals.

And yet 'Aberinkula' is merely a mid-paced opener. With dual hooks of chorus (descending scales and CEDRIC's wails) and guitar motif, underpinned by outstanding bass lines, this astonishing track sets the table for the most ballsy, confident and powerful prog-rock statement in many years. Within a minute the album has you by the throat, and spits the words 'There's more to come' into your pale, frightened face.

Though it has a cover similar to that of 'Amputechture' (by the same artist), 'The Bedlam in Goliath' is nothing like its languid and occasionally overblown predecessor. This album reaches into funk and pulls astonishing bass lines into songs with, quite frankly, ridiculous frequency. Here's what I adore about this band: they condense a thousand incandescent ideas into each song, like a pack of schoolboy laboratory assistants let loose in the chemistry room at lunchtime. You find yourself hearing something new on the fiftieth, the hundredth listen. Not all the ideas work, but they're all fun.

'Metatron' ups the pace, integrating seamlessly with the opener. We have, in fact, a fourteen minute two-part opener, but wisely TMV have divided it in two. 'Ilyena' lays down a most gratifying funk groove, then rips it up in a variety of interesting ways. Hooks, hooks, there are dozens of them: check out the vocal line on this song. Actually, the songs on this album feel too short, a very good sign. I want them to go on and on. It's certainly true of 'Wax Simulacra', which seems in need of a digression or two, but the song has raw power, no doubt about it, courtesy of PRIDGEN and his machine-gun skins.

Actually, I'd go so far as to say this is JUAN ALDERETE's album. His bass lines, even more than PRIDGEN's outrageous drumming, are the rocks upon which this edifice is built.

'Goliath' beggars belief. I heard this track live early last year, in its earliest incarnation. I heard it on OMAR's solo album, and it sounded pretty good. Well, the bass line is still the same, but it has matured into a buck-toothed, saliva-dripping monster. This is new prog's '21st Century Schizoid Man': indeed, the bass line recalls KING CRIMSON's venerable song, as does the structure, with the free-form freakout mid-song in which the musicians remove every restraint and jam a brick against the accelerator. And the three minute funk/jam/gospel outro! Spine tingling. Instant classic.

'Torniquet Man' performs the same role as 'Asilos Magdalena' did on 'Amputechture', allowing us a short respite. Very short in this case. Then we're off again, into part two of TMV's 2008 occult house of horrors. I'm not entirely convinced by the stop-start patchwork of 'Cavalettas', which sounds like a dozen tunes in search of a home, but it's certainly pure MARS VOLTA. The slower, powerful blues of 'Agadez', with it's climactic LED ZEPPELIN moment halfway in, is followed by a four-pronged finish replete with sonic experimentation. 'Askepios' with its electrics and cinematic chords, the faux-metal guitar and compelling keyboards of 'Ourobouros', 'Soothsayer's Middle-eastern vibe, and the extraordinary screaming climax that is 'Conjugal Burns'. I listen, I gasp for air, I flop about like a fish on rocks. Please stop, I can't breathe.

There are bonus tracks. The Aust/NZ version I purchased has three, all covers. I'll listen to them closely some time. I'm sorry, I don't have the energy at the moment. I tell a lie: actually, 'Candy and a Currant Bun' is a good way of gauging how far THE MARS VOLTA have taken psychedelic rock since the simpler, gentler days of SYD BARRETT. A long, long way, apparently.

Reviewers will complain all the songs sound the same. I'd rather they didn't review albums like this until they've sorted out the songs in their minds. Live with it for a while before you tell us what it's like. These songs have real personality. Just give them time.

Look, music can be soothing, or beautiful, or contemplative. This isn't. This is the high energy of thrash punk melded with prog rock sensibilities, all towering conceit and immensity of vision. More than any other THE MARS VOLTA album, 'The Bedlam in Goliath' showcases the pure power this band has at its fingertips. It crushes. Eighty minutes of crushing. Relentless, merciless crushing. You don't want to be crushed, you step out of the record store. You want beauty, look elsewhere: there's no 'Televators' or 'Miranda' here.

I don't know if this is their best record. Ask me in a year. However, it is certainly pure five-star material, essential listening. Have no fear of purchasing this. Even if you hate it, listening to it will be an experience (check out the Guardian's review!). Isn't that what music is for?

I am astonished, scared, moved, angered and delighted by this record. Yes, they overdo it at times. Yes, it's a lot to take in at one, two or five listens. And yes, it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, the ouija board cover story notwithstanding. So what? That's what THE MARS VOLTA is for.

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Send comments to russellk (BETA) | Report this review (#160278)
Posted Thursday, January 31, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Relentless.

It's the first word that came to my mind after my first entire listening of this incredible, yet complex album. This album can be described as heavy, but I think intense is a much more adequate word. I had to catch my breath a few time. And in the end of this first hearing, I was pretty sure I was about to hate this album.

But so was my first impression of Amputechture. And now, a couple years later, it's one of my favourite TMV albums. So I gave Bedlam in Goliath another try and I played it another time, and then another one, and another one. For three days now, it's all I've been listening to. I had to take a few steps back and map out this apparent mess. This is something I like about TMV. It rewards its listener after a couple times. Their albums are intense and, above all, dense. And so is Bedlam in Goliath. I needed some time to understand what was going on.

This album is filled with heavy and complex guitar playing, reminiscent of De-Loused. I think along the obvious Fripp and punk music influences, I can hear some Zappa in the solos and guitar fills (listen to Goliath). It is also very funky at some point. The long guitar fizzling interludes between songs are gone, but you can find some of that inside a given song. I think it's put to better use there. The new drummer is awesome, but he does not play with dynamics much: it's all loud and fast. Bixler-Zavala never sang so high and there are some very strong melodies in there, much more than in previous TMV effort. My favourite addition to this is the manic, byzantine soprano saxophone à la Coltrane, which, I think, suits perfectly the TMV sound.

I think the best songs are Aberinkula, Ilyena, Wax Simulacra, Ouroboros and Soothsayer, the latter being, for one, the heaviest, and the other, the smoothest of the album. Ouroboros is the closest to heavy metal TMV ever got, but still, it's much more than that. There is an amazing strings section in Soothsayer, filled with middle-eastern influences, reminding me of some Led Zeppelin works.

There is no filler on this album, although I think Tourniquet Man is not their best short song ever and I prefer the rendition of Goliath you can find on Omar Rodriguez-Lopez's So Dice Bisonte, No Buffalo (named Rapid Fire Tollbooth). The new version is faster and heavier and there is less space for the soprano sax. It is still very good, but I guess it is a matter of personal taste.

All in all, Bedlam in Goliath is a very strong TMV album. It is still too soon to say, but I think it can become a classic hard prog album. However, since it won't appeal to everybody, I can't give it a 5-star rating. As a fan, I would, but I know too many people around me that can't stand TMV to do so (even if they are prog-rock fans, and some of those are free jazz, metal and punk enthusiasts). It is a hard one to swallow.

Still, a great record! My favourite so far in 2008.

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Send comments to Karbo (BETA) | Report this review (#160305)
Posted Thursday, January 31, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Now Now. This album just came out a couple days ago, and is far to complex to claim it has no melodies already. I just picked it up last night myself, and listened to it about 4 times. It certainly sounded like it had many complex layers of melodies that would definitely require some time, and commitment. As did their last album that I feel was terribly underated. This band not only reinvents themselves with each album, but seems to improve with each one. I think their first two albums were definitely complex, but a lot easier to get into than the Amputechture album. I was dissapointed with Frances at first, and then like all worthwhile music it took a while to hit me. When it did it knocked me on my ass. Amputechture came, and again, as if I totally lost my memory with the Frances experience, I was dissapointed. This turned out to be my favorite one by them yet. The fact that it's underated is making me feel like the band is becoming more original, and it's fans are looking for consistency in their sound. I can only believe, with my past experiences, I wont underestimate these guys this time. So although I only heard it 4 times I at least know it has plenty of replay. That's where this fans consistency bug is fullfilled. With their consistency to outdo themselves with some real refreshing music. I havent been this excited about the originality of a band since Genesis. Not that they sound like them in any way at all. Like all great music give it time, and you will reward yourself. It is definitely too early to be judging this album, but I trust they created something wonderful.

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Send comments to catdog12 (BETA) | Report this review (#160351)
Posted Thursday, January 31, 2008 | Review Permalink
Moatilliatta
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars They're back! While Amputecture has earned a very special place in my life and is certainly a near masterpiece, it was quite a difficult listen. Aside from a few segments, nothing clicked the first time around, and even the second time around for much of it. I would grow to love it, but couldn't help the feeling that it didn't stand up next to the two brilliant-beyond-words albums preceding it.

But with The Bedlam in Goliath, The Mars Volta have created a very fast-paced, aggressive yet both funky, melodic/memorable and powerful record that comes close to equaling De-Loused in the Comatorium and Frances the Mute. Thomas Pridgen's work is something to marvel at. This material suits him very well, though I really couldn't see him being able to play the less-is-more style of Jon Theodore (comparatively of course, as no one could say that Theodore's work was simple). Here, the music facilitates Pridgen's bombastic style perfectly. Cedric's vocals have a lot of effects throughout, which I'm not entirely fond of, but there are plenty of cleanly-sung melodic parts that are going to strike your soul with their beauty. Everyone else is on top of their game, and of course the sound is huge.

To quickly sum up the highs and lows of the album: the band is always their best when they're not trying to be as dissonant, cacophonic and inaccessible as possible. When the bass and drums lock into a groove, Cedric sings clean melodies and the rest of the band provides the rest, they achieve some of the most amazing moments of music history. Part of the reason that the recent works don't reach the heights of years past is due to the direction the band decided to take with Amputecture. Melodies are now more often buried by vocal effects or paired with often high-pitched (given that the root melody isn't the high one) and dissonant harmonies. And if that isn't the problem, it's that the songs are starting to sound a bit too fractured. The highest points of the album are Metatron, Goliath, Agadez, Ouroborous and Conjugal Burns. The only tracks that take some getting used to are "Tourniquet Man," which seems a bit undeveloped and has some almost repulsive vocal effects, then "Cavalettas," and "Askepios" which are very fractured, but each individual idea in each song is quite solid. I would hardly consider them bad tracks, though. After a few listens, you should appreciate them. The tracks not mentioned are all fantastic, but, if only to prevent my high point list from contained 75% of the record, don't reach the same climactic heights of those mentioned.

This album is amazing. It's long, but it feels as quick as De-Loused, which is 15 minutes shorter. No songs over 10 minutes long here; the songs are as short as 2:36 and as long as 9:32. It's a fresh output in all aspects for the group, and an absolutely mesmerizing one at that.

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Send comments to Moatilliatta (BETA) | Report this review (#160382)
Posted Thursday, January 31, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars It's noisy, it's heavy, it's fast and it's good I must say. Cedrick sings even highier than before, so those who don't like his falsetto should stay away from Goliath. On The Bedlam in Goliath you won't hear nothing new compared to the previous records. It's faster and more dynamic, but it's still the same Mars Volta as it was before. Some will propably say, that half of the songs on their new album are just a bunch of sick and pointless drum or gouitar solos. So what? That's what The Mars Volta is about.

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Send comments to Crowley (BETA) | Report this review (#160776)
Posted Monday, February 04, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars So here is number four. After being dissapointed by what I felt was a slightly underwhelming attempt in Amputechture, I didn't have the highest of expectations for the next Mars Volta experience. Fortunately, they've stepped up their game again and deliver a near relentless barrage of mussic on The Bedlam in Goliath. Here's how the songs stack up:

1. Aberinkula - The wall of sound begins. Overall this is just an average song. Inevitably I find myself wanting to listen to the next song Metatron, aka Aberinkula with balls. (6/10)

2. Metatron - The wall of sound continues. Like the previous song this one features some hard bass playing and drum work, but it seems to be played with more passion and has a more diverse range in sound. (810)

3. Ilyena - Woah. This is different. There's some nice drum patterns and some groovy bass work to go along with some awesome singing. This is one of the highlights of the album. (9/10)

4. Wax Simulacra - Imagine getting a nice square punch to the face. You have just listend to Wax Simulacra. (8/10)

5. Goliath - On this album TMV seem to be digging deep pack into there post-hardcore roots. They then mixed them with some form of math rock/metal and conjured up this beast. Goliath must have been huge judging by this song. (9/10)

6. Tourniquet Man - Well, they can't all be winners. Actually this one is quite the opposite. This song should have been billed as THE MARS VOLTA FEATURING LIMP BIZKIT as that's exactly what it sounds like. This would have been what Durst's version of Behind Blue Eyes would have been if he had decided to toggle a few nobs. (2/10)

7. Cavalettas - Odd, my speakers keep fading out every 2 minutes. Well, between the spaces are some pretty neat ideas. We see the post-hardcore roots showing through again, much to our delight. (7/10)

8. Agadez - Beneath the wierd sounds and Voltaness there lies a pop song here. It's great. (7/10)

9. Askepios - A little off beat wierdness on this song. An interesting stop-go segment in the beginning gives way to nice bass led segement that contains some of those trademark volta lyrics that seem to engrain themselves in your barain. Quality. (8/10)

10. \m/Ouroborous\m/- So I'm listening to this prog band called The Mars Volta one day and all of a sudden this metal song comes on. It's not one of those wussy emo nu-metal songs, but this friggin' awesome phsycadelic journey. Oh wait, same band. Epic. (10/10)

11. Soothsayer - This is the one song I can' get my head around. It's good and fits the tone of the album, but its just strange. It features some rather 'mysterious violin playing in eastern scales. (rating pending/10)

12. Conjugal Burns - Well, this is nice. Words cannot describe this song other than that it's one of those songs that gives closure. Actually amazing is another good one. The new drummer Prigden really shines here. There's several fills that might make Danny Carey cry. (10/10)

So how does this album stack up against the others? Well, it's easily better than Amputechture, being much more coheisive and whatnot. Still, it lacks the album feel that was so prevelant on Frances and De- Loused. There's a lot of music obn here, though, the vast majority of wich is great.

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Send comments to xenuwantsyou (BETA) | Report this review (#160968)
Posted Tuesday, February 05, 2008 | Review Permalink
JLocke
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars Just so bad.

This was the first The Mars Volta album I ever bought, and frankly, I was unimpressed. Everything about this record is just . . . not good, um, to say the very very very least.

It starts off with a brilliant, oh-so-original BLAST of relentless noise that made me feel like I was going to go insane after only three seconds of listening to it. Some people say that death metal growls and such make them nervouse, but oh boy, nothing compares to this piece of garbage. Thankfully I was able to give The Mars Volta another chance and listened to their first album, which was fantastic. It really makes me wonder . . . where and when did these guys go so wrong? This is nothing but sensless noise that never lets up. Frankly, it's just too much. Nothing makes me a nervous wreck more than a high-pitched singer who sounds like he's got a pole stuck up his ass, complete with annoyingly loud and obnoxious horns, and a brand-spanking new drummer who seems to think he is playing on Fallout Boy's latest stinky pile. All of these wonderful elements combined make for a monstrosity that seems to actually think of itself as a solid studio effort. All of the tracks run together without aim or reason, and the deafening horror of this salsa- on-a-stick idiocy makes me feel like I am in the chili's from hell listening to the house band.

As said earlier, The Mars Volta apparantly recruited a new drummer, and he is horrible, just like everything else about this record. The drummer they had on their first studio album was amazing and rythmical complete with plenty originality and flare, and this guy simply bashes away emotionlessly on his no doubt 'totally kick-ass' drumkit. How could these guys think this man is any good at his instrument?! At all?! Not to mention there is absolutely no room to breath to speak of, and any attempt at an 'ambience' section of any sort is simply the band garbling up the end of the songs with a synthesizer, no real creativity here. Not a real big surprise, either. And Omar's guitar work? Practically non-existant. Anything that could have potentially been good has been drowned out by the crap that is this free-jazz monster that The Mars Volta has created with this album. It's almost as if Cedric in all his wisdom came up with a fool- proof way of avoiding any good notes or composition whatsoever; as if he was determined for his latest record to fail on all levels. But guess what? Tons of people are buying it, tons of people are hailing at as the best prog album in the history of God. What is even progressive about this? It's just a loud, sloppy jazz-rock album with some salsa on top and a few synthed-up voices, nothing about this even remotely makes me think Prog.

Yes, from the ugly alblum cover to the even uglier music that is held within, nothing is good about this record. As far as I am concerned, I am not going to buy another new TMV album. I mean, I'll still try out their earlier stuff, as I enjoyed DE-LOUSED so much, but as of right now, The Mars Volta is no longer any good whatsoever. I nearly missed out on the great record that was DE-LOUSED simply because this one was so horrible. If TMV are aiming to lose pottentially new fans this way, they are succeeding with flying colors. If they are trying to create progressive masterpieces, then they have failed miserably, and the way things are looking, they will never do anything worth listening to again. THE BEDLAM IN GOLIATH makes that promise, as it is by far the worst prog album I have heard to date. It is a horrible, horrible, horrible, horrible album, and I would never recommend it to anyone.

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Send comments to JLocke (BETA) | Report this review (#160992)
Posted Tuesday, February 05, 2008 | Review Permalink
laplace
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars The Mars Volta have not significantly shifted in sound between albums, but in a display of democracy at work, fans who resented the noise and psyche content of the previous albums got their wish, as The Bedlam in Goliath rocks almost from start to finish. To this reviewer, that's a shame, because it gives the band too much time to fall into grooves, stretching the length of time between transitions to unbearable levels. You'd better like the number eight, because plenty of passages are repeated that many times in a row. Of course, plenty of bands thrive under these circumstances (think Magma for glory in reiteration) but somehow, most of the songs on this album seem unnaturally extended.

There's a relevant change; enter one Thomas Pridgen, an extraordinarily active, quick and robotic drummer who, on paper, sounds like a well-judged replacement for the previous, but perhaps blamelessly, is introduced at the same time as a relatively weak batch of songs that require a lot of effort to support. The kit is his department, so he translates this necessity into an array of quick, metal-wards fills that verge on the inappropriate at times. When the songwriting is good - Wax Simulacra, a perfectly-judged and bouncy single and Ouroboros, a powerful, eponymously-structural anthem that feels similar in spirit to the songs on Frances the Mute being the exceptional tracks this time around - he is perfect. I initially placed too much blame on his shoulders before the truth (or at least, my truth) occurred to me - point all accusations at the songs themselves!

Although structure is simplified a great deal compared to that of the previous two albums, other elements are exaggerated further still. Cedric's singing is, depending on how you look at it, more ethereal or more Prince-like than ever. During the segues in Goliath, his voice soars far into the emo-zone layer. The lyrics have neither become significantly more opaque nor syntactic, but you will hear them more often than ever. Yes, Omar's guitar tone can still be, ah, piercing, but the amount of soloing space seems a little reduced this time around - he must get his fill on his frequent solo releases. If you haven't actually heard the band (and this is always a mistake I make in my reviews), then do try the samples, but if you can't, try to imagine bizarro-punk Rush from another planet. We'll call this planet Tourniquet, and you pronounce the trailing T, because the natives find it extremely difficult to learn human languages, especially English and Spanish.

Being that the most well-written and compact songs rein in the band enough to make them spectacular, it follows that the longest songs on Bedlam are the weakest. Metatron is a rock-groove-athon which showcases the first of many stumbling-block signatures (could these be the traps for the audience they mentioned in their interviews?) and I have a criticism concerning these - they're not all that surprising if you play them eight times in a row. I know that that's not a particularly insightful observation but it's one I feel that somebody should make. Another quirk of the album that fades quickly in merit (and will especially irritate fans of Frances the Mute) is the way that all the heavy songs end suddenly with little fanfare, instead collapsing straight into the next - it's as if Omar & co. listened to their first two albums and decided that they sounded too pretentious, when they're so very good at that. Next comes Goliath which, as has been mentioned in our forums, is akin to the second coming of Rage Against the Machine and to my ears, that's no unqualified compliment. Soothsayer, at least, has a spicily unconventional choice of instruments along with a hazy, alternate-history-retro feel, but the song is still a huge jammy mess. Luckily, it's an endearing mess.

Cavelettas, which gets a scathing paragraph of its own, is so positioned and proportioned as to be the linchpin of the album but, well, I can't really hesitate to call it the worst Volta moment so far, as it is the song where the gaps between exciting moments are so stark. You could almost call it the hardcore Tales from Topographic Oceans. If I complained about the Bedlam rule of eight before, then here's eight squared. It, in fact, does the same thing over and over again to the point where you can no longer ignore the truly skewed lyrics. To me, the song has a worse demand to reward ratio than the most arcane and inadequately-captured RIO improv. Not to put too fine a point on it, I don't really like this song very much.

The Mars Volta represent the bleeding edge of progressive rock to many, but with this album I'm afraid they're coasting somewhat. A resurgence in ideas (along with a little extra time between studio releases on the road to recovery) notwithstanding, I'll look to the band for a few great songs an album and add them to a compilation of my own. As for you, do investigate this album if you're a progger with a background in hard-rock or emocore, or if you value tightness, consistency and musicianship above all - every member of the band is uncommonly skilled - or lastly if you're a dinosaur trying to stay in touch with modern music; despite my unfavourable review, it may suit you in exactly the way it doesn't suit me. Please could you bring back the noise?

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Send comments to laplace (BETA) | Report this review (#161085)
Posted Wednesday, February 06, 2008 | Review Permalink
jarhead12343@
5 stars The Mars Volta have always been one of the leaders in modern progressive rock. From their first album De-Loused in the Comatorium to The Bedlam in Goliath, the Mars Volta have created a unique sound unlike others. This album is very good musically with the highlights being Cedric Bixler-Zavala's amazing vocals, Omar Rodríguez-López great guitar. The big suprise of this album is the great drumming from new drummer Thomas Pridgen. Drumming on tracks like Ouroboros and Wax Simulacra show why he is a great addition to this band. Some other stan dout tracks are goliath,ilyena and Soothsayer.Imo this is their second best album after De-Loused, closely followed by Frances the mute and finally Amputechture. All in all this is a great album and should not be missed by any fan of progressive rock.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#161108)
Posted Wednesday, February 06, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars My first listen to the Mars Volta was this album that was introduced to me by a friend.

We were listening to it in a car (what a nice place to blast the tunes) and I have to say I was stirred and shaken by the huge amounts of noise the tracks made. I went home and listened to the rest of the album to review upon.

The first thing I noticed is that most of the songs don't really have a clear meaning, some are taken from biblical terms and others from complex meanings. Anyways, onto the review.

Overall, the start of this album seemed very messy and unorthodox, specially with the use of odd chords, time signatures and vocals. That said, the album didn't really change much from the messy sound, a series of completely experimental, unique sound went through the album. Not necessarily bad, but after awhile....I started getting a headache. Songs seemed to change time signatures a lot, I think I heard a dozen time changes throughout the album....a nice addition but in musical sense...it was a bit too overused....

The Bedlam in Goliath showed some nice things too, a nice experimentation with the afro-latin sounds that they are known for, however, these styles were a bit random at times. The group is very talented, despite the distortion and disorder you can truly hear that they're a well founded technical group with talent......the question is....why did they made their songs too messy? At times, the music was not very pleasing, although very technical....not very nice to the ear.

Bass and Guitar throughout the album was satisfactory, technical riffs here and there and a good work by the bassist Juan Alderete, my favorite being at the outro for the song Ilyena. Drums and percussion, a little repetitive but good....I've heard they changed drummers and the the last one was better....I guess I need to listen to previous works from the band to really get a good listen.

I have to point out something here though...the vocal work...oh man...very....unique....not bad....but not good....just too radical and sharp.....distorted, synthesized, and a way over the top. Not so much for my liking due to the fact that the vocals didn't seem to blend well with the songs.

Overall, a collection of technical songs with lots of messy stuff to go around, lots of talent but needs work on making musicality and not just a lot of technical riffs.

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Send comments to ichigo14 (BETA) | Report this review (#161387)
Posted Saturday, February 09, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars A lot has been said about this album, both good and bad. After listening to the album for the 15th time all the way through, I must say I am very impressed. I will admit on first listen when I heard the first few tracks I was a little scared that the band had lost its flare. After two weeks of listening I came around and see it being one of the best albums of 2008! The whole album, while being 74 minutes, flys by you every time. The first album by the band that doesnt feature a track over 10 minutes, but no problems here. Instead of all the ambient noise sections on Frances and Amputechture, this album is 98% music. There are several standout tracks here, most notably: Ilyena, Goliath, Agagdez, and Soothsayer. Goliath is probably one of the best songs they have written to date. Its just so catchy! One of the few instances that a true progressive band can make danceable and catchy music! If you are hesitant about this band, check out their first album and move your way through their discography. They are trully one of the best bands around today! I have to say their first album is probably better overall. But this certainly deserves 4.5 stars.

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Send comments to Erpland316 (BETA) | Report this review (#161392)
Posted Saturday, February 09, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars As of 2005's brilliant Frances the Mute, The Mars Volta appeared to be the shining light in progressive rock and the band capable of carrying the torch deep into the new millenium. That was then, and this is now.

Unfortunately, The Bedlam in Goliath, much like last year's Systematic Chaos by Dream Theater, is everything wrong with progressive music. The songs (if you can call the tracks on here songs) are prog- for-the-sake-of-prog exercises in self-indulgence that are more concerned with vocal and guitar pyrotechnics than creating memorable pieces of music. While Frances the Mute showed the myriad of influences the Mars Volta draw from, The Bedlam in Goliath serves only to show that they have loads of talent but seem to have forgotten how to use it.

From overambitious opening number Aberinkula through overdramatic album closer Conjugal Burns, damn near everything on this album feels forced. There are moments of brilliance on just about every song, but they are so mired in the off-kilter time signatures and indecipherable shrieks of voice and instrument alike that you're unwilling to listen through the crap to find them. Unusual instruments are used completely annoyingly and are totally forced, whereas in the past TMV had a use for every second of time they occupied with their sound.

Maybe the saddest part of this album is the drastic decline in Cedric Bixler-Zavala's vocals. In the past he could channel equal parts soulful and frantic, but now he seems exclusively concerned with proving what high notes he can hit, and how well he knows how to use his effects processor. Alas, gone is the beauty of The Widow and the controlled chaos of L'via L'viaquez, replaced with a dog-whistle singing deliberately obtuse lyrics. And if you liked the Mars Volta's flirtation with Latin-flavored music, both in their Santana-esque interludes and Spanish lyrics, kiss that goodbye as well.

It is a sad day when one of the finest bands in prog puts out a piece of overly technical tripe with virtually no replay value, but I have to be honest in my reviews, and honesty requires me to recommend this album only to collectors and fans. Even then, meh. This will probably turn out to be my biggest disappointment of the year.

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Send comments to DethMaiden (BETA) | Report this review (#161409)
Posted Saturday, February 09, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars After Amputechture, I was no longer concerned about The Mars Volta. It typically takes 3 very good records for me to simply just accept a certain band for being great. I believe this album raises this band to legendary status. After 4 records of this calibur, TMV have more than proved themselves. While I would agree that some of the vocals are simply ridiculous, this record should hardly be scrutinized for being experimental and original in so many ways.

This record is relentlessly intense from beginning to end for nearly 80min. There are only three songs pushing the 8min mark, but the album is as progressive as anything you are likely to hear. The album is like the zenith of TMV's punk rock meets progressive rock meets jazz fusion. I saw them on this tour and to this day is by far the best show I have ever seen. This is a bold statement seeings that I saw King Crimson (my favorite band) on August 7th 2008 at a warm-up show for their 40th anniversary tour which ended up never happening. These guys live are like a modern 1970 era miles davis band with a level of agression, intensity, and raw energy that no band can match. The first and only live album from this band Scab Dates does not do this band justice as it was their first tour and although not a bad album, is nothing like this band was when I saw them. They played 8 songs for 3 1/2 hours and the majority of it was improvised. I believe some who have reviewed this album are confused. This record is screaming of the crossbreeding of the likes of 70's era King Crimson and Miles Davis, yet in a compleatly original and modern context. Simply put, this band is the most innovative rock band playing today who is charting near the top of the Billboard top 100. The music may be erratic, and trying much of the time but this is supposed to be. This is challanging music not for the faint of heart but for those who are looking for something they have yet to hear. THERE IS NO OTHER RECORD THAT SOUNDS ANYTHING LIKE THIS BY ANY ARTIST!!!

If some are interested in hearing another De-loused, then listen to De-loused. Bands like this should be praised for constantly pushing the envelope unlike acts such as Dream Theater. Dream theater has gradually regressed quite a bit since Train of Thought. Although Black Clouds and Silver Linings is a fairly good album, it is not really innovative in any way (comparative to DT's back catalogue). It is my belief that The Mars Volta will possibly never experience this because they are constantly trying to break new ground, not appeal to peoples best interests. There is a DVD that came with my copy of Systematic Chaos that explains how they talor there albums to their negative criticism from fans. The reason The Mars Volta are so great, has a lot to do with the fact that they make music with absolutely no consideration to adhere to critics or the publics intrests. Omar Rodriguez-Lopez's main goal is to find new methods of expression that are musically challenging as well as energizing.

If you are awed by early King Crimson, Vandergraff Generator, or the likes this stuff is no different in quality. Do yourself a favor and pick this album up because you will never here anything else quite like it. We are lucky to have The Mars Volta in this day and age, where popular music is at it's lowest point in history. With each new album, they are constantly breaking the top 10 with absolutely no singles other than The Widow to mention. The Bedlam In Goliath debuted at #3, their highest charting album ever. There is no other band this innovative today who is also popular to the general public (yes, I hear the Tool fans crying foul). I don't know how they are doing it but lets hope they keep doing it for a long time and maybe, just maybe popular music will be influenced by them enough to get us out of this horrible slump that began in the late 90's. They're our only saving grace.

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Send comments to massivecombine (BETA) | Report this review (#161573)
Posted Monday, February 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Rating: C+

The most obvious characteristic of The Mars Volta's latest offering is, of course, its very immediate start. This can be read one of two ways, at least initially. In a very positive way, it can suggest that they're more committed to maintaining the energy level for once, rather than dropping out into pointless spacey sections that are, well, pointless (as they did on each of the previous three CDs). Alternatively, and far more negatively, it could suggest that they really don't have much to say once you strip away the noise. As it happens, it's a little bit of both.

While the energy level on Bedlam in Goliath never relents, this is not always a positive. Getting rid of the spacey sections that often marred De-loused in the Comatorium and Frances the Mute (their best two, in my humble opinion) certainly helps, but it's done wisely, here. Consider that De-loused lasted a little over an hour, and, without the spacey portions, would probably have been fifty minutes. The Bedlam in Goliath is one and a half times as long, but, like De-loused, really only has fifty minutes of worthwhile ideas, and the constant energy, which doesn't allow the listener to breathe, gets tiring after such a long time. At least Frances the Mute, which was also of marathon length, had the slower "Miranda, That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore" to slow things down. All Bedlam has is the pointless, two-minute "Tourniquet Man." And then, of course, there's the problem that, on some tracks, particularly "Cavalettas," The Mars Volta really has nothing to say. That song in particular is truly a waste of nine minutes. While no other songs are so completely pointless, songs such as Ilyena and Goliath have sections where they really don't do much worthwhile.

All of that said, The Bedlam in Goliath is a very good CD. The opening 1-2 punch of "Aberinkula" and "Metatron" captures The Mars Volta at their very best musically, a musical outburst that kicks the album off with irresistible energy. After a much weaker midsection (with "Ilyena," "Goliath," "Tourniquet Man," and "Cavalettas" in a stretch of five songs), Bedlam picks up again with the excellent sequence of songs starting with "Agadez" and ending with "Soothsayer." "Agadez" sees the funk-metal roots of The Mars Volta finally shining through, and the result is marvelous. On the opposite side of the spectrum, "Soothsayer" has an excellent violin line that gels well with the only appearance of salsa music on the CD, and might well be my favorite song. The closer, "Conjugal Burns," is quite good as well, though it's weaker than the four that precede it.

When Bedlam is at its best, it's because The Mars Volta have managed to push forward their funk-metal roots at an appropriate loud volume, one that highlights their musical ideas. At its worst, Bedlam sees pointless noise used to disguise a startling lack of ideas. Beyond that, the same old complaints about The Mars Volta apply. Their vocals have been going downhill since De-loused and they're still not great here. The bigger problem, though, are appallingly awful lyrics. They were never good, but they've somehow gotten worse. They truly sound like Mad Libs played by choosing random words out a thesaurus and then picking their most obscure synonym, never mind whether it makes sense. How about the part in "Goliath" where the music stops and Cedric spits out something about feeling "a miscarriage coming on." Seriously? And, supposedly, Bedlam has a concept about a possessed Ouija board, which is almost as laughable as the lyrics themselves.

To tell the truth, The Bedlam in Goliath is a fine release, but if you didn't like The Mars Volta before, you probably won't like them now. If you are a Mars Volta fan, definitely check it out, but don't expect a CD along the lines of De-loused or Frances. After you've listened a few times, try taking out "Ilyena," "Goliath," "Tourniquet Man," and "Cavalettas," and you've got an excellent fifty-five-minute CD. While the first two are both fine songs, I don't feel they're necessary to the CD (except perhaps to the impossible concept), and, honestly, fifty-five minutes is enough. Recommended, but only to The Mars Volta's confirmed fans.

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Send comments to Pnoom! (BETA) | Report this review (#161717)
Posted Wednesday, February 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
Raff
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The Puerto Rican terrorists are at it again, dividing the prog world with their fourth album, released at the beginning of 2008 after having been made partly available on the Internet. As the previous reviews and the two or three threads dedicated to it will attest, The Bedlam in Goliath seems to polarise opinions in a way TMV's other albums did not. And with good reason indeed... While the quality of the musical offer is undeniable, it must also be said that this is not a record that thrives on subtlety or ease of approach. Unlike "Frances the Mute" or "Amputechture", which had their share of quieter, more reflective moments, TBiG presents itself like a dense, almost impenetrable wall of sound that can be extremely daunting to a first-time listener.

The Mars Volta are the legitimate heirs of everything we love about classic prog. They have got excess down to a fine art, with their esoteric song titles and stream-of-consciousness lyrics, their exotic, colourful artwork, the potpourri of diverse influences that characterises their music. They are brash, noisy, chaotic, puzzling, even annoying, but rarely elicit reactions of complete indifference. They are also probably the most authentically progressive of the modern bands, who are not afraid to use shock tactics in their compositional approach. However, they should learn how to harness their creative impulses, as well as the virtues of restraint.

It is indeed the lack of the aforementioned restraint that seems to have put some people off, and driven them to express very negative views of this record. TMV have gone for the throat here, throwing anything but the proverbial kitchen sink into the almost eighty minutes of the album, forgetting that sometimes less is more. For starters, the album is too long - but, unlike Frances the Mute, it lacks the moments of relative respite provided by the 'noises'. What we have here is 77 solid minutes of music, conducted at a consistently brisk, often frantic pace. It is a wonder how the band manage to sustain such high energy levels without getting tired - because, after a while, the average listener does. The twelve tracks merge into each other to the extent that it becomes difficult to distinguish between them without resorting to the lyrics. And then, those who are not too keen on Cedric's vocals are definitely out of luck here, because the sung parts overwhelm the instrumental ones.

That said, "The Bedlam in Goliath" does have moments of brilliance which remind us of the band's potential for greatness. The quality of the performances is consistently high, and new drummer Thomas Pridgen is probably the real star of the show. As good as Jon Theodore was, this is a real wizard of the skins, perfectly complemented by Juan Alderete's deft, funky bass lines. Cedric, who gets the lion's share here, proves that he can handle different vocal styles, and is definitely growing into a force to be reckoned with. And then there is Omar, the band's mastermind, an unlikely sort of guitar hero who shuns histrionics and ego-trips in order to hold the fabric of the music together. From a purely musical point of view, TMV are very much an ensemble, a mini-orchestra that Omar conducts according to his vision, producing a sound that is nevertheless very much a team effort.

Unlike their three previous albums, TBiG starts with a bang - opener "Aberinkula" hits the listener squarely in the face and never lets up, with Cedric's hysterical wailing and Omar's manic guitar work bolstered by Pridgen's insane drumming. "Ilyena" is a funky mid-tempo that, while not really sounding like anything like "The Widow" or "Televators", plays the role of the obligatory slow track. To these ears, "Goliath" is one of the best TMV compositions ever, full of wild time signature shifts, deranged drumming patterns and Cedric's snarling vocals - as well as distinctly audible keyboards. Other highlights are the lazy, groovy "Agadez", which is somehow reminiscent of Living Colour's take on funk-metal; the salsa-meets-Middle Eastern, violin-enhanced ride that is "Soothsayer"; and the jagged, psychedelic metal of "Ouroboros". Other tracks are not as memorable or successful, notably the patchy, overlong "Cavalettas" - while I find the single "Wax Simulacra" rather nondescript, and "Tourniquet Man" quite disposable. On the other hand, album closer "Conjugal Burns", though otherwise quite intriguing, would have benefited from being a tad shorter.

It could easily be said that, even more so than the band's previous albums, TBiG is something of an acquired taste. As we say in Italy, they have put a bit too much meat on the fire... However, TMV are still at the beginning of their career, and I am quite positive they are headed towards their full maturity. As to now, they are still in a kind of experimental mode - and, as we all know, experiments are not always completely successful. Anyway, as far as I am concerned, I have been playing TBiG regularly since I bought it over two weeks ago, and, while I'd never say it is the band's masterpiece, I consider it a very good, progressive album which will probably grow more and more on me with each listen. Therefore I will give it a four-star rating, though not without a word of caution. If you are new to the band, try listening to "De-loused..." first.

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Send comments to Raff (BETA) | Report this review (#161960)
Posted Saturday, February 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
Zitro
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars Oh man, what happened to them? I apologize for the 1-star rating, but even if the musicianship is competent, the music is simply unlistenable throughout most of the disc and it does not help that the album is as long as a Flower King album. Unlike the daring previous album and the debut, the harshness, high vocals, progressive elements and avant-garde go overboard in a way that it makes this album have the Mars Volta elements ruin the music rather than be what would attract me to the band in the first place. The album has a horrid raw production that hurts the music, the vocalist wails like a madman, sings usually terrible vocal melodies on most verses, and sometimes edits his voice in a way that makes me exit winamp.The progressive elements (such as song structure, time signatures and choice of tones) is so exaggerated and forced that they hurt the songs half the time.

I admit not all of it is bad. the opening track has some frenzied instrumentation that works in several spots, Goliath has a decent groove despite having a chorus that sounds very similar to previous album's refrains, and Soothsayer has a nice riff and finally good melodies, though the riff is repeated for 104 times if I counted correctly. Soothsayer is easily the most listenable tune in here and I actually enjoy listening to it as well as the very energetic opening track.

On the other hand, Metatron ruins a somewhat listenable beginning with some ugly vocals over painful guitar riffs for three minutes. the next track Ilyena starts and ends with unnmusical processed vocals sandwiching an unmelodic tune. Wax Simulacra is not among the worst offenders but it sounds too complicated to be enjoyable and the vocals are very irritating to me here. Tourniquet Man is probably the second worst song in here, starting with a listenable but poor ballad and transforming into some of the most painful stuff I ever heard: terrible processed vocals and random arrangements that don't sound right at all. However, the worst song is Cavalettas, starting with unmelodic and unpleasant uptempo rock, it segues without any transition whatsoever into a pathetic math-rock one-chord riff, hilariously bad sound effects, awful atonal instrumental arrangements and once again: terrible vocals. A different theme is played after a minute that is slightly less bad, but the hilariously bad math-rock riff reappears with equally bad accompaniments. The rest is very bad music to me, but at least that riff is not played again. Agadez is an unmelodic mess with unpleasant background synthesizers that bring no substance. Askepios is much worse, featuring cell phone interference noise, unpleasant dissonance, very bad melody-crafting, those horrid edited vocals, a laugh-inducing slow guitar solo that reminds me of kids at guitar center unable to play guitar, followed by an unintentionally funny guitar solo over an awkward King-Crimson style groove. Ouroborous is a failed attempt at making a good latin-influenced song. It is definitively their worst latin-influenced tune so far. the closing track strikes me as a track where only the chorus manages to be listenable. Not good at all.

Overall, be careful when buying this album. Even if you enjoy previous Mars Volta albums (I do like the debut and the 3rd studio album), this album seems to sacrifice the art that the band was presenting in order to sound progressive. They have lost a customer.

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Send comments to Zitro (BETA) | Report this review (#162161)
Posted Monday, February 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars When the album first appeared at this site I was quite curious about this new album by The Mars Volta. Would it come back to the forms like they created "Frances The Mute" with so many sound effects solo or a bit of structured music. I retained myself from purchasing the CD from the net hoping that there will be local pressing version. I was right - another week later I saw the CD was sold at local CD stores in my country, with practically affordable price. The first chance to listen to this album was through my laptop using Sennheiser PX-100 headphone system because at that time I was quite busy for Helloween (power metal rules!) live in Jakarta 22 February 2008. I was lucky listening to this album using excellent headphone so that all the subtleties of the music I could hear clearly through my ears. From the first spin, this album summarized "excellent" rating for my taste even though I found the vocal line was quite weird for normal listeners, I believe. From then I have been listening the album for more than 10 spins it has grown on me significantly everytime I spin the CD. I attempted to write some words about this album but my mind was full with the thoughts on how to make the Germany's power metal band "Helloween" would be a successful metal concert ever in Jakarta. Yeah it was! The show was great and I am now quite tired physically due to intense activities that I made during the concert because I was the host for the show.

So it's about time to visit this site and I saw again that this album still at the top-right side of this site. So I clicked and look at the reviews. I found the review by colleague collaborator Zitro sounded provocative to me and it stimulated me to write this review. The main intent of this write-up is not to defend about his opinion because as prog head I am fully aware that we have to accept differing views. And I do not want to waste my time selling the idea that this album is excellent while others' opinions do not count - nope! I do not mean that. However, I have to put myself as a prog reviewer who has been trying to perfect my listening skills and improving how to write prog reviews as informative as possible even for the albums that I do not have a personal interest. Simply put, I jut want to put things into perspective.

Having said so, it has never and should never be in my vocabulary for saying something like "what happen to people who say that this album is excellent" while actually I personally dislike the album. I think it's not fair to say say. Why? This is progressive world, my friends.. we are talking about music with a very wide spectrum and probably unlimited boundaries from jazz-influenced, pop-influenced, rock-influenced, avant-garde-influenced . you name it .to heavy prog which is in fact very hard to define. Things that you think is great for you, it's probably not the case with someone else and it's totally fine. People have their own tastes and opinion about the music they like or dislike. This is especially true for music that the songwriting has some sort of patterns and structures and there is solid basis to derive that the music has a harmony and melody that make some people enjoy it.

Secondly, I am in the school of thought of not comparing music from different styles or subgenre. Comparing The Mars Volta with The Flower Kings is like comparing Muse with Rush. How can you do that? The music is totally different in style and in fact subgenre. It is definitely not fair comparing them. In fact, even though I love The Flower Kings, I will not compare it with Yes or Genesis - bands that heavily influence The Flower Kings. Why? Each band has its own characteristics which only "taste" that can differentiate. So .. enjoy the music of The Flower Kings, Yes and Genesis separately and do not try to compare! It's a waste of time. If you want to compare it, just a matter of "taste" that you can use as a basis; and I believe your reason about liking or disliking the music. For this reason, I sometimes write review with this subheading Why Liking This Album? and Why You Are NOT Liking This Album? by trying to elaborate possible people's perceptions about this album. Fans of The flower Kings are probably not liking The Mars Volta albums and vice versa, even though this is not always the case. Remember, music is emotion!

Let's have a look on this album.

Why Liking This Album?

Cohesive. In my opinion this album offers music played by competent musicians that demonstrate their skills appropriately in each song in the album that has a cohesive whole musically. The story line of "The Bedlam in Goliath" has something to do with a haunted Ouija board and a demonic force demanding to be reincarnated, and the music would still trip up anyone trying to clap along. But the Mars Volta has stopped trying to trump the complexity of its previous efforts by reducing unnecessary sound effects that tend to make us got bored and impatient. Without having to know the story, the music has already projected a flow that sounds like a concept album from the stream of music they offer. From the opening track "Aberinkula" (5:47) which starts in high energy, it flows seamlessly to "Metatron" (8:13), "Ilyena" (5:38) and it flows nicely right towards the concluding track "Conjugal Burns" (6:36) in cohesive way.

Energetic. Have you ever tried a metal band System of A Down? The music is quiet energetic and heavy in nature. If you get used to it, then you would probably like this album by The Mars Volta. Of course, the music between the two is different in style but on energetic side, they are alike. In fact, I thought (at first listen), the music of "The Bedlam in Goliath" is a bit abrasive, but I enjoy listening the album in its entirety. The band seems like not giving a compromise to the listeners that right from the first track "Aberinkula" (5:47) the music has already been so energetic and heavy even from the intro part which is then continued seamlessly with "Metatron" (8:13) which is in the same style with previous track. I have problem, actually, with the tiny vocal line but I tried myself to see from different view that the band wants to create its unique sound through unique singing line. The second track is very progressive in nature considering many changes in style as well as tempo.

"Ilyena" (5:38) is one of my favorites as it flows nicely with excellent rhythm section comprising dynamic bass lines and stunning guitar rhythm and fills. The uniqueness of how the guitar is played has made this song interesting, especially combined with the percussion work. The bridge "Wax Simulacra" (2:41) brings nicely to another excellent track "Goliath" (7:17) which has dialogue style on vocal department. "Goliath" is probably my best favorite track from this album because I like the simple arrangement and the melody, plus the singing style. I also love the upbeat tempo of the music. The flow of the music is so stunning, especially during interlude with guitar solo while drums and bass play dynamically. It's really cool ..

Sudden Breaks. That's why I refer you to System of A Down which the music has so many breaks, so is the case with The Mars Volta "The Bedlam in Goliath". After the heavy music of "Goliath" the music suddenly stops and it continues seamlessly with silent break through "Tourniquet Man" (2:41) which serves as a nice break to another uplifting "Cavalettas" (9:35) which the intro reminds me to King Crimson's "The Power to Believe" album. "Agadez" (6:45) brings the music into a more accessible part where the tempo is quite medium even though the singing style is energetic in nature. "Askepios" (6:33) is quite avant-garde in approach as it starts with a bit complex arrangements with dynamic drumming.

The best break for me is at the beginning of the "Soothsayer" (9:10) where it starts with an ambient which has background of Muslim Prayer's Call, or we call it as adzan, containing "Allah is Great. Allah is Great" because I am a muslim. This ambient has created a very deep experience with me enjoying this sort of background especially when it's combined with eastern (middle-east) style of violin / cello work. Oh my God .. it's so wonderful and so peaceful. As far as my knowledge there is quite rare that prog bands use adzan as music ambience or background. I remember that ARENA "Pride" has adzan component in its music. The music of "Soothsayer" is quite peaceful and it moves in mellow style with nice melody and stunning guitar, sax and violin / cello works.

Excellent Closing. The album concludes beautifully with "Conjugal Burns" (6:36) in unique style, nice melody and great music. I like the way vocal sings the lyrics, especially with the energy he has put in singing and the tempo changes. Style-wise this song definitely sounds like "the final chapter" of the story-line!

Why You Are Not Liking This Album?

I fully understand if you cannot accept the music of The Bedlam in Goliath, especially if you get used to pure melodic music in relatively slow to medium tempo like neo progressive and symphonic prog. If you cannot enjoy the heavy side of progressive music, purchasing this album would be a waste, I think. This is note generally truth statement because, as you know by now, that I basically love the symphonic part of prog - how come I love this The Bedlam in Goliath? Simple. I push myself - sometimes very hard - to enjoy the music that basically not my cup of tea by trying to understand how the music was being composed, combining the notes as well as musical arrangement together.

But . if as a matter of fact you can enjoy progressive metal or metal music like System of A Down or Trivium, understanding the music of The Mars Volta is not gonna be a big challenge for you.

Conclusion

Having discussed with you about how I approach my review about music - especially that I am not familiar with - and my lengthy reasons about this album, I think this album deserves minimum a four star rating due to its cohesiveness, energy and its balanced combination with silent breaks. The guys in the band are geniuses because the music is not something alike to another band. Overall star is 4.5 stars. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#162415)
Posted Saturday, February 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars The emotion put into this record as always for sure from the Mars, a very essential Frank Zappa sound in Aberinkula; impeccable lyrics that astonish anyone, I hope that this legendary band can stay for a lot more with records like because the quality they put in their records had a very notable difference in each one of them, specially in Cedric's lines; The commercialization doesn't matter at all cause as I say it again the quality is very impressive.

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Send comments to freeworldmind (BETA) | Report this review (#163356)
Posted Friday, March 07, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog-jester
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Someone has finally returned them their vitamines!

After two questionable albums like FtM and Ampu (sorry for prog slang!) TMV cut their songs to satisfying listenable length like on their debut and dropped some nice tunes in them -even catchy dare I say! Tracks like ''Ilyena'', ''Aberinkula'', ''Goliath'' and some bits of other tracks may serve as a good example for beginners in experimental composing. TMV won't jump over their heads with this release, their debut is still the most captivating album of them (at least for me), but ''Bedlam...'' is no way a mediocre album, it's just less balanced and too uneven. ''Wax Simulacra'' is worst choise for single ever made in Prog, and ''Soothsayer'' based around one oriental riff lasts for criminally too long 9 minutes (where's your diversity here, Omar & Cedric?). Anyway, this album brings some hopes for a better continuation (or should I say a sequel?), and I won't tag TMV as the band that WAS once great. They still do kick some serious...thing :) Recommended!

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Send comments to Prog-jester (BETA) | Report this review (#163613)
Posted Monday, March 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars The rating would be 4 and half if that were possible.

To be perfectly honest, I cannot understand why so many people are adversely critical to the many excellent sounds of The Mars Volta. It seems like, with the exception of their debut, each of the Volta albums has been the target of some animosity from prog fans and general listeners alike. So for the purpose of context, let me first of all tell you this: I think De-Loused (the debut) is their weakest album. It's a great album, to be sure, but they have only grown in leaps and bounds since its release.

I won't dip into a track-by-track. I'll just talk a little about the main ingredient that this album exhudes: pure power. Also I'll relate a few of the things that are just a little different on this album compared to their previous releases.

On this latest venture into to the mania that is The Mars Volta, the boys have really outdone themselves in terms of pure energy. You can feel the awesome power of this album just dripping out of every track, and most of the time you can't help but groove on it. This is thanks, in no small part, to the excellent new drummer Thomas Pridgen. Make no mistake, I'm a huge fan of Jon Theodore, and I thought replacing him in this particular band would be an insurmountable task. Well, how wrong I was. Pridgen may lack the precision and general cohesion of his predecessor, but it all comes back to that same word: energy. Pridgen sits on his stool, hitting every song on the album with a shot full of steroids to the ass. This guy just won't QUIT. It sounds almost as though he's being paid based on how many times he can hit the skins, and the result is just an awesome display of sonic drumming that will have you grooving around before you've even had time to digest the rest of the songs. But don't be fooled, its not just chaos. It's variety, and there is a less than subtle difference. Pridgen breaks out the right beats for the right songs, and he manages to sound in sync with the band, even when the album wants to break down into bedlam (excuse the pun).

The rest of the band performs excellently, aswell. I think in particular, the guitar sound benefits from the inclusion of BOTH Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and John Frusciante on this studio album. Previously, their first two albums had featured just Omar, while their third outing Amputecture featured only Frusciante. Here you get the best of both worlds, the awesome, reckless rock and roll assault of Rodriguez Lopez combined with the more seasoned, calculated wail of Frusciante's guitar. I won't go into specifics on the rest of the band here, but suffice to say that they are all in fine form and in a testament to the musicians and to Omar's bombastic arrangements themselves, each member gets their chance to shine and be noticed.

I'm not going to out right say this is my favourite Volta album. That choice is a little too difficult for me, as I really do love this band, so I'll just say this. Don't short change yourself on this album, spin it at least 5 times before you make your judgement. I know that sounds a little crazy, but just go ahead and trust me. Even with all my love for the Volta, I considered this to be a too-brash, too-damn-loud-for-too-long album when I first heard it. After 4 or 5 spins though, something magical happened in my brain and I've never looked back.

I guess genius just takes a while to digest. And all of you truly ardent prog fans already know that. After all, which album, of ALL the great progressive rock artists of all time, actually revealed all its secrets and wonders on the first listen? If you asked me, the answer would be NONE.

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Send comments to Wangus-X (BETA) | Report this review (#163715)
Posted Tuesday, March 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Well... it had to happen eventually. No group can sustain the volcanic creative potential Mars Volta displayed on their 3 previous albums forever, and after many listens I can sum up my experience with Bedlam as: it might have been worse.

The problem is the albums general lack of direction and antics for the sake of antics. While not quite as big a blunder as Dream Theatre's Systematic Chaos-- Bedlam shows us what happens when an incredibly talented group of musicians forget what to do with their skills. Almost all of the songs on this album are loud, unsubtle, and soulessly complex-- not to mention repetative. I challenge the listener to remember any melodies or hooks about these tunes; you may really dig Rodriguez's frantic jams when they happen, but aren't anything new. And don't get me started on the album's ending! Yuck!

Worst of all, is Zavala's voice which is completely uninspired-- before I didn't have any idea what he was talking about, but at least I got into it... I couldn't care less what he's shrieking about now; he's just annoying here. That falsetto has got to go.

As someone who explodes with euphoria when I listen to the band's other albums, I have hope they'll get back on track. Maybe they should have taken more time to focus their ideas after the stellar Amputecture? At any rate, do yourself a favor and listen to Frances the Mute again.

Songwriting: 2 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 2 Style/Emotion/Replay: 1

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Send comments to Prog Leviathan (BETA) | Report this review (#164467)
Posted Thursday, March 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Oh no. At first listen it not possible to sustain. But if You start quiet on headphone, You can discover - what a unsurpassable this album is. Yes it is not stupid right prog. It is prog in total absurd, and this is that quality, why this album is masterpiece. It is new area of prog music - fast, ultra, dense, bloodyear sound. If You cant it endure, You not ready for new prog area.

This must have anyone proger, even if dislike, like example - progrock music high point absurd.

But I like it, i feel tance.

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Send comments to Clash (BETA) | Report this review (#164471)
Posted Thursday, March 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars The Mars Volta has established a whole new genre of music. God forbid I try and name it for you; but screw God, I'm gonna give it a shot anyway. A lot of tags that get thrown around in discussions of The Mars Volta include jazz, metal, punk, prog, and latin... the band definitely encompasses all of them. Many people have seen or heard the term post-prog, and if there was such a thing, TMV would be it - they mix the sensibilities of yesterday with the energy of tomorrow. While I find De-loused in the Comatorium to be a better example of this definition, The Bedlam of Goliath has its share of convincing moments.

Why do I consider The Bedlam in Goliath a masterpiece? Because it takes post-prog and turns up the heaviness and free improvisation to a maximum. This album is like a roller coaster - it flings you around to make sure you feel the G-forces, sends you into vertical drops and massive corkscrews, and ultimately sets you back down at the end wondering who the hell was crazy enough to invent something so fun. The compositions (all by Omar A. Rodriguez-Lopez, the guitarist) really showcases his abilities on this one! While the music itself is nothing like classic symphonic prog, the arrangements are just as good. The form isn't just your typical ABA or ABABCAB... while the different musical sections have obvious boundaries, they keep evolving and repeat only when necessary. This attention to form is better than some of Rodriguez-Lopez's previous work with TMV, such as Frances the Mute or Amputechture. I personally believe that Rick Rubin was the reason for De-Loused's success, and on TBiG, Rodriguez-Lopez has finally realized that concise composing pays off.

Aberinkula is a great song to open this album. Unlike previous outings, it starts high-energy without any kind of ambient buildup. My favorite section of this song is the coda, where we get three several improvised sax solos and a brilliant melody line played by both Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. This section builds in energy until we come to the chorus of Metatron. I really like this song because TMV truly messes with your sense of the downbeat in several sections - I'm not even sure what time signature some of this stuff is in.

Ilyena is the funkiest and catchiest of the tracks on this album. Good single material. Yet it doesn't get on my nerves like previous TMV singles (The Widow in particular). This is one of those songs where Rodriguez-Lopez gets the form exactly right. It has three distinct sections (beginning, middle, and end) and none of them drag on for too long. Wax Simulacra was the first single from this album and it's also pretty good. I really dig the chorus, which is in 11 - something most people hearing it on the radio wouldn't guess. I call that clever writing on Omar's part.

Goliath is an amazing song. The beginning starts with a very heavy Zeppelin-esque vibe, but the treat is the omega coda (as this section was dubbed by many TMV fans). This is a very fast-paced jam with some great solos from many of the band members and a really stunning performance by Cedric Bixler-Zavala. The next track, Tourniquet Man, is the song I like the least on this album. While many people have the same opinion because they find it radio-friendly and too soft, I dislike it for another reason - the main chord progression is unmelodic, and not in the spicy avant-garde sense but more the lazy guitarist sense. Not much happens in this song and it's the only one on this album I can skip over without feeling like I'm losing any part of the concept.

Cavalettas isn't TMV's best song either, but it does a whole hell of a lot better than Tourniquet Man. The energy starts nicely in this song and there's some really stellar punk stylings in addition to some weird and dissonant jamming. The song suffers from starting-stopping syndrome - just as it seems to get going, it dwindles down to ambient bull-sh!t (a word I use because it's the most accurate description). It does this about three times. It's worth sticking through this track, however, for the nice acoustic piano work at the end by Ikey Owens - he does a great job. Agadez is a pretty catchy number and has a latin feel during the bridge which TMV does exactly right. This is one of those songs that makes me a TMV fan.

Akepios starts out pretty strangely, and I had to listen to it a few times to get used to the beginning... but it's worth putting up with what sounds strange to finally receive the blessing of understanding. The end, which is heavier, is perhaps the most exemplary of what TMV is all about - uncompromising awesomeness. The bass is funky, the guitar is heavy, the drums are spastic, and the beat is groovier than Elvis. I suppose the same could be said for Ouroboros. Cedric really turns up the musical-theater attitude in this one, which goes great with the heavy guitar playing and fancy drumming. This one is also pretty latin in feel, and I'm impressed every time I listen to it.

Then comes Soothsayer, starting with a very cute middle-eastern sounding string melody that continues throughout the entire song. This piece is all about the build of energy and the release of energy - there is a constant soundscape beneath the repetitive but constantly building instrumental parts. I love the sampled choir at the end, it really lends to the atmosphere of this song. The closer, Conjugal Burns, reminds me of the ballad Concertina from Tremulant EP, somehow... maybe mixed with Cassandra Gemini from Frances the Mute. This is another very well-composed piece. My only criticism is this odd lyric - [i]my penis can rip through the very fabric of time[/i]. Bixler-Zavala is so talented at coming up with great symbols and metaphors... you think he could have found a more striking euphemism for the word penis. But I digress. Besides, if one can't handle a little vulgarity in their music, they're closing their mind to a lot of great stuff out there.

This is an exemplary work of The Mars Volta and way more entertaining than Frances the Mute or Amputechture, and it manages to push the boundaries of modern heavy prog by borrowing from plenty of different genres. I would give it around a 4.5 out of 5, rounded up to 5 stars because you won't be able to find any similar album released before this one, even from TMV's own discography. A must-have in the collection of any progger.

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Send comments to Brubbrub (BETA) | Report this review (#164479)
Posted Thursday, March 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
sleeper
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Over the last six years The Mars Volta have become one of the leading lights of modern progressive rock, tacking their influences from many of the classic bands, as well as a few very none prog bands whilst sounding completely unique. This, their fourth album, is quite simply the bands crowning achievement, the first time they have been able to top the performance on the debut album, De-Loused in the Comatorium. Gone are the long epics like Miranda that Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore and Tetragramation, to be replaced with shorter, more concise, songs that still have enough time to develop, and then shift, musical themes. This album hits hard with fiery energy from the start of Aberinkula and forces the listener to hold on for dear life for its entire length, not that it ever gives you any reason to consider letting go. A fast paced and high energy album, the only real slow downs are the tortured Tourniquet Man and the almost relaxing Soothsayer. This is the first album of theirs that I can honestly say has no weak parts to it, everything is focused to squeeze everything out of the ideas on display without ever lingering long enough to divulge into needles noodling, the band has clearly taken that step back to the edge that they had moved from in Amputechture. Another positive from the condensing of songs is that they no longer have this disjointed jump in dynamic and style mid way through a song, something that marred the longer songs on Amputechture. The Bedlam in Goliath isn't just The Mars Volta's best album to date, its one of the most accomplished albums in my collection.

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Send comments to sleeper (BETA) | Report this review (#165189)
Posted Thursday, March 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
The Rain Man
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'The Mars Volta' return with their 4th album, 'The Bedlam in Goliath'. Like their previous releases there is a story behind the album and if you have a spare hour, and I do mean an hour, you can read the full thing on their website. Basically its all about a Ouija board Omar bought in Israel. Bad things began to happen and they all thought the board was cursed and in order to get rid of the curse they had to bury it. The question is did this make or break the output on the record? Well here is my take on things.

The general feel of the album is a kind of heavy punky prog. Think back to all the heaviest parts from previous albums. Those parts make up the majority of the record this time round. Therefore I would say compared to previous albums where they covered a wide range of sounds, mixing quiet and loud parts creating and also having different styles of songs. This album focuses more on the one style and that style is predominantly loud. The irony of about this is that Cedric and Omar left 'At the drive-in' because the other members wanted to go down the punk/rock/pop route while Omar and Cedric wanted go in a more progressive/experimental direction. With 'Bedlam', it's like they made it to show how far they have come musically since 'At the Drive-in'. They can still do the punkier rock songs, but now they are a lot more polished and expansive than before. Even though it's a heavier record, Cedric does no resort to his old At the Drive-in days where he shouted the lyrics. The vocals are brilliant because the bursts occur a lot more often throughout this album. I just wait with great anticipation for the next vocal explosion to occur.

I would go as far as saying this is MV's most accessible album to date. A big statement I know and one in which would lead many of my friends to laugh a lot as they really don't think they are capable of making an accessible album! But the way I look at it is all the tracks have the same feel to them and relatively speaking it is easier listening than many of the songs on previous albums. Moreover, on each of the previous albums there have always been parts which are weird and take a long time to make any sense. However there are not really any parts like that on 'Bedlam'. While I don't think this album will bring in any new fans as it still has 'The Mars Volta' sound all over it; I think it may actually put off older fans who fell in love with the band due to the experimentation (weirdness) and pushing the boundaries of their music through the variety in their sound. The other albums usually took me at least 20 listens to understand and I use to relish the challenge of 'getting it'. This album took me about 5 listens and if it was a computer game this would be MV on easy mode. I think the album would have been received brilliantly if this was their debut as compared to ATDI it's a big step up and would have acted as a great transitional record between the two bands. But when you compare 'Bedlam' to the previous 3 albums the quality is there, but in terms of progression and experimentation it feels like a step back. In saying that it is just that even though it was easier 'to get'; you will find yourself listening to it just as much, if not more than the other albums.

The main highlights of the album for me are tracks 'Metatron', 'Goliath', 'Agadez', and bonus track; 'Candy and a current bun'. 'Metatron' feels like a continuation from track 1; Aberinkula which acts as a great builder/introduction. Cedric instantly kicks off 'Meta' screeching the vocals "Maybe I'll break down" oozing passion and charisma. 'Goliath' has got my favourite riff on the album. Furthermore Omar's solos on this track are edgy and frantic which really does some up the song. Most notably around the 4 minute 30 seconds mark and again at 6 minutes 40 seconds where the track seems to go into orbit as Cedric's vocals go into hyper mode. 'Agadez' is underpinned by a funky bass line delivered by the one and only Juan Alderete. When I first heard 'Candy and a current bun' I thought it sounded like a proper old school punk track. Funnily enough I later found out it actually was! It is a cover of the early Pink Floyd song. Cedric changes his vocal style here to one I can't recall him doing before. Each lyric is delivered purposely and precisely with a swagger attached. There is a funky keyboard part which acts as great closer to the album. I have since listened to the original and have to say that TMV make the original seem very ordinary and pedestrian. 'Ilyena' and 'Tourniquet Man' are the slow chill out songs on the album. However someone didn't tell that to new drummer Thomas Pridgen as he still drums at the same ferocity as the other tracks. This was clearly deliberate though as it does work a treat.

Overall, 'Bedlam' is a great album. How a band can make an album with 13 tracks on it lasting 78 minutes feel like mainstream punk/rock/pop/prog record; only TMV know. They are genius, they are not going to go away and they are not capable of rehashing the same three chords on every album. These are extremely talented musicians with the creative force that make them one of the most fresh and exciting prog bands on the planet. I'm looking forward to their next album already.

PS. - Just a warning for people who return to listening to this album after a break from it. Do not say 'I m going 'Back to Bedlam'', as people may laugh at you and you may lose all music credibility you ever had as 'Back to Bedlam is an album by James Blunt. Don't say I didn't warn you!

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Send comments to The Rain Man (BETA) | Report this review (#165259)
Posted Friday, March 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
atb8391@fuse.
5 stars Not only is this the best release so far this year, but one of the best, most creative modern albums I've heard so far this decade. And not only that either, but it's the Mars Volta's best album.

Be forewarned, however, this album is not for the faint of heart. The dynamics are intense and be prepared for quite a rocking album. This isn't your typical rocking album either, but it is full of absolutely stellar instrumentation, Cedric's powerful falsetto vocals, and everyone is on the top of their game instrumentally.

The style is the epitome of the Mars Volta sound. If you've heard any of the previous two Mars Volta albums and were underwhelmed by the amount of material in the lengths, no worries here! Every second is jampacked with innovative music, and again, this isn't for someone who is looking for your typical easy-going Beatles or Elton John CDs. Influences range from jazz and latin rhythms, avant-garde and vocalizer experimentation, but most of all, hardcore experimental psychedelic-tinged ROCK!!!

For any fan of modern or older rock who is willing to give anything a try, I extremely recommend this. Just be prepared for your subwoofer to explode!

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#165501)
Posted Tuesday, April 01, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars woooooow!!!

one of the bests bands ever the mars volta creates a new style and every single album is totaly diferent is like jump to another style in every album. The Bedlam In Goliath album isnt the best album of the mars volta but is the secon one very strong guitars fast drums and high vocals taked to another level,in this album we hear less experimentation les psycodelic prog music..this is more like hard prog now.

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Send comments to criarpo (BETA) | Report this review (#165594)
Posted Thursday, April 03, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well finally we have a true Masterpiece in the scene!

I can't believe how this band twisted their sound so much, I remember a younger me buying De-Loused and going nuts about it...it was a really fresh album and I knew that particular CD was going to hit my brain for years to come...then Frances the Mute came out and I thought well...ok...I was expecting much.....then I bought Amputechture and I ended selling my copy to a friend...I thought it was totally over.

but then they release The Bedlam In Goliath...a strong album even from the name, this piece is a radical twist from their cheesy lines and spacey copy-pasted signatures to a powerful musical explosion, this album is just non-stop heavy music, crafted for the hard ears out there...

Of course there will be some individuals who won't be able to stand this kind of chaotic blasts, but that's where The Bedlam... becomes a masterpiece, is not an album that everyone will understand, many people will actually hate the fact that the music is even gloomy and dark instead of just spastic and melodious...but most people hated Carlos Santana back in the days and they said it was music for satan lovers...now he's even praised for his work.

I can see people giving this album a cult tag in a few years, once we finally learn to digest interesting and heavy music that is.

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Send comments to Herzebeth (BETA) | Report this review (#165918)
Posted Sunday, April 06, 2008 | Review Permalink
TRoTZ
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Mars Volta is responsible for one of the most original sonorities of the first decade of the XXI century. In 2001, their first album brought a surprising blend of progressive and psychedelic rock with punk and Latin vibes, in their second (and probably their best) they continued further their progressive rock roots and eclectic musicianship with a more matured work. Although their third was considered by many a step back, The Bedlam in Goliath brought back the band's creative vein, once more progressive and experimental. Cedric's voice is increasingly peculiar and high-pitched (and again with many exquisite experimentations), which can annoy many listeners. And so we can say about their attitude towards music and composition, increasingly more disconnected about every opinion and consideration not their own, particularly the fans (which I won't say it could not result in the most positive things).

This is emphasized on the opener Aberinkula, even so one of the least surprising tracks of the album, starting the album pounding with Cedric's screaming refrain and Prigden's proficient drums without warnings, introductions or preparations. Their vision concerning music or, should I say, art, traduces in non-conventional traces like this - they couldn't care less. Tracks are usually developed in two parts, in very dynamic and energetic approach, almost without space for more substantiated calmer moments. Even so, when they exist, they are genuinely felt. Metatron portrays very well these characteristics, without a doubt one of the most shining standouts of the album. The orchestration of the instruments is so complex that we could barely imagine such a combination with succeed in a relatively understandable music track - sometimes we have three (!) different guitar solos competing at the same time, not to mention all the rest (which include saxophone, flute and clarinete). Unsurprisingly, the album is a technical standout: new drummer Thomas Prigden's fast-tempo drumming is a standout by itself, sometimes making us doubt if a Human Being is capable of such beat; while the several guitars are combined in every way and tone, from complex and heavy to punctuated riff to mesmerizing solos and effects. Ilyena and Wax Simulacra are the possible singles of the work, the first one being particularly effective while conserving the distinctive ingredients. Goliath combines a Rage Against the Machine riff to an explosive jam end, a la hard-core. In fact, this record is the most heavy of their catalogue, with Ouboros starting with a heavy punctuated guitar riff which would certainly not dismiss any death metal track, after a brief introduction a la Prefab Sprout. Cavalettas shows some interesting guitar experimentations and Askepios is the most pompous and spacey of all tracks, remembering the majestic rock of King Crimson and Tool's intriguing darkness. This track starts a magnificent trio with Ouroboros and Soothsayer, this last the corollary of their complex orchestrations, fusing a Latin background motif to space sound effects, violin arrangements a la classical music, psychedelic and more-conventional guitar jams, in a terrific and more again a surprising blend of unthinkable combinations.

The album may require several careful listens to be understandable, and to notice the many intricate variations which exist, due to its high complexity. Mars Volta may loose much from the somewhat egocentric attitude of its members, and certainly they may one day deserve to be pointed the finger (if really that day comes), but this certainly is not the time - this is respectfully a work of geniuses.

8/10 (very good)

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Send comments to TRoTZ (BETA) | Report this review (#166367)
Posted Friday, April 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars As a huge fan of bands such as Transatlantic, Spock's Beard, Yes, King Crimson, Tangent and many others of the sort, it was a huge surprise when I first heard Deloused years ago. It was like nothing I had ever heard in music, it took great parts of many bands and amalgamated them into one piece of organized chaos. Over the years Mars Volta has certainly grown but has never matched Deloused, until now. The Bedlam in Goliath is broken from the same mold as Deloused but uses the precious experience they have gained in the years since to make it a prog masterpiece. One song that stands out is Cavalettas. I've read the other reviews here and it seems to me that I have a different understanding of the song. I'm not going to say I am right or wrong but here's how I saw it. Cavalettas is a piece of music split by moments of inaudibility. It is a song that has great musicianship and when it is broken down by these splits you have moments of inaudibility rescued by moments of musical clarity that sound even better because of the preceding bridge. The album as a whole continuously flows from beginning to end; the only moment of silence arrives at the last 3 seconds of the last song. This album is full of brilliance, the only way this album could get 1 star from anyone is if they don't understand the music, don't give it a chance, or just plain have it out for Mars Volta. This album is up there with the best prog has to offer.

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Send comments to ringofhonor (BETA) | Report this review (#168210)
Posted Sunday, April 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars It's [%*!#]ing cursed! Mishaps abound, tragedy will follow soon!

This is one of TMV's good efforts. However, I feel like they've almost sold out a little bit with this album. It feels much less experimental than the others. That isn't to say it's still really out there, it's just not the type of thing I've come to like about The Mars Volta. Anyway, enough of my gripes here's what I think of the actual sound and music.

The sound itself is distinctly Volta. However, while they've never been shy about vocal effects and all of that, it feels like it's more contrived this time. The high-pitch of Cedric's voice is very intelligent in some places, but at other times it's obnoxious to the point where you really wish you had the strange ambient white noise back.

Also, I feel like the removal of the ambient noise means Omar is listening more to the complaints of his fans. While there's really nothing wrong with this, I wish he still had that self-indulgent and avant-garde approach and attitude from previous albums. Pandering, to me, even at a very slight degree, is a compromise to the true inner art of a piece.

I know this is a crap review, I just don't have it in me right now to do my ideas justice. However, I think the so-called curse may not be as bunk as I'm sure many people think it is. I know a kid who got into a car accident, one who broke several bones. Maybe I'm just noticing this retrospectively, but I get the feeling that it's not just all in my head.

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Send comments to kickflipthecat (BETA) | Report this review (#169618)
Posted Friday, May 02, 2008 | Review Permalink
ProgBagel
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The Mars Volta - 'The Bedlam in Goliath' 4.0 stars

A strong return to form.

The Mars Volta comes back in full force with this album. The bass playing is a wonderful step-up through the hands of Juan Alderte and Thomas Pridgen on drums adds some new life to the band. Thomas is one of the best drummers in the business now, according to these eyes. Gone is the inconsistency of 'Amputechture' and far away is the endless noise on 'Frances the Mute'. This album is a strong comeback to just playing some fine music.

This is Volta's loudest in-your-face work yet. The tempo rarely slows down and the listener is slammed with noise. I fell in love after my first listen, but beware; this album needs to be played sparingly. The noise is only too much if the listener makes it that way.

There is no hesitation to bring out the energy with the opening number 'Aberinkula'. The vocals, guitars, bass and drums all come in ferociously to really drag the listener in. The song was pretty good and flows right into 'Metatron' creating a two-part opener. Cedric's work on the mic really makes the verses and chorus shine. I found the first five tracks on the album to be flawless pieces, especially 'Goliath'. It features one of their simplest lines reminiscing '21st Century Schizoid Man' which some great solo sections thrown in the middle. Towards the end the intro is played rapidly really closing out this number well. Sadly, after the first five the album does dip a little low. 'Tourniquet Man' is the worst Mars Volta track composed so far in my opinion. Over two minutes of noise and Cedric. bad combo. 'Cavalettas' is also a letdown for being the longest song on the album, leaving me to expect something great. The track fails to deliver in most areas. For the most part, that is the only disappointment on the album. 'Agadez' has one of the best chorus' vocal wise that Cedric has done. 'Askepios' features some of the last weak moments on the album with the first three minutes. Once the funky bass kicks in the song turns into a very nice jam track. 'Ouroborous' is my favorite track on the album. This is the bands' most speedy track, and there is a wonderful breakdown leading into the chorus. About two-thirds through the song it really takes a smooth turn with some a real slow section that slowly starts to speed up with a repeating sax line in the background. The chorus finally hits again with Thomas Pridgen wailing away on the drum-kit to close this fantastic song. 'Soothsayer' adds some middle-eastern influences and some string instruments; a really interesting track. 'Conjugal Burns' sums up the album nicely. I found it to be perfect regarding the typical Mars Volta chemistry. Moving drums, fast guitar, moving vocals and nice effects all mixed fashionably. Another great track on this album.

This is my runner up for album of the year behind Kayo Dot's wonderful work. This year has been quiet the upset for me. Does anybody want to change my views?

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Send comments to ProgBagel (BETA) | Report this review (#171313)
Posted Sunday, May 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Bang! Crash! Wow! Wallop! I'm on the corkscrew at Alton Towers, oh actually I'm listening to some music!

The intenseness bursts into your ears straightaway - make sure you have the volume down when you start it up, for this will take you into a journey of wildness never heard before.

This album is amazing - it's full of life, energy, wildness, developed experimentation, skill, pace, with some breathing spaces (occasionally). It is intense - leaves you gasping for air. This is true musical marmite - you will either love this, or utterly hate it (I can see that in some of the previous reviews).

For those who love wild music that is utterly different - like Jimi Hendrix speeded up. For those who love thrill rides and extreme sports. For when you are feeling a little crazy. For those who love pure energy - then this is highly recommended.

For those who love tranquillity, melody, beauty, and the grandeur of symphonic prog rock - then this is not recommended. I am telling you - there is NO beauty in this, no melody, but that is not why it's great. WARNING - If you don't like falsetto screaming - then don't go near this!!!!

But if you have mood swings - sometimes you feel peaceful and want to lie back and watch the sky - then "Wish you were Here" or something on those days, but on another day you feel a bit mad - then that's the time for this album (or any MV album for that matter).

I think it's entirely wrong to compare MV albums with previous ones - they should be considered in their own right. It's especially wrong to compare with Deloused in the Comatorium (which so many do). However, I think in their previous albums they were experimenting - now they are picking the best out and developing the best parts of their experimentation - this is entirely what Pink Floyd did - although MV is more like Pink Floyd may have become had Syd Barrett never left. It's so apt that they play "Candy and a Current Bun" as a bonus track at the end. I don't mean that's PF would have sounded like - I mean is more how the experimentation would have developed in a way. PS - If you are a PF fan, I'm not sure you'll like this (unless "Piper" is your favourite album) - it certainly does NOT have the serenity of Roger Waters' Pink Floyd.

Dark Side of the Moon was Pink Floyd's 8th album - when all that experimentation was developed into the sound they wanted to be - and it became GIGANTIC. I feel that Mars Volta (this being the 4th album) are thus 4 albums away from GIGANTICNESS - I can't wait! I feel that MV are headed for similar greatness (please don't stop!!).

Some may think that this music is just chaos, but listen carefully. this actually has a lot of order and control, with the breathing spaces (where you can take a breath) well placed. The falsetto isn't actually always screaming - it's not always falsetto - listen.

As I heard once, there are those who listen to Hendrix, others that actually hear Hendrix. Can you actually hear the Mars Volta?? They have taken progressive music into a new dimension, and are making it cool again (even if they deny the genre - although I think that's a characteristic of true progressive musicians - when they deny it!)

What's missing? I do genuinely miss the use of Spanish, and hopefully they'll bring that back in later albums (BUT remember Spanish wasn't used in Deloused!). You think there is no Latino influenced stuff - but there is! Listen to the latter half of "Agadez" - it's there you know. I mean there really wasn't that much Latino stuff in their other albums - it was an occasional treat, which you do actually get!

But what have they added? A new drummer - and drumming beyond belief - fantastically supported by awesome bass playing from Juan Alderete. "Ever heard a man speak like this man before?" Ever heard a drummer drum like this man before? Never in the days of all my life. Just listen to the album one time while listening to Thomas Pridgen - it's awesome awesome awesome!!

This album contains a lot of high pace FUNK - and it seems that it is what they do best.

I am going to do something I don't normally do - to review songs individually, and put a favourite lyric with it (even if I never have the first idea what they are talking about in the lyrics - but maybe that's a good thing! Notice that they never use swear words - I hate it when lyrics contain swear words).

Aberinkula (9/10). Starts with an incredible unexpected blast that sets the scene for the rest of the album, but later you are treated with the first of the high pace funk with great drumming and bass, overridden with some amazing pacey guitar work that leads into the crazy Metatron.Lyric: 'stray abhoration stalking' (what???)

Metatron (9/10). A lengthier even more crazy track - some great singing over the top of an overriding lead guitar that makes you feel that "maybe I'll break down"! The guitar work is incredible. Constant changing paces and signatures. Lyric: 'suffocate the inkwell' (eh???)

Ilyena (10/10). This is where the Mars Volta launch into awesomeness. So so so funky and with enormous pace - the drumming is out of this world - all too soon it ends (but you are given a little extra at the end with some over-the-top falsetto that the Bee Gees would be happy with!). An amazing track!! (should have been the single) Lyric: 'entity ingredient' (pardon???)

Wax Simulacra (8/10). A mad choice for a single, but then they are the Mars Volta! Some more great drumming, and a lush mad bit of sax to finish. An into to Goliath really. Lyric: 'does my waiting howl' (come again??)

Goliath (10++/10). The band works superbly well together to form one of the greatest pacey tracks that you'll ever hear - blows your mind away - awesome. Constant lead guitars and overriding Cedric madness (takes you into space - like Cassandra Geminni). The track builds and builds to get better and better til you are air-guitaring or air-drumming to unforeseen wildness. Never heard a band like this before! This should go on "Guitar-hero" - it would compete with Dragonforce for difficulty in playing. Lyric: 'never heard a man speak like this man before' (is that from the Bible???)

Tourniquet Man (5/10). What is this?? - not exactly one of MV's best (I think most will agree) - I think though it's best placed here after Goliath just to give the listener a break. Luckily it's short, and you are into the next track before you realise. Lyric 'I slipped on crooked sores' (keh??)

Cavalettas (7/10). Not my favourite, over-experimental and a bit over-staggered (bitty and too long), but there are some very good bits buried within it. Starts well - has a funky first minute. Lyric: 'I am a deaf con of angora goats' (mystery???)

Agadez (8/10). You think oh no - more of Cavalettas, and the first part isn't great, but it develops brilliantly into the Latino-inspired second half. Lyric: 'scratch that itch' (I understand that, but in what context???)

Askepios (9/10). A terrible 3 minute over-experimental build-up (but I'm fine with that - it's the Mars Volta isn't it!) - but it then bursts into 2 minutes of awesome funk rock, with some of the bass playing you'll ever hear, with drumming and pacey lead guitar to die for (again with that fabulous singing over the top). A fabulous lead-in to the amazing Ouroborous.. Lyric: 'the steps of a ladder from a diamondback mouth' (I don't understand???)

Ouroborous (10/10). Amazing! - the drumming, guitars, everything. Sort of a peculiar high speed latino-funk with slow breathing paces, with wild solos. The falsetto is not so high on this one. Lyric: 'all components in the fault' (each word makes sense but doesn't make any sense together????)

Soothsayer (6/10). A bit too weird for me (actually it scares me) - not sure I like this one, but I should allow them to experiment. The track is saved by a fabulous dissonant solo about half-way through - some may hate that, but to make something like that work is incredibly difficult. Sounds like the end of Obscured by Clouds by Pink Floyd at the end. Lyric: 'my love becomes a mange dyeing autumn in its leaves' (sorry???)

Conjugal Burns (10/10). Quite scary beginning, but builds into an amazing pacey wild song, that leaves you gasping for air and wanting to put the CD back on again - geelings of Cassandra Gemini with vocals over wild lead guitars. The monster growling at the end is terrifying, but listen to the amazing sounds behind it. An awesome finish - finishes in the way it started. Listen to the rolling in the drums. Lyric 'bedsore containment' (sounds nasty???)

Candy and a Current bun - I won't rate this as it is a bonus - but a very good rendition of Syd Barrett's masterpiece.

Overall median score - 9/10 - rounds up to 5 out of 5 - I think this be a masterpiece!!

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Send comments to PinkPangolin (BETA) | Report this review (#172231)
Posted Monday, May 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars When looking upon the phenomenon of Prog-rock every listener has their own defenition of what this music is all about. As do muiscians, It's only a question of agreeing with their defenition. From my point of The Mars Voltas defenition of prog, is the telling of a story and the setting of emotions. When it comes to this, not many other bands joins with this bands league, there are a few. But The Mars Volta is one of the greatest in this matter.

The Bedlam in Goliath is (so far) the only Volta record i own, simply because this record took me by storm, no, rather by hurricane. It's a merciless creation from a bunch of extreamly talented musicians, that desperatly wants to tell their story. And YES! the story behind the record also adds that little extra to the experience of the record. Throughout the record i get these chills, and i sometimes feel exactly like they are playing and singing.

And for me, that makes a great record. A band could be extremly musicly clever and skilled and make perfect songs, but if it doesn't affect me in some way, then i'm not interested. It's the feelings that is supplied from the band, that truly makes the record. And this record does exactly that!

The Mars Volta is, comparing to the two previous realeses, trying to create a much rawer and harder soundimage, at times it is more aggressive then a Slayer record, but in a more painful way (Slayer has more of the [%*!#] YOU! approach to thier aggressiveness).

My favorite tracks (which stand out a little from the entity of the album) are as follows: Aberinkula Ilyena Goliath Tourniquet Man Askepios

But mainly, this album is a whole. Eventhough some tracks stand out as being a bit stronger then others, this supply an entity and a haunting story. The Mars Volta at thier musical peak. The band is flawless, whit the drummer standing out the most, with his outerwordly techniqe.

Wonderful realese!

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Send comments to meetmehere (BETA) | Report this review (#172781)
Posted Sunday, June 01, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars ANOTHER RELEASE FROM THE MARS VOLTA.

I swear to god I love these guys to death, but I can't love this monstrosity of an album. The only reason why I'm giving it two stars is because I have much respect for what these guys do. But, come on, this is really annoying crap.

Aberinkula, scared the crap out of me the first time I heard it. It's pretty repetitive but the parts that are played are really awesome. The ending half is mind blowing, filled with Sax solos and Crimson guitar lines. Great song (8.5/10)

Metatron is just a thrashing circle of crap that really annoys me to death each time I hear it. The musicianship it there, but the thinking isn't. (5/10)

Ilyena is pretty funky, I would like it much better without the random beginning and abrupt ending and recommencing. Overall, not bad, but could be much better. (7/10)

Wax Simulacra just blew me away the first I heard it. THIS IS THE MARS VOLTA I REMEMBER! This is the Mars Volta from De-loused! This is the stuff I eagerly waits months to hear from them. I honestly, would have still would have bought the album for this song. It's just amazing. (9/10)

Goliath, is a proggy, funky jam coming straight from the genius of Rodriguez Lopez. Complete with a King Crimson section at 4:00, this song is just great and definitely the epic of this album. One of their best songs. Very crazy and psychedelic. (10/10)

Tourniquet Man...No....Just no... (0/10)

Cavalettas thrashes starihgt at you, I was expecting something a little more creative after the monstrosity that just infiltrated my ears. BUT, I am dissapointed by retarded vocals and an annoying bass line. (4/10)

Agadez is pretty weird, it takes a while for the song to actually get started with a wannabe latin bass line. Which is about the song itself. The song is just more filler. Better than what just preceded it, but not good. (6/10)

Askepios, the only really good song that comes after Goliath. A total acid trip from start to finish. It also breaks halfway for an amazing section that totally blows me through the roof. This song is one of the weirdest songs, but it does the trick. (9/10)

After the last song, I thought maybe perhaps this album could be salvaged, but It appears to me I was very very wrong. I didn't even bother to listen to this. The first little random guitar thing at the start was nice, but then song started. (3/10)

Soothsayer could've been better if they didn't rehash the same riff over and over. It's not bad, I liked the Larks Tonguesy style violins near the ending. It was overall the most promising song from what I heard in the intro, but didn't follow through like I thought it would. (6/10)

Conjugal Burns starts off annoying and really stupid and slow. It's a dopey piece of wannabe music that repulses me to no end. I will never ever listen to this song again. Ever. (0/10)

Basically, it really sounds like the boys from The Mars Volta were trying to rehash what they created with De-Loused, but ultimately failed at it. They've stopped pushing the envelope and started retracting into what was once a creative cucoon of genius writing and great musicianship. I would expect more from these guys. It was a great dissapointment.

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Send comments to Treasure (BETA) | Report this review (#173629)
Posted Wednesday, June 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars For some strange reason I own all four THE MARS VOLTA albums. I've never quite loved this band, but I have always seen some potential for greatness. Sadly, with each new album, my hopes get slimmer. What started very promising with "De-Loused in the Comatorium", descending a little bit in "Frances the Mute" and a lot in "Amputechture", has ended, at least for right now, in one of the most boring albums I've heard this year, "The Bedlam In Goliath".

There's no need to waste any time talking about individual songs, especially when all of them are so much alike. I'll talk a little just about what I think are the problems with this band.

Musically, the members are, of course, very capable. They created a very original sound which continues to be original, unique. But they have lost any sense of restraint since their beginnings. In their early albums, there were moments when one could actually hear music played and created with cold heads.

Nowadays THE MARS VOLTA is just a train wreck of speed and paranoia that doesn't seem to be able to stop. Whatever atmosphere the previous albums contained, this latest one is absolutely devoid of. There's nothing here but a very nervous drummer who can't quiet down at least for a few seconds, and has to fill the canvas with fill after fill after roll after roll, absolutely destroying any chance this music could have to have any drama or tension. The singer, whose voice I never really loved, has turned into an obnoxious replica of the drummer but with vocal chords instead of drum heads for torture device. No stop, no pause, no room for breathing. The band thinks that the faster and more relentless they play, the better they are. The music loses in the process.

But the songwriting is the biggest victim of this overdose of self-indulgence. In earlier albums (mostly in the first two, as "Amputechture" was already a big disappointment), THE MARS VOLTA were capable of writing songs, not just aerobics exercises for their drummer, they could write songs with drama, with tension, with melody. Nowadays this sounds more like a bunch of musicians who had too much caffeine in their drinks and too much acclaim from their fans. Drunk in energy and ego, THE MARS VOLTA's latest album is the prime example of "pretentiousness", that word that many are so ready to use for classic bands they don't like but so cautious to even allow its existence for any artist that somehow plays "unique" music.

Yes, this is unique. But it's also BAD. Because of that uniqueness, I'll give it a couple of stars. It still sounds like more than it deserves, though.

I hope that for their next album, THE MARS VOLTA sit down and write some compelling songs for a change. And please, give your drummer a good sedative.

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Send comments to The T (BETA) | Report this review (#176101)
Posted Friday, July 04, 2008 | Review Permalink
1 stars I remember the t time I heard The Mars Volta's first album, and I found it to be fresh and original. I didn't listen to it a whole lot, because it was not near a standard for me to listen over and over. But I do recall thinking that this band was going to go places, and grow into a great band. The second album came along, and I though it was a huge step down, and now Bedlam in Goliath. My cousin gave me the CD to listen to and I had no problem with that, I was interested in seeing how they have grown. But what I heard was nothing but disappointment. I can sum up this disappointment very easily: All the songs sound the same. I don't even know why this is considered proggresive, because most prog that I know have different melodies and textures, where as this album seems to be one continuous sound/blob. After listening to the album, there is no memorable tracks, and I am left with nothing to hum, sing, remember at all. The music is a mess! At first I thought the a highlight was the good drumming, but then I realized that he played the same FRANTIC style over and over. The singing is just horrible on this record, or perhaps I am through with the vocals of this band on every record. I say stay away from this one!

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Send comments to Drew (BETA) | Report this review (#176545)
Posted Friday, July 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars TMV are another adept of ultra long CD (like TFK) and this one is no exception. About eighty minutes of ultra violent "music" throughout "The Bedlam In Goliath".

Little creativity in here. More noisy stuff than anything else. While I was rather charmed by their debut, my interest decreased rapidly. If you are a TMV addict, you might well appreciate this album but as a casual listener, I have to say that this "Bedlam." doesn't move me. At all.

Highly technical of course, self indulgent, pedantic. That's mostly what we get here. Combined here and there with strong cacophony. Of course, we are used by now to these tempo changes, powerful background music and high pitched vocals.

But to suffer this for over than seventy-five minutes is quite an exercise. Believe me! Here and there some acceptable passages, but none of the songs featured are bearable from start to finish (to be honest, "Agadez" might well be the one and only).

Take "Cavaletas" for instance. It sounds as if each musician is playing his own part without paying attention to his fellow colleagues. Totally disjointed and boring. And long.Awful.

The Oriental "Soothsayer" investigates new sounds and is probably the most original of this work. A good song after all even if one has to bear the usual wall of sound as well during this lenghty track. And the finale is rather dull.

It sounds as if TMV's inspiration is all gone and I wonder how their next album will sound like. Cause they can't go on like this. Can they? This is by far their poorest effort. One little star.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#179265)
Posted Saturday, August 09, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars The Mars Volta's Bedlam In Goliath is another strong original album from this talented young band. You can see their punk influence in this album. This is probably their heaviest album yet. Very different from their last album Amp which reminded me of Yes or King Crimson. With the new addition of their drummer Thomas it looks like the band is more comfortable on this album than the last. Most of the songs on this album are shorter in length and less solo's by Omar. Some standout tracks on this album are Metatron,Goliath,Agadez, and mu personal favorite Conjugal Burns. Not many bands can bring this kind of unique music to the table but this band can. This album get 4 stars from me, the only weak track on this album is Cavalettas. Besides that this album is just as wild as any other Mars Volta album.

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Send comments to JROCHA (BETA) | Report this review (#180499)
Posted Thursday, August 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
1 stars I have listened to plenty of The Mars Volta. Before I got this album, I figured I should get one of their CDs. It just so happened, their latest one was just about to come out. Well, why shouldn't I get it?

However, as soon as I listened to it for the first time, it was annoying. The first track seemed to have energy, but the track went nowhere. The placements of riffs are repetitive, and there are tons of pointless instrumental solos. The outro could have been cut entirely.

I hoped the next track would be better, but it picked up right where the first one left off. And instead of a five minute song, it was an eight minute song. Blegh!

The next is brought in by some pointless static (not an atmosphere, may I tell you). Then, almost all the way through the track, everything stops, and a completely different rhythm starts up. The final part goes nowhere. I understand that bands should try to push boundaries, but this is where pushing boundaries fails.

Wax Simulacra is another pointless energetic track, except we are spared of the endlessness because it's only 2 and a half minutes long. Thank you for your mercy, Mars Volta.

The only track making this album not completely pointless is Goliath. Very interesting. If I had to compare it to another track, I would say it's a bit of a latin influenced 21st Century Schizoid Man. Very cool. I really enjoy listening to this one. Maybe because it's the first one I listened to off the album before I actually got it, and since the rest of the album seems to be the same, nothing new was brought to the table.

The rest of the album is just more of the same. There's the pointless wannabe-ambient Tourniquet Man, Cavallettas which is nine minutes of the band not being able to decide between two different riffs so they go back and forth between static fadeouts, the endless Soothsayer and the horrible album ender Conjugal Burns, that gets more of that static without ever being ambient at all. Why this is an album closer is beyond me. Why a band would want to release a song like this is beyond me.

Why a band would actually release this is beyond me. There is no directions, the songs all sound the same, and the experimentation fails to impress. I have heard great stuff from the Mars Volta, but this isn't it. I respect the band for being intelligent musicians and trying new stuff, but this is where it fails.

I wouldn't reccomend this to anybody.

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Send comments to topofsm (BETA) | Report this review (#180947)
Posted Wednesday, August 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
horsewithteeth11
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars I don't know why I've put off writing a review for this album so long. Maybe it was because I didn't want to take the time to do so, or maybe it was because this is an album that seems to be on almost current rotation for me. Anyone who has already purchased this album probably already knows the background story to it, but if you don't, allow me to enlighten you. Back in 2006, when TMV was on tour, they often spent time after concerts fooling around with an ouija board that Omar purchased while on a trip to Jerusalem. Supposedly, three different people/spirits contacted them through the board, who are referred to by the band as Goliath, and they, over time, began making demands of the band. Shortly afterward, the drummer quits the band, Cedric needs surgery, audio tracks disappear, Omar's home studio floods, and the album's engineer quits after a nervous breakdown. Talk about bad luck! Anyway, Omar ended up breaking the ouija board in half and buried it in an attempt to undo the curse that had been placed upon the band. Moral: Who cares if the story's true or not: it's still really freaking awesome! Now on to the music. I'm not going to give this album a blow by blow for every song since I don't feel like taking that much time. Instead I'll just point out a few insights. First off, many people have accused TMV of making each album after their debut De-loused less and less accessible. While I would agree with this, accessible doesn't of course always mean worse. In fact, I think this album actually (barely) tops De-loused in terms of production quality and songwriting. The only difference between this album and TMV's debut is that this one takes more time to get used to. Cedric's voice has changed in the past 5 years, and this is a much more mature band since that time IMO. I even enjoy Pridgen's drumming style over Theodore's to an extent. If you have listened to TMV before, or even if you haven't, I would recommend this album fully. If it hadn't been for Watershed being released this year, I'd definitely say that this album would be my pick for best album of 2008. I cannot recommend this album highly enough! A masterpiece of prog music! 5 stars, 5 stars, 5 stars!

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Send comments to horsewithteeth11 (BETA) | Report this review (#181487)
Posted Tuesday, September 02, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars The Mars Volta's latest album was plagued by various incidents and mishaps during its recording, which were integrted into the concept of the album. The band owned a ouija board and would play with it after shows, and it told them stories from three entities in one, who called itself Goliath. When they began recording the album, however, strange happenings began to plague the band. Their drummer left the band, and Rodriguez-Lopez's home studio flooded and had frequent unexplained power outages, Bixler-Zavala required foot surgery, and the album's recording engineer sufferend a mental breakdown and left suddenly, leaving no notes as to what work he had done or how. The band broke the board, which they called The Soothsayer, in half, buried it in an undisclosed location, and refused to speak of it until the album was finished, then proceeded to forge on with the writing and recording.

Anyway, let's talk about the actual music now. This is simultaneously The Mars Volta's noisiest and least noisiest album. I know that doesn't make sense, so I'm going to elaborate. This is some of the loudest, heaviest, and most dissonant music the band has ever recorded easily. However, there are no atmospheric synth-noise passages like there was on Deloused In The Comatorium and more prominently on Frances the Mute. Here the noise is incorporated into the music instead of attempting to act as music on its own. The synth noise is buried in the mix behind the music, kept to a low roar that adds texture. Instrumentally, it's the drums and the guitar that take the lead. The drumming is aggressive and erratic, the beats in odd time signatures and frequently interrupted by fills. The guitar solos take the key signatures only as a loose suggestion, and are loud and distorted nearly throughout the full album. At points, wind instruments come up and wail over the rest of the music, showing little to no regard for melody. The vocals are much different from Deloused In The Comatorium. Instead of channeling Robert Plant, he has adopted a unique style all his own. At their lowest they are nasal and at their highest they are efffeminate falsettos. This style works a lot better than it sounds, however, as it fits the music well and he never hits terrible false notes. There are even noisy bits in the vocals, parts are processed throgh some sort of synthsizer/distortion and sound like some sort of robot (not the robot-voice abused by pop artists of the 90s, a much more sinister-sounding robot.)

The concept is not integral to enjoy the album, in fact, you can get by entirely without it. As far as I can tell the lyrics do not deal directly with it openly, although it's hard to tell. The lyrics are typical Mars Volta fare, rambling and nonsensical, and feautring a much larger vocabulary than your typical rock music. The lyrics are rather enjoyable if you're not put off by that style.

Despite all the trouble that The Mars Volta endured during the recording process, they churned out what I consider to be their finest album. Fans of Deloused In The Comatorium will enjoy the hard-rocking style of this one. Some might be disappointed that the Spanish vocals of Frances The Mute and Amputechture are absent this time around, and while those were nice, the music gets by without them. By now, it should go without saying that this one comes with a high reccomendation. (An amusing side note: listen for the misheard lyric in the first half of Conjugal Burns.)

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Send comments to MrEdifus (BETA) | Report this review (#189552)
Posted Sunday, November 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars On their fourth album, Omar and Cedric go further in the direction taken on Amputechture, refining many things and achieving a new sound. While I don't find it as good as Frances the Mute, it still makes for a great listen.

Amputechture sounded pretty much like a transitional album to my ears, with plenty of rough edges to explore, things left unfinished. The Bedlam In Goliath decides to take a further step in some of those things, particularly in the dynamics. Here the band goes back to conceptual albums, something different from the bunch of separate, cut-off songs in Amputechture, trying to unify and give focus to the whole thing. It works well despite the obtuse complexity of the lyrics, particularly on the first half and some moments of the second one (Agadez, Ouroborous).

But what's most easily distinguishable is Bedlam's unrelenting loudness. It's virtually quietness-free, all-loud. all-fast stuff. It also has the shortest track-lenghts since De-Loused, with every song under 10 minutes long, an average of 6 minutes and two of them at less than 3! It's one blasting riff after another, backed up by insane, machine-gun-like drumming and filled with layers of noise, effects and whatever Omar could find on his studio.

To make this happen, Omar had to look for a suitable drummer, and we could say he found just that with Thomas Pridgen. I saw TMV live last November and hell, he is indeed endless, fast and furious as hell, he just doesn't have a stop button! And he shows it all over the album, laying down fast and complex rhythm patterns, pounding brutally on those poor drums. It's a good call considering the sound Omar wanted to shape here.

Sadly, this approach has many mixed results. It's OK if Omar thought that 'focusing' was to make things shorter and much louder, ambience-noise-free, but that ends up cluttering the album at some points. On its first half, the concept plays very well despite the usually hard-to-decipher lyrics by Cedric - creating some kind of coherence. But after half an hour of explosiveness, I find myself needing quite a relief, which is Tourniquet Man's (too) brief respite. To make things worse, that song sounds undercooked, and then comes the uninspired Cavalettas, who coincidentally is the longest song on the album. So at the middle of the album there's a double-double-whammy, to put it into words.

The whole thing about making things shorter doesn't help the album at certain points, despite the focus. It took me some time, but after that I realized that the long *ambient noise* parts in Frances The Mute did have a purpose and helped with the flow of the album. Amputechture sounds a bit cluttered because of its cut-off endings. Here, I find both the two 2:39 songs sounding a bit underdeveloped, playing more like experiments than like proper songs, and also a lack of quieter moments that help the intense things, well, being properly intense. Have you noticed, for example, how Tournqiuet Man starts so intriguing? Because it comes all quiet, comparatively low-register from the avalanche of fire that's the end of Goliath. The same thing about Ouroborous well-crafted stops. To be intense, you need to be the opposite at times so you can define what's intense. Here, the album's solely quiet track apart from Tourniquet Man is Soothsayer, which is clumsily executed because of Pridgen's nonstop drumming, which clutters the song. He just can't drum slowly, something that Theodore handled very well. It's just not his thing, and you can notice it.

Cedric suffers much from this approach to the music. He sings well, quite higher than in previous albums, but he gets trapped under another avalanche: the one made up of vocal effects. There's just too many of them all over here, from the obnoxious double-octave premiered on Amputechture up to much weirder ones (Tourniquet Man, Cavalettas). The problem with this is that by being so many, none of them have such an impact. Therefore, his performance diminishes in quality and strength, it doesn't sound so intense anymore.

Those are the flaws, but still Omar manages to pull many good things together: Many of these songs (more independent than the songs on the first two albums) stand very well by themselves, and the shorter track lengths are welcome in a way since they force him out of the stiffness I found on many parts in Amputechture. Ouroborous, Metatron, Goliath and Agadez have an excelent timing and structure, and parts on many others shine with Omar's distinctive style, now bearing incredible flourishes of many styles, particularly of a middle-eastern flavor. He corrected many of the rough edges in Amputechture, packing a more powerful, punchier sound. Pridgen helps a lot with this, adding a primal, lightning-fast drumming that lifts things up. And despite my criticism of the short songs, I still like them a lot, since they're really intense nevertheless.

In overall, it's a good album, although the choice of pure volume has mixed results every now and then. The Mars Volta are drifting even further apart from any other band, even the prog ones, creating their own rules to make music, and that's what makes it being a nice addition to any prog-music collection. However, Omar's statements about a possible next album left me intrigued: A quiet one, dubbed *the acoustic one*? Got to hear that.

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Send comments to santiagoprog (BETA) | Report this review (#189945)
Posted Wednesday, November 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars I was walking to class the first time I put this album on, and boy was I startled by the opening fury of Aberinkula. The Mars Volta sort of eased you into their previous albums, but this one starts with a swift slap in the face. My favorite tracks on the album are Ilyena, Cavalettas, Ouroborous, Agadez, and the ball-busting Goliath. Also included on the album, which I purchased on iTunes, was a cover of Nick Drake's Things Behind the Sun, which is totally different from his version, yet still magnificently beautiful. Anyway, I would say the album is worth buying simply for Cavalettas and Goliath alone. Goliath is their most concisely constructed song to date, and one of their most powerful. The main riff is punk infused funk played at warp speed; the song is simply one of my favorite Mars Volta songs of all time. I thought this album was a little over the top when I first listened to it, but it really shows a newly invigorated group after the somewhat lackluster release of Amputechture. Thomas Pridgen is a great fit with the rest of the group, and, in some cases, sounds even more polished than Jon Theodore did. This album shows The Mars Volta at their most aggressive. Even though it may seem sometimes to sound like a group of buffalo stampeding off a cliff, there are too many interesting moments on this album to pass it up.

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Send comments to evantate09 (BETA) | Report this review (#192250)
Posted Sunday, December 07, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Organized Chaos?

The 4th studio album from The Mars Volta is yet another step diagonally for what is one of the most interesting bands currently in their prime. After Deloused, who could have expected the sonic masterpiece Frances? Which in turn was followed by the explorative and seemingly direction-less Amputechture. Now what? The Bedlam In Goliath is just that--- Bedlam! Fury. Energy. Angst. Chaos. Just as soon as you have a song figured out, it changes. Next track? Maybe...maybe not.

The Mars Volta continue to impress me with every album for many reasons; with every release they manage to sound like the same group without copying themselves, they offer plenty of music per album, and they are never stale. This is not my favorite release from them now, but it might be one day. Almost every track has multiple parts, and they roll on top of one another without hesitation. The bass is more prominent here than on Amputechture, and the drums are insane (for lack of a better word). Some people complain that Bedlam is overproduced, which I understand but disagree with. Several parts of several songs are layered ridiculously with multiple instruments (namely Metatron) and effects, but the opposite is also true for much of the album.

Aberinkula kicks you in the teeth as soon as you press play, then gets funky, kicks again, and finally transitions back toward a fiery and funky closure. Metatron starts immediately and almost sounds like part of the same song. This song is a frenzy of everything the group can do... almost too much. The slightly ambient middle is the best part. Ilyena begins like their earlier releases: fading into the explosion of sound. Also extremely funky. Much like Aberinkula, Ilyena turns into a different song completely for the final minute. Wax Simulacra... wow. A three minute song with enough punch for a whole album. The drumming here is just plain nuts and perfect. Goliath is a powerhouse of a song, a great beat smothered in frantic guitar, drums and keys. At the 4 minute mark it takes a detour towards the asylum, all while Cedric sings the blues. Best vocals on the album. Tourniquet Man is spacey and short and out of place on this album, not bad but nothing special. It easily could have been part of another song. Cavalettas seems to bury the bass through much of it, and has so many time changes I never know where its going. Long and complex, but almost without a point (unless that is the point). The next track, Agadez, is evil music at its best. A well rounded and very heavy song, and another that changes into something different at the end. Askepios is a well structured song where the so-called over production makes it even better, especially where the drums are concerned. Guess what? It too changes for the last two minutes. Ouroboros is another funky track driven by the drums. Coolest song on Bedlam. Then we have Soothsayer, completely different than anything else. Long and dark and somewhat middle-eastern. It is very much a combination of organic and polluted, beautiful and ugly. Conjugal Burns is a decent song but a curious closer. Cedric's scream near the end is chilling and gutteral and practically makes the song.

The Bedlam In Goliath is easily one of the most intense albums I own. I personally think Soothsayer should close it, but otherwise it is another remarkable output from The Mars Volta. I am very excited for more from this group. 4 strong stars.

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Send comments to Sgt. Smiles (BETA) | Report this review (#198552)
Posted Monday, January 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars I love all four studio albums from this innovative band. They really have taken Prog to a new level. Post- Punk Prog for Now People. Amazing.

Their third studio album is very good, but I didn't find it up to the standards of the first two albums. But then with this album they re-focus their energies to update their vision, giving the band a new lease on life. They've taken the energy often found in the first two albums, but sustain that energy throughout the entire album by using less slow/soft moments, yet at the same time interject more hooks and groove than before. A logical continuation of their full onslaught sound, but still a step forward, which everyone wants from innovative bands.

I'm not sure its "better" than the first two, but I'd say its just as good. So it surprises me that its got the lowest ratings of all four. I give it a 5* classic rating.

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Send comments to akajazzman (BETA) | Report this review (#201054)
Posted Thursday, January 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Releasing their fourth (count 'em, 1-2-3-4) album in only 5 years, The Mars Volta are a profilic force indeed. Into those years you also have to cram intense touring, handfuls of side-projects (does Omar even sleep?), collaborations, and general workaholism. Mars Volta are an intense band with an intense persona; both them and their music bleed an awkward dissonant energy. While they have always toyed with aural hallucinations (Cicatriz ESP, Cassandra Gemini) their sound here is both more haunted and more visceral, barely anchored by new drummer Thomas Pridgen. The genesis of this album is the stuff of rock and roll legend. Too keep a weird story short, the production of this album was somewhat possessed by ghosts from an ancient ouija board. Not even Tom Waits could spin a yarn that demented and play it with a straighface (or whatever passes for normality to that guy). I actually attended the ill- fated concert where they debuted the song Wax Simulacra live (Auckland, 2007), the first from the cursed recording sessions. Rumour has it that the performance was plagued with mysterious technical issues and Cedric broke his foot later that night, incapacitating him for months. It sounded alright to me.

For fans of the band (The Mars Volta):

My first question regarding this album was how it sounded compared to their previous work. Amputechture turned the erratic menace of De-Loused and Frances into a more focused but no less hypnotic animal, even sounding like classic prog in a few spots. This album does the opposite. Chaos and sonic density are emphasised herein. Guitars are filed down to metallic scraping, vocals are taught and howled, and the air is thick with intricate percussion fills. Some songs wander further away from the fields of pleasant listening and become nightmarish in the darkness. Askepios is the music equivalent of watching your floor slowly melt and bubble away. Goliath turns Omar's guitar into something monsterous and lascivious. Wax Simulucra is violent powderkeg of a song. This is The Mars Volta's best expression of their intensity as a wacked out psychaedelic band with a penchant for the unknown. One song that deserves it's dues is Ilyena, a tribute of sorts to actress Helen Mirren. After two songs of powerful noisia this gem shines as a reminder that trippy has a sunny side too, even if that manifests as alien funk via Zappa-land.

For fans of prog in general: Do you like heavy psychaedelic guitar work? Do you like non-sensical yet somehow profound lyrics? Mars Volta serve the two up in spades. The songs can be pretty abrasive and intense (that word again) but this is no issue to most prog fans. If your tastes are more 70s or 80s oriented (Rush, Pink Floyd, Alan Parsons) this may not tickle your fancy but, God bless, it just might. Heavy, trippy, and cool.

How does this rate in the bands discography?: Not the essential buy from the discography but its one hell of ride.

PS: I would have given it 3.5 if I could have.

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Send comments to Hicks_was_right (BETA) | Report this review (#205934)
Posted Tuesday, March 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars 'The Bedlam In Goliath' - The Mars Volta (3.5/10)

Amputechture, Pt II? Yeah, not quite...

When 'The Bedlamn In Goliath' was released, The Mars Volta ranked up there as being one of my favourite bands. I was hoping for something that was going to harken back to the times of 'De-Loused In The Comatorium' or even something completely new, that was a masterpiece. Instead, what the world got was essentially an 'Amputechture' Part II release that's not even as good as the first. While it's dissapointing however, it has too many moments of interest for me to give it the one star I would like to.

The band is going in a direction where I don't think I can follow them, if they going down the path. What they have done is strip emotional feeling out of most of the music (on 'De-Loused,' there was plenty) and replaced with a latin-jazz-funk sound that while not terrible, isn't really what I want out of this particular band.

Emotion is honestly the center of any sort of music (even prog!) and with so little to be found on 'The Bedlam In Goliath' it's really turned me off to the album, and in a way, the band.

From a purely logical perspective however, the music is great. Theres a very rich atmospheric layering (the same layering that hurt the emotional side of the music in the first place) that works at times. Theres a bad problem that the band falls into however with using too many breaks from the energy... For example in 'Askepios' after 30 seconds of actual music, it falls into a noisy slum that I am always wanting to just skip through. Music shouldn't make you want to skip through parts!

What prevents this from getting the sort of rating I've been measuring it up for is that some of the music, while lacking emotion is very awesome to listen to. 'Wax Simulacra' and 'Goliath' stood out to me as being quite good. As far as marking goes, an album with a few good songs, and the rest ranging from poor to mediocre rates as a two star album.

I'm sure that this could have been alot better, with a bit more taste and attention to the details. Dissapointing, non-essential, but wasn't terrible to listen to either. 2.5 Stars.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#207698)
Posted Wednesday, March 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars The Mars volta is a band fom El Paso, Texas, and all of its band members is a hispanic descendant. They do a very diferent style of Prog Rock, like Hard-Electronic-Salsa-Jazz-Punk-Fusion. Frantic guitar riffs, very fast drumming, high-pitched vocals, and many effects. It may sound very chaotic and weird at the first time you hear, but with the time you'll notice their music is sensational. The Bedlam in Goliath has all of these elements, and a bit more. A great album, with 12 songs (most of them with very weird names), 77 minutes of chaotic and organized sound of one of the best bands of today.

01 - Aberinkula (5:45) - An aberinkula is a kind of drum used in Nigeria, and also can be translated as Non-believer. This is truly one of the best songs of the album. It Begins with an amazing chorus, with great drumming, frantic guitar and vocoded singing. Everything on this song is perfect. The chorus part intercalates with a slighty funky sessions with clean vocals, and solid bass guitar playing and drumming. Check the awesome instrumental part from 3:15 onwards, with a great riff, great bass playing and frantic saxofone. Check also the disturbing music video of this song! (10/10)

02 - Metatron (8:11) - Metatron is an angel, considered the harbor of the voice of god. We have a 14 minutes two-part opener. This song is in the same style of Aberinkula. The first 3 minutes is a heavy rock tune with great drums, frantic guitar and vocoded vocals. At 3:09 the song becomes a semi- ballad, with clean high-pitched vocals and a very nice riff, with some good drumming. The song backs to its heavy form at 4:28, with a slightly funky feel, with some cool slap bass, some rap-like vocals and good drumming. At 5:35 there is a great guitar solo by Omar, followed by awesome drums and slap bass. The first part is revisited around 7:27. Metatron is a nice epic, but not so good as Aberinkula, and a bit tiring too. (8,5/10)

03 - Ilyena (5:35) - Ilyena is a reference to Ilyena Vasilievna Mironov, which is the birth name of actress Dame Helen Mirren. It start with some distorted vocals, wich I really don't like. Around 1 minute mark, the other instruments come in a slightly funky song. The drums and the bass guitar are very good. The guitar does a very nice work too. Around 4:10 the song stops and became a weird number, with some vocals,wich recalls the singing of Reggae female backing vocalists. The song end with some dissonance and distortion. One of the weakest tracks on the album. (7,5/10)

04 - Wax Simulacra (2:38) - The word simulacrum is used to describe a representation of another thing, such as a statue or a painting; especially of a god. It also describes an image without the substance or qualities of the original. Simulacra is simply the plural form of the word. (Font: Wikipedia). This one is a very great song, but it's quite short. The Song has some amazing drum work, and nice singing. The Guitar is great too. Great track, but i think it could be longer, at least four minutes long. (9,5/10)

05 - Golliath (7:15)- Goliath is a Philistine warrior mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. Goliath is another monster track. Awesome guitar and drums and a great vocal performance by Cedric. Omar and Thomas are monsters on their instruments. The chorus of the song is truly amazing!! Again: Omar's insane guitar and Thomas' machine gun drumming are very great, check the guitar solo at 2:33 mark, with fantastic drumming. The bass and the keys are more pushed to background, but they are nice. At 3:50 the song changes in a awesome riff, a l a 21st Century Schizoid Man, and in this part the bass guitar is more on the front. Great drumming and guitar Too. There are some wails by Cedric, and then he sings "Never heard a man speak like this man before". Genius! (10/10)

06 - Tourniquet Man (2:38)- This one is the "Asilos Magdalena" of the album, but also recalls some tracks like "Televators" and "Vicarious Atonement". The song is very calm, almost relaxing, with clean guitars and a sweet vocal line, and with spacey effects and keyboards in the background, and no drums. The first part is very listenable, but then the drums enter, and the vocals become distorted. Awful. This is a shame. Distorted vocals work very well on frantic songs, such as Aberinkula, Metatron, Tetragrammaton and Meccamputechture (The last two from Amputechture), but when they are in calm and slow-paced songs they transform the songs in awful numbers, such as "Asilos Magdalena", the bridge of "Vermicide", "The Widow", and this one. For me is the weakest song of the album. (5,5/10).

07 - Cavalletas (9:32) - This one is the longest song of the album. The song is almost a rondo, cause alternate between some different themes and with the chorus part. The song starts with some rockslide drumming and guitars. Then Cedric starts to sing and the bass guitar does a awesome line. There's some nice guitar on the guitar. Many times the song changes the rythm, but always back to the chorus. "Cavalletas" is a bit tiring but cool. There's a great saxophone/moog solo around 6:40 mark. There's a short section that recalls some parts of Pink Floyd The Wall. There's some children screaming at the end of the song, like "Another brick on the Wall". There's some random flute at the song. (8,5/10).

08 - Agadez (6:43) - Great Song! This song begin with some sinister guitar, bass and drums. Agadez, has a bluesy feel, but with many sinister effects and keyboards. Great chorus and drumming. Cedric's voice is awesome, and Thomas drumming too. The song has a nice break at 3:10, with some sinister keyboards and bolero-like snare drumming. Around the four minute mark there is some nice latin percussion. This song is very sinister. (8,5/10)

09 - Askepios (5:10) - "Askepios" is to "Agadez" what "Metatron" is to "Aberinkula". A species of part 2. The song has some nice effects, but is not so sinister like "Agadez". Cedric voice is also better than the previous song. Effects, Distortion and noises sometimes are annoying, but work very well in this one. Cedric's voice is very good, check at 1:04 to 1:30. His voice is so beautiful on that part. The noisy part backs again, and the "calm" part backs again with some distortion. Anyway this song is so distorted. At 3:21 there's a very good part, with some nice slap bass and solid drumming. A weird song, in which is very hard to get into. For this i will give a (7,5/10).

10 - Ourobouros (6:36) - This is much better than Askepios. It Begins with some great drummig and guitar, and Cedric's Voice is very good. " Ouroborous" is a very lively song, but a bit sinister. The part starting around the Two minutes mark is an example. Omar does a nice guitar work on this one, too. The chorus is awesome! The sinister part backs again around 3:35. But a very nice hard-rock part comes. At 4:32, a great part comes. If you don't like "Agadez" and "Askepios" you'll probably like this one. At 5:30 there's a bluesy part. A very nice song (8,5/10)

11 - Soothsawyer (9:10) - A lenghty song, and one of the best songs of the album. It begins with some nice violins playing a indian-like melody, with some people speaking and singing at the background. Then the drums enter, and a sitar-sounding guitar, playing togheter with the raga violins. Cedric is singing in a mantra-like manner, and the chorus combines his voice with some distortion with some nice guitar and nice drumming. The chorus is lively and calm at the same time. "She's calling me" demonstrate how Cedric's voice is good (He's one of the best singers of nowadays, his range is awesome). There's a great guitar solo by Omar arounf 4:30, with that raga violins always backing the guitar, the bass and the drums. I don't get tired of listening this song, despite only "Cavalletas" is longer. There are some nice David Cross-like violin solo around 6:20 (David Cross is the violinist of King Crimson). The song has a very dissonant two minutes outro, with some mantra-like singing, with some very nice violin.. Soothsawyer can be described as oriental-mantric-rocking-smooth-heavy- beautiful-dissonant. (10/10)

12 - Conjugal Burns - Nice song. It's almost bluesy, and Cedric high-pitched singing is very nice. Very good guitar work by Omar. At 2:17 there's a very good part. Conjugal Burns has a screaming part, wich begins at 4:40, in a explosion of dissonance, weird noises, distortion, rockslide drumming, demonic vocals, ugh. This part is completely awful, but at 5:56 the song gets listenable again. But the song ends abruptely. It's a shame, a very good album ending so awfully. (6,5/10)

"The Bedlam in Golliath" is a very good album, a must have for the New-Progheads!

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Send comments to TheKnife (BETA) | Report this review (#210141)
Posted Saturday, April 04, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars I'm not a big fan of the Bedlam in Goliath

I realize that every Mars Volta album is an "acquired taste," but I simply can't get into this one, and I've been trying for about six months now.

Every TMV album up this point has been a challenge for me, but I can truthfully say that I love them all. Some more than others, but they all hold a special place in my heart. I bought Amputechture on it's release date, despised it, but then found my self infatuated with it a week later.

I figured this would again be the case with Bedlam, only it never really clicked. I really appreciate the first five songs, but sitting through all 75 minutes of this album is an exercise in endurance for me. I'd go so far to say that there is only one reason to keep the album playing after the song "Goliath", and that is "Soothsayer," the closest thing to a ballad on this album (I don't really consider "Tourniquet Man" a song.) "Cavelettas" is OK too.

Maybe there is something wrong with me, because every other TMV fan I talk to hails this album as a masterpiece. I have tried to pinpoint what it is I dislike about this album.

- Monotony: these songs rarely ever lower the intensity. They seem to mostly be mid-tempo, very loud, and packed full of as much guitar noise Omar could fit. Even when the slower songs do come along, there is so much unrelated noise in the background, I can't dig it. - The solos on this album don't really accomplish anything. On Frances the Mute, Omar's solos made that album come alive. All that cool reverb, delay, those sloppy-yet-appropriate tweaking sounds, which would slowly build up to a crescendo... I digress. Here, their only objective seems to be noise. - Though all the members of the band are obviously extremely technically proficient, they are not given the time they deserve here. The role of the woodwinds and keyboards is a reduced quite a bit. Amputechture had great solo segments for the bass and percussion, something that is now gone. - I don't like the (relatively) short song style here. The songs here are mostly chorus driven, and with few exceptions, don't shape shift like those songs on previous albums, which I consider much more ambitious. - Though I find Cedric's vocals great, he seems to be a one-trick-pony on this album. He does the same extremely high harmonization with himself one nearly every track, which I don't see how he will reproduce live. I believe he wastes too much time with that vocal distortion. He also no longer sings in Spanish. - There is no room to breathe here. The older albums had ambiance (which I miss greatly), quiet interludes, even songs you might consider ballads (Televators, The Widow, Asilos Magdelena.) - The closer, Conjugal Burns, is a six-and-a-half-minute mess. Noisy, directionless, I even heard that Cedric let the Ouija board write the lyrics. This might be my biggest problem with the album.

However, this isn't a terrible album. I just expect more from a band like the Mars Volta. In fact, the first five songs are great, of the same standard of their older material. The rest of the album, however, seems much less creative. I really, really, REALLY want to like this album like the others, but I simply cannot. Sorry, but I am disappointed.

No offense is meant to big fans of this album. I guess it just isn't for me.

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Send comments to The SaidRemark (BETA) | Report this review (#211661)
Posted Saturday, April 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars Take the heaviest moments of "Tetragrammaton" or "Cassandra Gemini," multiply their intensity by ten, and that's The Bedlam in Goliah. Drummer Thomas Pridgen must have thrown both his arms out of socket the way he is all over the kit. The music comes in nonstop, furious washes that, for the uninitiated, might have them screaming from the room. As usual, the songs are heavy not just musically, but lyrically also; the lead singer drenches each track in a volley of seemingly nonsensical syllables and phrases that ring true even if the hearer can't make heads or tails of them. With the exception of the terse "Tourniquet Man," there isn't breathing room anywhere on this album, and I suspect there simply isn't meant to be. For quite some time, I contented myself with the first half of the album, since I could only take so much of it at one time. Even when I dared traverse the sixth track, I found my attention and interest wane quickly and often. It took an awful lot of fortitude, more so than any other album by this frighteningly creative band, to make it to the place where I enjoy this whole work. This still remains my least favorite studio album from The Mars Volta (out of the first four, at least), but I've come to terms with what it is, and what's more, surprisingly, have even come to enjoy it.

"Aberinkula" The sonic onslaught begins here, with Cedric Bixler-Zavala's banshee-like vocals and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez's erratic guitar. The drumming is nothing less than psychotic. The song also features one of the most imaginative yet tightly constructed instrumental sections The Mars Volta has ever thrown together.

"Metatron" What this song has in common with the first track, other than the constant wall of sound, is a really catchy refrain. There is a brief break in the music, as Rodriguez-Lopez introduces a swampy guitar sound that brings in an easy-to-follow and highly enjoyable section of music, with Bixler-Zavala singing in a catty but pleasant falsetto.

"Ilyena" My favorite on the track is this one. It begins with Bixler-Zavala's voice saturated in electronic effects before the band explodes in what is probably the catchiest song on the album; one could almost break dance to this.

"Wax Simulacra" Brief doesn't mean soft- this two-and-a-half minute song is just as hard-hitting as everything that came before it. I really enjoy the melody used, and I applaud the band's economy.

"Goliath" Yet another powerful track with a pummeling rhythm section and manic guitars, The Mars Volta delivers again in terms of composition and vocal melody, as well as such clever use of electronic effects. Those effects aren't as pronounced as the processing that pervades a track like "Ilyena," but they're still there, particularly in the frenetic but completely memorable ending.

"Tourniquet Man" This is the only oasis of tranquility on the album, and even then, it's dark and chilling.

"Cavalettas" This was the usual point on the album where I hit the eject button; perhaps it isn't for me to listen to nearly eighty minutes of noise-laden edgy hard rock. The first three minutes of this track lacks some of the charm (funny word, that) of any of the previous songs, but it has it's own gritty appeal and an seemingly random avant-garde section. After the three minute mark, I always find myself going, "Now there's the melody I was humming in my head the other day!" The last moments of the song have Bixler-Zavala singing that main melody over minor chords played on piano and an erratic-sounding guitar.

"Agadez" The electronic noise from the previous track brings in this one. Despite strange effects and processing, this song actually has an R&B flavor that is unexpectedly appealing. Halfway through, there's Hispanic percussion and a riveting bass line, with some ghostly, over-the-top singing. The ending, with those haunting strings, is one of the best moments of the album.

"Askepios" Easily my least favorite song, Bixler-Zavala's caterwauling is a bit too much, the drums are panned to the left side (which can make for uncomfortable listening), and there is nothing particularly noteworthy about Rodriguez-Lopez's guitar playing or tinkering with noises and effects. This track is a mess; it should have been reworked or scrapped.

"Ouroboruous" More sputtering noises greet the listener here. But soon the musical assault returns, as this is the closest to progressive metal The Mars Volta has ever gotten, full of overdriven, chugging guitar and heavy drums. At times, Bixler-Zavala sings over some a lone synthetic instrument, which doesn't really go with the rest of the music, but that might be medically necessary to give the listener's ears a break! The strange, processed growling sounds silly at this point, but on the plus side, the vocal melodies are once again memorable and easy to follow.

"Soothsayer" What sounds like a Middle-Eastern bazaar and a string duet begins the second longest track. Strange, upbeat gypsy music ensues and carries on during the singing. Overall, this piece reminds me of some of the material from Amputechture. Once again, Bixler-Zavala shines as a singer of wonderful melodies and exotic lyrics. The haunting ending, with the screeching violin, reminds me of "Providence" by King Crimson.

"Conjugal Burns" The band closes this bizarre outing with what initially promises to be a more straightforward song in the vein of the work on their debut, but no- not ten seconds in, Rodriguez-Lopez's wacky guitar sound and otherworldly production keep this track well in line with everything that preceded it. It's a solid closer, but not on par with many of the other songs in any department.

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Send comments to Epignosis (BETA) | Report this review (#213969)
Posted Tuesday, May 05, 2009 | Review Permalink
FruMp
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars Unlistenable.

This is a somewhat conflicted review for me. While The Mars Volta used to unquestionably be my favourite band in the days of Tremulant and De-Loused in the Comatorium, times have changed - and so has their direction. The signs were there even on the exceptional De-loused of the downhill spiral that was to await TMV. If you compare the summer demo sessions of the De-loused songs to the final album cut it is quite clear that the gritty visceral feel has given way to polished production and a pop vocal focus.

Fast forward some five years later and their latest album 'The Bedlam in Goliath' has brought many of the worst fears I held about this band into reality. Cedric's high pitched vocals which I once considered quirky are now oppressively forced into the listener's face, drenched with schoolgirl harmonies and insincerity. And layered underneath are the spastic outbursts of Omar's guitar and showoff newbie drummer Thomas Pridgen as they compete for the attention of the listener as if their life depended on it. Worst of all though is the production - unbearable. It has been so compressed for commercial 'loudness wars' era radioplay that I can't even sit through more than 5 minutes at a time without feeling physically agitated or sick. This dynamically bankrupt release also scores low in the compositional department too with none of the genuine emotion or memorable interplay of pre-amputechture releases.

Unless you are quite into top 40 production aesthetics and the sound of instruments falling down a staircase, I would advise you to stay away from this release. The oppressive and unrelenting combination of pop production and zero dynamic variance have rendered this album to me - unlistenable.

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Send comments to FruMp (BETA) | Report this review (#217343)
Posted Friday, May 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars The first thing to point out in this album is that it doesn't stop, the closest you get to a stop is the two-and-a-half minute long "Tourniquet Man", and even that is filled with psychedelic background sounds and altered vocals, which make it quite unsettling, the storm stars with the sonic explosion from the second you press the play button in Aberinkula, I do think this song may have been kind of forced, just to put a blasting song to open, well Metatron maybe would have done it better, but never mind, Metatron is absolutely fantastic, with great funky melodies (just like Ilyena, Cavalettas and Agadez), really aggressive ones, and a very sing-along chorus, which is quite fantastic.

Wax Simulacra, the Grammy single, is a song with monstrous drumming, Thomas Pridgen is a true beast, it has also a great verse and absolutely beautiful bridge, but the chorus is pretty terrible, which is shame. Next comes Goliath, for me the best track in the whole album, is simply astonishing, the fantastic verse melody combining with the fantastic chorus and then the epic outro, is the only song in the album that comes close to my absolute TMV favorites (those being Cygnus, L'via and Tetragrammaton).

Askepios and Soothsayer are the most experimental songs in the album and are fantastic, Askepios is very weird, it seems it doesn't start and doesn't go anywhere, I didn't like it at the beginning but it turned out to be one of my favorites in Bedlam. Soothsayer starts with weird ambient sounds and then an unknown instruments enters beautifully being joined by guitar and then the beautiful voice culminating in a glorious chorus.

Conjugal Burns closes, and it's with no doubt the track I like the least, it is incoherent, doesn't make a lot of sense, and also because you're already tired of mind-blasting songs like Cavalettas and Ouroborous.

The big problem in here is this being too tiring, because it has true exceptional moments, it is fantastic anyway.

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Send comments to JTP88 (BETA) | Report this review (#217347)
Posted Friday, May 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Listening to The Mars Volta is like looking at a freak.

It is very strange, like nothing else. It has bits protruding out where they wouldn't normally be. It is ugly. Although it is scary at first, it is intriguing and compelling.

And it moves. It moves with conviction and power. With all the strange bits you wonder how it moves so well.

Bedlam in Goliath is the most freakish of their albums to date. It is a really ugly album. In the previous three full studio releases, you could see something of an inner beauty in the freak. There is very little beauty in Bedlam, but it is incredibly powerful.

Sometimes this album does miss the mark (Tourniquet Man for example), but for the most part it is just really powerful grooves full of ballistic musicianship.

My standout tracks: Metatron, Ilyena, Goliath and although many disagree, Askepios

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Send comments to Tristan Campbell (BETA) | Report this review (#228850)
Posted Tuesday, July 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
Neu!mann
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Bedlam is right: listening to this year 2008 album from THE MARS VOLTA is like being locked in a small room with a rabid pit bull.

After their previous (and excellent) 'Amputechture' in 2006, I began to wonder if the band was nearing an aesthetic rut, and if they could sustain the same high level of dizzy creativity for much longer. Here's the answer: apparently not. But after diving so aggressively into the same stylistic well for so long it's hardly surprising they came up dry for once.

The album certainly opens strong. The song 'Aberinkula' is a certified Mars Volta classic, highlighting all the strongest assets of this unique band: in-your-face pyrotechnic displays of virtuosity, hypertense manic vocals, and at least one frantic instrumental break almost guaranteed to damage your brain cells.

But after that it's like a needle stuck in the same acid-filled groove, with little relief from the chaos of sound or the torrent of arcane lyrical imagery (there's too much emphasis here on the words, at the expense of the otherwise jaw-dropping level of musicianship).

As expected there's no shortage of energy. But for the first time on a Mars Volta studio album the writing seems unaccountably forced, with a conspicuous absence of memorable hooks and hummable melodies. The trademark psychedelic intensity of the band's earlier albums is shoved so hard into one ear that it pops too quickly out the other, without leaving anything like a lasting impression.

On a more personal level, I should note I waited over a year, and through multiple listenings, before deciding to settle on an opinion of the album, in the hope that it would somehow ripen with age. Sadly it hasn't yet, but difficult music sometimes has a habit of sneaking up behind you, and with luck it may still happen.

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Send comments to Neu!mann (BETA) | Report this review (#231963)
Posted Sunday, August 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
CCVP
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars So much controversy, so little to argue about

The Mars Volta has always been a rather controversial and unorthodox band. From day one their music has been widely regarded as something very different from everything else, as something innovative and, to this day, it is very hard to disagree with those statements. Every time I seek a The Mars Volta album to spin I want something different, brutally abhorrent to the mainstream public and every time I put one of their albums I am, definitively, not disappointed. Because of that it was quite shocked when I saw so many reviews deeming the album, as one of them so eagerly said, unlistenable. By now, it is important to point out that The Bedlam in Goliath is a quite different The Mars Volta album, because it is so very acid, raw and in your face, besides being a very complicated album to listen, due to the multi-layered harmony, constant superposed melodic lines and constant polyrhythm (almost every instrument plays in a different rhythm).

Bottom line is: The Bedlam in Goliath is a very different album, even for The Mars Volta standards, but does that means that the music is bad? The only answer I can think of is no because no form of music is bad or good by itself, it depends on what the people expect from it and, by what it seems, everybody is waiting for a De-loused in the Comatorium part 2 since 2003 what, let's face it, it will never happen. Therefore, instead of looking at the past and long for something that will never happen, why not enjoy the present and hope for the future? This album is precisely that: a different form of music that should and can be enjoyed without hoping that it will sound like something that it is not .

That said, it is interesting to note that, despite what fanboys and bashers say, this album is neither an astonishing piece of art, due to its rather unique style, neither it is a pile of rubbish, because of the complicated and hard-to-gasp music. The Goliath is a very good album, despite its potential to be much more, possibly due to the large amount of problems Omar Rodriguez-Lopez had wile recording, keeping him from doing a better job with in the composition department. People just get confused with new things and think that different form is equal to different quality, specially when an album is as acid and has so much raw energy as this one is.

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Send comments to CCVP (BETA) | Report this review (#238744)
Posted Friday, September 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars This band, on the evidence of their amazing first album, should have gone on to be the most creative force in modern prog. I gave up on them after Amputechture, as they seemed to be suffering badly from the law of diminishing returns. This sense of disappointment was compounded by seeing them live in a sweaty pit somewhere in England. Never in my 36 years of gig going had I seen such a bunch of self-absorbed pretentiousness at work, disappearing up their own fretboards. Not once in 2 hours did any band member acknowledge the audience. However, rather like a scab, I can't leave them alone, so as I type this I am listening to The Bedlam In Goliath. If you're in the mood to be battered by relentless noise, this album ain't bad at all, although I can't imagine I'll play it as much as the brilliant first album. Analysing each track is pointless, as they meld into one noisy beast complete with semi- screeched impenetrable lyrics, but for some unfathomable reason I quite like it. The horns seem more to the fore than before, which is no bad thing. "Agadez" stands out because I can actually tell what he's singing about, and it's played at 150 mph intead of 200! The only constant annoyance on the album is the over fussy drummer, who could do with a few "less is more" lessons. Overall, almost a return to form. I won't be seeing them live again though!

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Send comments to Starless (BETA) | Report this review (#242649)
Posted Saturday, October 03, 2009 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
2 stars 2.5 stars really!!!

Having played catch-up with TMV's discography, I finally caught them at the release of their fourth album and found myself at a block: I just didn't have anything to say about this album and it dropped out of my sight rather quickly, and now I'm returning to it after having discovered the following Octahedron?.. only to find roughly the same blank page not being filled-up by my musical ramblings. I don't know if that's the reason, but it is the only album of theirs that has been in my deck as a SACD (not sure about this, but I don't think we had the choice then, unlike before and today) and not as a normal Cd. Is this why this album seems much more difficult to me than their other works? It might sound stupid, but something's bothering me sonically speaking. Sure the religious crap is certainly not helping this old atheist getting in the thick of the album, but then again, I never really do that with TMV anyway. Generally I'm one who reads and tries to understand lyrics, but with TMV, I don't seem to bother.

Out of the starting block at 100 MPH, with the impressively fast-paced Aberininkula and rushing through Metatron and before you know it, you're in the horrible Wax Silacra, wondering what the hell happened with two increments. The title track brings the album back on the right track, but still with that irritating bit, even if one must recognize the musician's mastery of their respective instruments. It's not a bad ingredient, but the way/manner they're mixed in, I think. But while Goliath is again impressive, the album has not once slipped under the 100 MPH bar until the end of this very track. Tourniquet Man should be a welcome change, but actually it's not at all, being very irritating with its trafficked vocals and deformed music, only to Cabalettas building on that quagmire, but it's not a good idea. Agadez is again starting slower, and it is maybe the track we were waiting for sooner in the album (after Goliath), but the track picks up and some un-controlled ultra- trebles are spoiling at times what could've been one of the better song of the album. Askepios returns to the voluntary mayhem of Cavalettas. The rest of the album keeps going in an uncontrolled manner (I man quality instead if quantity)?.. and the end is insufferably sooooo far away, yikes? I feel a migraine coming?

Well I must say that writing this review has helped me sorting out a few doubts about the way I feel of this album, but one thing is certain, it is not one of their better one. I must say that I was generally very enthused by Amputechture and I really like Octahedron (especially that it corrected the only flaw of the latter by Amputating some length ;o)))), Just like I preferred the debut over Frances?. So it looks like I like the odd studio album (1, 3, 5) and much less the even ones (2, 4), which doesn't augur well for their future sixth album. Don't get me wrong, here?.Definitely still an honest TMV album, but just not my fave,.

.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#248344)
Posted Friday, November 06, 2009 | Review Permalink
snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The Mars Volta is never boring, isn't it? And usually they don't record music for romance. This album is one more confirmation that I'm right.

Look at all these reviews with one or five stars! At least, it means that they aren't boring again!

I like their two first albums, and I think, that if you like their way of thinking/doing music, you wouldn't be disappointed with "Bedlam ... " as well. I am tired to read again and again that some listeners are shocked by their noise attacks or hate Cedric's voice. Understandable. I know many people who prefer Big Mac against spicy half roasted steak. Understandable, it's just question of taste.

Any way, if you prefer mellow romantic prog with symphonic arrangements and pseudo- Gabriel voice, better forget about The Mars Volta at all. For sure, this album wouldn't sound too much pleasant for you. But if you like storm, ideas, energy, nerves and sound of breaking glass, welcome to the club.

The album in fact is different from predecessors: much more structurized, without long and deep psychedelic ambient trips, with very fast guitar/synth rhythm. Kind of controlled explosion.

But again, I am sure you wouldn't be bored till sleep ( if you will survive this album till the end). More metallic, a bit more "normal" ( in metal sense of normality), but very technically excellent and interesting, as usual with TMV.

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Send comments to snobb (BETA) | Report this review (#250325)
Posted Friday, November 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
J-Man
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars Unlistenable, Painful, Annoying, Irritating, Cacophonous, Dissonant, etc.

I have heard so many great things about The Mars Volta. They are praised from reviewers here at PA, they're always mentioned on the forums, and I was always being told I needed to hear their music. I was told that if I'm into heavier music (which I most certainly am), I would love The Mars Volta.

The Bedlam In Goliath was my response to this request. I saw it for $8.99 at my local record store, so I figured I'd just give it a shot. What was there to lose? In reality, there was a lot to lose. I might as well have burned that $8.99, rather than having my ears tortured by this disastrous album in addition to wasting my hard-earned cash.

When I first popped this in my CD player I was really wondering what people could possibly see in this sloppy excuse for an album. The lead singer has the most annoying voice I've ever heard. It's constantly in your face and irritating. The songwriting is uninspired, lacking in dynamics, and completely unlistenable. The lack of melody and quality riffs really keeps this from being an intriguing or enjoyable album. I just can't listen to this album from beginning to end. I try, but I fail and put something more listenable on.

The musicianship isn't very good at all either. As I mentioned, the vocals are extremely irritating and annoying. They are overdone and too "in-your-face" to the point where it's not even listenable. The drumming is horrendous as well. I think before each recording session Thomas Pridgen must have had 10 doses of caffeine pills, 12 cups of coffee, energy drinks, and a 2-Liter bottle of Mountain Dew. He is all over the drum kit, hitting everything he can in the course of 5 seconds. While this can usually be a good thing, most times it just doesn't fit the music on this album, and comes off as a sloppy and poorly done job. None of the other musicians do anything memorable, but the singing and drumming is just horrendous.

Up until about one week ago, I put this album away, and never planned on listening to it again. I've listened to it two or three more times recently, trying to be fair with how I would rate this album. I've tried, but I just can't give this disaster more than my lowest recommendations: a one star rating. Even that feels like too much sometimes. If the zero star was still available on our rating system, this would be a perfect contender. I just can't find anything that makes for a rewarding listening experience here. Without sounding too nice, there are a few decent moments. Occasionally there will be a nice chord progression or solo, but these are rare. On an album with a painful 77 minutes in length, this is irrelevant, though. A few minutes of redeemable music can't save this album, especially when no single song is great from start to finish.

It's really a shame that this album is so terrible. I bought their first album De-Loused In The Comatorium, and I thought that was a really good album. It showed me that The Mars Volta is much better than they come across as on this sad excuse for an album. To write the rest of this review (unfortunately), I had to listen to this album from start to finish and state my opinion of each song (which you can guess, are not positive).

THE MUSIC:

"Aberinkula"- The first song opens with a "BANG!" if you will, and it does nothing for me. The vocals are horrendous and annoying, and the rest of the musicians don't do anything special. The main riff is decent and this has a kind of cool instrumental section near the end. I almost enjoy this song at times, but all chances of me enjoying this album are destroyed later in the album.

"Metatron"- The last song ended with some of the best moments of the entire album, but this entire song reminds me why I dislike the album. This is one of the most annoying songs I've ever heard! The vocals are horrendous as usual, and this is irritating musically. This makes me cringe from beginning to end. The fast punk-ish main rhythm is just painful and cheesy. This is absolutely awful.

"Ilyena"- After the pretty terrible first two songs, this is (kind of) like a breath of fresh air. This has interesting rhythms and basslines. The drummer does a surprisingly good job throughout most of the song, though sometimes I wish he'd relax a bit. His drumming does not fit the mood of some of this song. This has a decent melody, which is a rarity on this album.

"Wax Simulacra"- By this point of the album, I'm usually bored out of my mind, and this song doesn't help. Cedric's vocals are irritating, and the music does nothing special. This is a song that strikes me as a waste of time.

"Goliath"- For one of the first times on the album, we are shown a decent riff. The drummer does a good job, though I'm still not even remotely a fan of the vocals. This has a decent melody, and it one of the best songs on the album. This has some awkward transitions, but as a whole this song is actually listenable, which trust me, is a plus on this album.

"Tourniquet Man"- For a change of pace, this is a slower piece of music (with no drumming ? thank God!). This song isn't memorable or noteworthy, but at least it's not quite as annoying as other songs here. Cedric really irritates me in this song, though. I really wish he could tone down the effects, and prove to me that he actually knows how to sing without annoying voice effects.

"Cavalettas"- At almost 10 minutes you might expect this song to do SOMETHING interesting. Well, you would be wrong. This is filled with different riffs and melodies, but none of them ever grab my attention. This is just 10 minutes of pure noise. I know I've said I don't like Cedric's voice at all, but this is one of his worst performances on the whole album. It's really a shame that the songwriting is so bad, though. The guitar playing is pretty good on this song. The effects throughout this song really annoy me, though.

"Agadez"- This has a kind of cool opening after the disastrous previous song. Most of this song sounds like one of those songs that I'd hear on the pop radio station, though. The songwriting is really uninteresting and the vocal melodies are far too predictable. This is really boring.

"Askepios"- This song has a really good instrumental section in it that proves that The Mars Volta know how to write songs. A good amount of this is still uninteresting, but the section beginning around 2:00 in is really good. It's a shame they didn't use a similar formula throughout more of the album. After the short instrumental section, the rest of the song doesn't do anything special. This song is especially disappointing because it has potential.

"Ouroboros"- This opens with a really fast and interesting Latin-tinged riff. I actually like Cedric's vocals here. This song is actually pretty good, though at some points near the middle the transitions seem disjointed. This song is decent from start to finish.

"Soothsayer"- A lot of this song sounds avant influenced, and it's actually really good! Sometimes this can drag on, but this has some good moments. I wish Cedric's vocals wouldn't have been distorted, though. I think it drags down the overall quality of the song.

"Conjugal Burns"- After the short, but good, opening, this song turns for the rest. If the entire song would have built off of the first notes of the album, I would have liked this song. The first minute or so is interesting, but after that it just progresses poorly between riffs, and does nothing worth listening to. A really poor way to end the album.

Conclusion:

The Bedlam In Goliath is a really terrible album, in my opinion. I've tried to be as fair and respectful as I possibly can during this review, but I just can't find any redeemable qualities whatsoever in this entire album. If you're looking for heavier music, there is so much great prog metal out there that you should experience before wasting your time with this disaster. Apparently there are a lot of people here that really enjoy this album. Needless to say, I am not one of them. This is only recommended to people who are die hard fans of The Mars Volta, or if you're looking for an unintelligent assault on your ears.

1 star.

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Send comments to J-Man (BETA) | Report this review (#259653)
Posted Wednesday, January 06, 2010 | Review Permalink
1 stars wow I just read a review of this album and all I have to say is......thank you for being the one to say what you said. this is absolutely a disappointment. sloppy, annoying, all over the place in a bad way...... thomas p., what are u trying to prove by playing like this? do a solo for a track if you feel like being animal, but try to fit the music better in the songs. and vocals?? please, please, please stop using those annoying effects. as a whole the music is a mess. individually it is like a bunch of guys who cant talk or communicate whatsoever. yes, there are a few shining moments, but they are sooo few. anyone who wants to get introduced to this band, should really only know who they used to be as this is a much different version. listen to the first three albums, but if u become die hard and simply must have the new albums then buy them at ur own risk. i'm sorry but this just is not talent.

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Send comments to smuggledmutation (BETA) | Report this review (#259693)
Posted Thursday, January 07, 2010 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars I have to confess that I quite like this album. I don't know why, there are all elements that I hate (absence of melody, non-pleasant sounds, not-conformist singing [e.g. weird], pace as in extreme metal). However, I like it. Even singing, I probably have soft spot for Zavala, but this album still fails to annoy me. Or put me away, make me run with tears in my eyes from the room, shut the door and set this house (with this record inside) to fire and burn these foul sounds. Which I love a lot. Probably the same reason why I like Devil Swing Orchestra, this "new" sound, completely new style (you know how innovative they are, even not so accessible for some. It's strange, but this album is far more accessible for me than their hailed first album, glorious debut which always repel me with its first song. I should probably skip it, heh) and simply everything.

4(+), to be honest, I came to this album after reading two reviews that dragged this album down with 1-star rating. I though that I'll do the same thing, but instead, I'm praising it.

But come to this album carefully, as it's not for everyone. This is why I rate with 4.

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Send comments to Marty McFly (BETA) | Report this review (#259744)
Posted Thursday, January 07, 2010 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Interesting to see how 1star reviews meant to be provoking might actually have drawn people to this album rather then frightening them away. Good. This is truly challenging Prog with a capital P that is bound to drive people away just like Yes did a good 35 years earlier. This is a band that will - and already has - inspired future generations of Prog artists and that will launch a new branch of progressive rock that will hopefully stay clear from the over-melodious indulgencies and intrinsic tendencies towards cheesiness that Dream Theatre initiated in their days. By which I don't want to say they haven't created some great music.

Anyway, it doesn't mean this album can get away un-criticized. A major problem for me is the ear-damaging loud mastering, or over-compression of the sound to be precise. Other reviewers have pointed it out already, this sort of mastering is said to be more successful for an iPod or Radio play onslaught, but actually, on an iPod this even sounds worse. In less then 20 minutes I get completely weary from the lack of dynamism and the harsh sound; especially the drums are downright awful, completely botched. The guitar is deprived of body and the bass lacks oomph. I usually tend to reserve this kind of energetic stuff as car music (yes I'm a road-pirate), but this album doesn't stand a chance there. I'll go bumping into old ladies before me in no time.

It's a shame really, as the songs are very good again and an improvement over the previous album, though that one still might grow on me. This stuff oozes dynamic rhythms, groove, great bass lines and those exquisite cacophonous and dissonant sounds that spice up my roasted steak.

A second critical point is the album's length. Music with this amount of intricacies and intensity is ideally consumed in 40 minute portions. (Yes I'm a sucker for the good old 45 minute album length). 75 minutes of it, even as inspired as they come here are simply too much, even ignoring the awful sound. TMV is a pedantic and overindulgent band indeed, but so are all great Prog bands. Favourite bands of mine like Porcupine Tree and Anekdoten don't have those indulgent leanings but I rather regard those as Rock with progressive elements, rather then true Prog Rock.

Let's try to rate this one mathematically using my 4 rules of thumb for assessing music:

Personality: 5 stars. No arguing about it. These guys ooze it.

Passion: 3 stars. This is intense music, but doesn't give the thrills I got from the first two albums. Sometimes it feels like posturing.

Song Quality: 4 stars. Only one issue here, lack of self-control

Musicality: 1 star. Sure they play excellently, but this concerns the final product, the production being part of that. As explained it is the worst possible mishmash and I'll rarely listen to it as a result.

13 divided by 4, that's ... let me think ... I need help here!

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#259785)
Posted Thursday, January 07, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars The Bedlam in Goliath is my absolute favorite TMV album. I'll admit, I'm not the biggest fan of Cedric's vocals, but they're tolerable. What truly amazes me is the progressiveness of the music! So many strange rhythms, instrumentally diverse, and great musicianship. In a very strange way, it reminds me of 21st Century Schizoid Man in it's ambition and chaos (the saxophone helps). It took me a few times, but this album REALLY grew on me. The computers add a lot to the progressiveness, too, as they haven't really been used in music too much as an instrument. It is a total ear-rape, so I can understand hesitation, but if you give it a few good tries, you will enjoy this album.

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Send comments to pfptmvandkc (BETA) | Report this review (#264715)
Posted Saturday, February 06, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Well, I can certainly understand why this is the least liked The Mars Volta album on here. It's an almost endless assault of noise from the very first second the album starts up until it ends, with little breathing room in between. Even the album's ballads are bombastic and noisy. Yet, I find myself enjoying this album more than some of the other material put out by this talented band.

De-loused is easily their best album, and they don't deviate a whole lot from that formula in their other albums outside of some stylistic differences and the incorporation of jazz and latin in some of their later albums. The Bedlam in Goliath distances itself from their previous two efforts, and essentially takes the high tempo, bombastic sections of De-loused and takes it to an entirely new level.

Cedric's vocals are certainly an acquired taste, and their lyrics have always been incredibly cryptic and border on nonsensical at times. I have no problem with the lyrics, and I have always found his voice to be interesting and it works fantastically in conjunction with the music.

Another thing I like about this album is the shorter, more concise songs. One thing that turns me away from Frances the Mute is the rather lengthy psychedelic/ambient sections throughout a lot of the songs. It made it more difficult for me to listen to, as they didn't really do much to hold my attention. I love a good ambient section, but I feel like they could have been a little bit more developed. That problem has been alleviated in Bedlam, and as such the album has much better flow.

I'm sure most people will likely be turned off by the pure noise assault of Bedlam in Goliath, but I think that those who enjoy that kind of thing will find that this is an amazingly complex album, and probably their best since De-loused in the Comatorium. My only real problem with the album is the lack of any overly new ideas.

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Send comments to AgentSpork (BETA) | Report this review (#270436)
Posted Monday, March 08, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars The Mars Volta don't mess about on The Bedlam in Goliath, or to put it another way? they most certainly do. The album is the most instant Mars Volta album to date; literally, Opener 'Aberinkula,' seems to burst out of the speakers like its trying to escape from something dangerous, appearing almost to start before you've hit the play button.

Gone are the slow burning intros, the slow electronic pieces between songs weaving a subtle web around the album, instead the listener is greeted to pure punk fury basically the whole record, albeit with a proggy aftertaste. The album is heavier than all the other Mars Volta albums, but contains just as much trippy saxophone solos (with a particularly excellent one towards the end of the aforementioned 'Aberinkula') Latin percussion, synthesizers, backwards music and bizare lyrics as you've come to expect from this unique band.

The Bedlam in Goliath has shifted its focus from 'Epic,' to 'Immediate,' and while this takes some getting used to, it is an excellent record that any serious fan should be able to enjoy.

Highlights include the catchiest ever Mars Volta song, 'Goliath,' which is a drumming masterpiece, as well as the haunting, effects soaked slow number 'Tourniquet Man,' and the supremely interesting 'Agadez.'

At first listen, the album is very brash, noisy and 'In Your Face,' with many high pitched screeching instruments competing for space in a busy stereoscopic environment that seems to be almost exclusively inhabited by things designed to hurt the human ear. Once you get past the distractions however there is a fantastic album to be enjoyed, and one that I would gladly recommend to you. If you like The Mars Volta's faster or Heavier moments, this is the album for you

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Send comments to Gentlegiantprog (BETA) | Report this review (#278835)
Posted Wednesday, April 21, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars It is easy to hear why so many prog fans are so divided on this album, and this band, for that matter. The Bedlam in Goliath is The Mars Volta's noisiest, most restless, messiest album to date, but if you're anything like me, that's perfectly fine.

After listening to their first two albums (I don't have Amputecture), it seemed to me that they had a real knack for the type of dissonant-and-sloppy-yet-musical heaviness that King Crimson featured (especially with Wetton-era albums). I feel as if their spacey, relaxed sections are better done by many other bands. This album is their "noisiest" and "sloppiest", but not in a bad way. It just seems that this style is not everyone's cup of tea.

Bottom line: if you enjoy the "loud" sections of their first two albums (and others, too....I'm only citing what I've actually heard!), then you should find that this album delivers. If you prefer the other side of TMV, I suggest you look elsewhere. I will admit that this album suffers from excessive length. This barrage is not meant to be taken for a solid hour, guys! When used in moderation, however, The Bedlam in Goliath is a great, original prog album from one of the premier bands of the new millenium.

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Send comments to Tarquin Underspoon (BETA) | Report this review (#279885)
Posted Thursday, April 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Alot of people don't like this album, due to the change in direction, but if what I know to be true, The Mars Volta never make the same album twice, so this was quite a change.

The songs were alot shorter, alot quicker and more in your face. Their was a little less tomfoolery, but most people liked them for their tomfoolery.

Although, it does have some not as strong material, but the stronger material does out weigh the weaker.

This album is also conceptually based on a oujia board mishap between the band, and thats why the lyrics are quite weird.

1. Aberinkula - The intro is pretty cool, and the hook is really catchy. The instrumental passages are werid as hell, but pretty proggy nontheless. 10/10

2. Metatron - I have only gotten into the mythology of Metatron, and I am pretty interested in the idea of him being the "voice of god". Great chorus, and some amazing vocals from Cedric. 10/10

3. Ilyena - The melodies and harmonies in this song are pretty interesting. 9/10

4. Wax Simulacra - The cathcy song. Short and sweet and some phenomnal vocals and instrumental work. 10/10

5. Goliath - Quite soul meets jazz inspired riffing, and the chorus is pretty cool. Whenever Cedric says "watch me now", like James Brown, it always makes me laugh. 10/10

6. Tourniquet Man - I get the song, I just think it's trying to become somthing it's not. 7/10

7. Cavalettes - This song changes so much, it does confuse you a wee bit. It's a bit like a brain buster. Pretty cool though. 9/10

8. Agadez - Quite an experimental feel to it. The lyrics are quite odd, as usual. 9/10

9. Askepios - Pretty cool vocals. 8/10

10. Ouroborus - Great chorus, and some fierce riffing. 10/10

11. Soothsayer - Quite doomy and droney, and beautiful in an odd manner. 10/10

12. Conjugal Burns - Pretty cool ending. 8/10

13. Candy & A Currant Bun - This is a bonus track, but it's a Pink Floyd cover, how can you not like these meeting of minds. 9/10

CONCLUSION: By far not their best, but very enjoyable nontheless.

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Send comments to arcane-beautiful (BETA) | Report this review (#289672)
Posted Thursday, July 08, 2010 | Review Permalink
Evolver
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Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
4 stars I can absolutely understand why some people don't like this band. They can be abrasive, their music takes some work to listen to, and the vocals can often sound like a deranged version of "Alvin and The Chipmunks". But if you can get past all that and give this disk a try, underneath you will find a wonderful piece of agressive prog.

To me, new drummer Thomas Pridgen makes a difference on this album. His tight, complex drumming drives the album constantly and consistently throughout. And since most of the songs blend together, it becomes difficult at times to know where one begins and the next ends, making this album appear to be a single epic piece.

I love using this album for an after work attidude adjustment. The only problem I find is that the high pitch vocals are often difficult to understand.

4.5 stars to me.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#291615)
Posted Friday, July 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars I give this five-star rating without a moment's hesitation. I've read through a good deal of the reviews here on PA, and there seems to be a general consensus that this album is all over the place, overburdened with noise and energy. For many Volta fans this results in a diluted effort, lacking some of the...dare I say subtlety? of previous releases. However, this manic, crazed, raving power is what has always attracted me to the band, and I find it to be their one true redeeming feature.

Essentially, I like The Mars Volta when they throw everything out the window. I like the hectic sound effects, the weird distortions, the random interjections of ambient nonsense. Their value as a band has always hinged on their ability to create cacophonous, brilliant coherence, and (I reiterate) this album is the pinnacle of their ability to craft compelling and chilling music from chaos. I admit, it may not be to everyone's taste, but I've always felt that The Mars Volta were headed in this direction stylistically. The Bedlam In Goliath is the august inheritor of De-Loused, my other absolute favorite release by the band. The two feel intrinsically linked to me, a beginning and an ending. The following release, Octahedron, is the quiet epitaph to this completed circuit.

All of this, of course, is not enough to secure the hallowed five-star rating. However, this album can also boast the claim of being Mars Volta's only cogent concept album. The conceit framing the album - the band's torment by the power of an evil, possessed Ouiji board - reeks of rock mythology, even if it is a load of bull. However, once the listener is aware of the 'true story' behind the album's recording and substance, it lends the work an added, brooding, evil air. Standing alone, it's an album of total freak-out music, but in conjunction with the widely disseminated story of a wicked Israeli talking board, everything gets much darker. The musical themes suddenly epitomize the threat of possession and insanity, ie there is method to the band's madness. For once

Okay. This album is not for everyone. It's akin to a demanding demonic child with severe croup, or a corkscrew roller-coaster that refuses to stop and let you off. But persevering past the veneer of sheer crazy is well worth the effort. Giving in to the trip is the first stage to completely enjoying this very loud, very long, very excellent release.

Oh, and the lyrics suck. But that's nothing new.

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Send comments to Lozlan (BETA) | Report this review (#301961)
Posted Monday, October 04, 2010 | Review Permalink
zravkapt
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Post Rock Team
3 stars This CD is LOUD. Most of the music here is rather intense. With Bedlam TMV wanted to get back to their punk roots. But not much here is really punk sounding, except the end of "Goliath" and the beginning of "Cavalettas". Those two songs bookend the only mellower song "Tourniquet Man". This is the only ballad here but comes off as filler; it's not as good as the ballads on the band's first three albums. Another long album from this band. Fortunately the two weakest songs, "Soothsayer" and "Conjugal Burns", also happen to be the last two songs.

The two strongest songs on the album are "Agadez" and "Ouroborous". The latter is very metal sounding. It has a neat synth part which sounds like an accordion. There is some kind of wind instrument on a few songs. I'm not sure what it is exactly but it's neither a sax or trumpet. "Ilyena" is one of the better songs here. The second half is almost hip-hop sounding. I could see somebody sampling the beat here. There's not too much sound effects or studio manipulation of vocals as compared to earlier TMV albums. The 8-minute "Metatron" and the 9 1/2 minute "Cavalettas" don't seem as long as they actually are.

Cedric's vocals here are not bad at all. His lyrics are still in 'WTF' territory, however. You can barely notice the keyboards half the time. They get buried under the guitars and drums. This was the first album with new drummer Thomas Pridgen. Here he's a maniac on his drumkit. The artwork is cool and is some of the best on any TMV album. I'm not sure which I like less: Bedlam In Goliath or Octahedron. Both are nowhere as good as the first three. But still good. 3 stars.

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Send comments to zravkapt (BETA) | Report this review (#307245)
Posted Friday, October 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is the second Mars Volta album i heard after Frances The Mute, and to me it is a vast improvement. The music here has the typical Mars Volta energy you expect to hear with some excellent guitar passage, fantastic heavy riffing and a sound in songs like Goliath and Agadez that is often reminiscent of Muse. I have never been very impressed by the production on Mars Volta albums and Bedlam is no exception. The vocals are often painfully overproduced with many effects added to Zavala's voice that often come across as very distracting. This is my favourite Mars Volta album with some of the best music that can be found in their catalogue and a unique, unpredictable and fantastically energetic sound.

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Send comments to topographicbroadways (BETA) | Report this review (#379677)
Posted Thursday, January 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars Okay, so Bedlam In Goliath was bad...

Usually when I first listen to a Mars Volta album, I think "This is brilliant!" but I know that I will still find more and more in it as I listen to it over time. I've had Bedlam In Goliath for a while now, and it still doesn't do anything for me.

The music is definitely Mars Volta, it still has seemingly random time signature changes, and a scattered chaos of instruments. What is wrong here is that that's all it is. Randomness and chaos. I appreciate The Mars Volta because they seem to structure their chaos. Look at De-Loused In The Comatorium. They are all over the place, but not one second sounds like a mistake, as most of Bedlam In Goliath sounds. Bedlam In Goliath sounds like a parody of The Mars Volta.

Look at Aberinkula, for instance, the first track of the album. What is really going on here? They've layered on effects in order to produce a noise behind the song. The drums are unexciting and monotonous, as well as the guitar. Around 3:30 is the best part of the song, what sounds like a recapture of Amputechture, from there on the song progresses nicely, outside of a recurring saxophone bit where the saxophonist seems to be trying to sound as untalented as possible (this would work in the song, did it not repeat). What is killing me here is that they have good material in there, but they shroud most of the album in random noise and repeat certain lines over and over as if they needed to fill space on the album("Maybe I'll break down" for example).

Metatron is a good song on the album, despite the repeating choruses. It has quality instrumentation and a good melody for the vocals. Out of the 8 minutes, I would say about 6 are enjoyable (the rest is noise blasting and choruses). This song would receive 4 stars.

Wax Simulacra seems rushed, much too rushed. The "don't know, don't know" part at the end could have really gone somewhere. The first minute lacks anything of note, outside of the fact that it is lacking.

Goliath. The title song of the album. The first whiff of the song sounds great. ten the vocals come in and for 4 minutes it's agitating choruses over and over. After that is a faux Amputechture again, as well as it being much too rushed. The lyrics are just embarassing (I mean "I feel a miscarriage coming on"?). The end of the song features inchorent screaming behind the agitating chorus that has been repeated at least 8 times at that point. So there's three sections of the song: Agitating choruses, faux Amputechture that sounds refreshing, then back to agitating choruses but with worse lyrics.

Tourniquet Man is a foreshadowing of Octahedron in my eyes. It is the best piece of the album, though it is plagued by distorted vocals near the end. I just wish it were longer.

Cavalettas is the first real eysore of the album. It goes nowhere, but manages to get there with what seems to be the same drums that have been used the entire album, guitars that horribly misportray the true talent of Omar A. Rodriguez. The song shifts back and forth between several different modes, each featuring some sort of noise produced by an instrument, rather than music (sirens or the guitar biting the same note over and over). Wind instruments appear occasionally, though do not augment the song. In short, it is unstructured and features instrumentation that do shame to each of the players' talent. The end of the song, like most of the songs on the album, is better than the rest of the song. It does well on showcasing Cedric Bixler-Zavala's strength as a singer. However, he's sionging the words that you've now heard a hundred times already in the song. Not enough to float the song above 2 stars (where the greater part of the album resides).

Agadez rambles on for three and a half minutes making the same mistakes as Cavalettas, but this time with a better guitar riff (that repeats over and over with the chorus). After that three and a half minutes, it enters some decent 3 or 4 star music that manages to carry on for a little less than two minutes before another rampaging chorus claims king of the hill and finishes out the song.

Askepios has potential in its opening. The trumpets are fantastic, but then the song just stops and begins again with disastrous results. It never seems to pick itself up again, though adding in the same trumpets (which again stop and the song begins again). This new part (really, they're just repeating the same thing in a different manner) layers effects on the vocals aren't pleasant to listen to. It builds up again, but instead of going back to trumpets (which are the best part of the song), it branches off into a section trademark of the album. "Help me come alive, help me come alive, help me come alive, help me come alive." Rather, the music needs reviving. The song ends on that chorus fading away. Nothing coming out of its potential.

Ourobouros is a treat. It, like the rest of the album, repeats a chorus "Don't you ever, ever, ever, ever trust my virtue," howver, for once, it works. The different manners in which they play the piece are exciting and the fast-paced motion doesn't seem like rushing, but instead fits the mood of the song. It sounds like what the rest of the album was trying to be. There are moments in the second half of the song where I fear it will return to blasting unitelligent noise, but it always picks up again. Admittedly, by the end, the repeating lyrics "It'll be hard to hold" do not hold my attention any longer.

Soothsayer is a slower song, finally. The background is random noises again, but they're soft. The vocals are fantastic... But the guitar... It shrieks and blasts notes nobody wants to hear. However, it only appears in its solo (while stating mostly out of the way the rest of the song). The background noise begins to elevate and eventually overtakes the rest of the piece and suddenly you're in a church setting. Which isn't all that bad, it's oddly creepy, but melodious at the same time (the church choir), but not what I want on a Mars Volta record, though, admittedly, it fits the song a little. A better song off the album, but still not that great.

By Conjugal Burns I'm just glad it's ending. The song simply shifts between different choruses (side note: It's not that I hate choruses, many Mars Volta songs have fantastic choruses. It's that these choruses fill the album. It's about 60-70% choruses. While this does a good job of demonstrating how much range Bixler-Zavala can get, it provides no variety), and at one point it goes into a phase where it seems a dog is barking repeatedly. A vicious one, too. Of course, this is just effects on his voice again. It comes out of nowhere, fills some time space, then back into choruses until suddenly it ends. The sound of silence is glorious.

I love The Mars Volta. This was just a poorly manufactured album. With Octahedron (as well as De-Loused, Frances, and Amputechture) in mind, I can't wait for their next album. I hate to give a two star rating to one of my favorite bands, but only one song was truly good, two more were decent, and the rest were failures. Bedlam In Goliath had many disasters in production (in the actual production, not simply the music. They had some bad things happen). Maybe this album was just a transitional phase for them, or maybe they were trying new things. With all the rushed music, time killers, agitating choruses, ill-thought effects, random noises, random structure, and (crushingly) poor instrumentation, this album just doesn't work.

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Send comments to PorcupineThief (BETA) | Report this review (#457919)
Posted Tuesday, June 07, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Bedlam in Goliath ? 2008 (2.6/5 almost 2 stars) 9 ? Best Song: I don't care

And this, my fellow travelers of light and sound, is where I make haste in beating my grand departure. I withstood the sheer battering ram of pomposity and verve, but only when they endeavored to possess themselves of wit and conviction. This beast is a debacle of misled ideals and inconsistencies which betray a boredom welling inherently in the group due to lack of innovation. They whacked and whomped and latin rhythmed until their heels were sore, and now they reap the fruits, poisoned and inscrutably bare. It doesn't help in any form that though bereft of vision, they decided to yet continue their trend of making the album ass long, and it brings me to a vehement resentment I have for the CD culture ? just because you can fit eighty minutes of music in one album, doesn't mean you're required to. In fact, it's more than overkill when you don't keep the fire burning. 'Aberinkula' doesn't begin being worth a damn until the solo halfway through, and even that's a silly retread. Cedric sounds even nerdier and less entertaining than he ever has, as if he doesn't any more care.

Another slight against The Bedlam in Goliath is the awfully unchanging tempo and form ? each song, no matter the duration, will be a uptempo rocker without deviation. Don't talk to me about 'Tourniquet Man', which is a short, sorry excuse to pad the record's midsection. Also don't talk to me about all the silly effects that introduce nearly each song. The guitars will be faceless, the drumming will be fast and incomprehensible without due reason, and the singing ? he just sounds as if he's reverted back to the age of twelve. Geez, boys, if I wanted a typical hard rock record for 2008, don't you think I'd have enough of it to go around?

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Send comments to Alitare (BETA) | Report this review (#459130)
Posted Saturday, June 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
1 stars Disappointing

Introduction

Here we are again... more than an hour! Same problem as every band, same problem as their fans grow in numbers: a lot of ''nice, I like it!'' without understanding even a tune. While in this site TMV are signed like Heavy Prog (which is maybe the right category for them), a lot of teens start to listen to this new Metal (they think) group. Vanished the illusion of a full experimental group with the fourth release we get a well rounded formula: long disc (77 minutes this time), shouts, distortions, elecrtonic soundscapes at the beginning...

Main Theme

... and don't forget the everlasting drum-noise. Ok maybe for this album the name is just right: bedlam as nothing here can be considered something like a track: there are too many parts of too many things, from Bixler-Zavala's voice that is a pain for the ears, to the frenzied mayhem of drums! Here we got a sub-par with Day of the Baphomets for the whole album, some songs just repeat themselfs, in a crescendo of frustration and at the end pointless needing of a more and more difficult experimentation (experimentation that doesn't come at all, as said some passages are repeated). Plus as said before we have the same beginning for every song with electronic noises (yep, they are), followed by a non-stop of ''frenzied drum-noise'' that goes on background when the singer start to shout on the microphone or the guitarist plays his instrument! At least something good? Some passages recall the good core from Amputechture but the complete work don't match the nice Octahedron which stands as a witness of this giant mistake. Special mention to Ilyena for the minute of prelude and the minute and 15 seconds of reprise everything in just 5 min and an half!

Coda

Since they aren't making experiments with their music beside the disjointed chaos I won't rate the ''fresh new style'' of their music giving here only a poor little star. Why only one? Well... since the only tracks that worth something are Goliath and Soothsayer and they don't match even Day of the Baphomets I don't think there is any apology to give another star.

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Send comments to Erik Nymas (BETA) | Report this review (#460782)
Posted Monday, June 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars "never heard a man speak like this man before"

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

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

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

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

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

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Send comments to thesameoldfears (BETA) | Report this review (#531813)
Posted Sunday, September 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars 7.5/10

Being a non-fan of this American group I really do not know if I could write an unbiased review of them on another album. Following trends in the opposite about their albums here in PA I like them as the scores of users decreases. That is, while I have not found much to be enjoyed on De-Loused In The Comatorium and Frances the Mute (his two best-rated albums) I really fell in love with Amputechture and even I can say about The Bedlam in Goliath.

TBiG is by far the most controversial album this band has ever produced. Which is odd, considering that it has the same formula as before: aggression and experimentation with a healthy dose of originality! All I can say is that while listening to him was not the same pleasant experience of his predecessor is a step forward in the career of TMV and is a sadly underrated work!

In fact it is possible to identify the aspects of this album that reviewers despise (and some of which I also despise): there is a certain amount of material "filling", plenty of effects and sound collages, avant-garde passages and disconnected, etc.. In fact, initially I was tempted to give it three stars, but heard a closer look made ​​me realize that the positives outweighed the negatives and that the whole was greater than the sum of its parts (phrases cliches, but perfectly correct).

The first half of the second album really excels with songs like Aberinkula, Metatron and Ilyena (especially this one, with its hypnotic electronic effects) and best album. Wax Simulacra is a "filler" in my opinion, and not there is nothing in it that makes me believe that she deserved the Grammy for best Hard Rock song. Goliath is another highlight, while Tourniquet Man is a quiet interlude (the only song calm this album) and provides the listener time to breathe before ...

... The second half, which is exactly the focus of controversy (among many) in this album. And I'm on the side of those who hate Cavalletas,Agadez and Askepios, because these songs just take the shine of The Bedlam ... and certainly do not deserve it. Ouroboros on the other hand lost and catches her breath as other reviewers have pointed out is the closest thing the band has come to make progressive metal (listen to the introduction - you'll know what I'm talking about!). Soothsayer is one of the best songs here, I love your opening with various exotic stringed instruments until the song begins to develop. It's a shame that it passes too quickly, but would not be a problem if they would take away the terrible three songs mentioned above. Another song is ended disposable Conjugal Burns, who really does not do much for me.

Among the members I really need to mention the drummer Thomas Pridgen, which shows a suitable substitute Jon Theodore. His performance is being questioned by several reviewers, but I can say that with his frenetic style it really fits in the band!

4 stars. Better than talk, but less than its predecessor.

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Send comments to voliveira (BETA) | Report this review (#567792)
Posted Monday, November 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
Negoba
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Modern Day Freak Out

Eat an entire dark chocolate cheesecake. Then drink a pot of coffee. Then stick your finger in a light socket and leave it there. You've now approximated the mood The Mars Volta is trying to evoke with A BEDLAM IN GOLIATH. Overstimulation is the single word to describe it. As manic as Cedric's screeches over Omar's barely controlled chaos had been in the past, this really is there stimulant-induced peak. Obviously, this isn't for everyone.

I'm not sure it's even for me. This happened to be the first Mars Volta album I had, and though I kinda sorta liked it, it prevented me from checking out their other work. Because once you've finished this album, you've had more than enough. From the opening clamor of "Abernikula" to the slippery melody of "Ilyena" to the ethnic trippiness of "Soothsayer" to the metallic grind of "Ouroboros," this is where TMV basically took their adrenaline crown and made it beyond the reach of mortal man.

Recently, I've been checking out the remainder of TMV's catalog. Some of their other albums make more musical sense. Many of the songs are better written. In fact, TMV's other extreme, OCTAHEDRON, truly delights me with its melodicism. But when that little voice in the back of the mind says "How about some Mars Volta?" what it's asking for is chaotic intensity. And for that you're just not going to beat THE BEDLAM IN GOLIATH.

It has taken a LONG time for me to appreciate this album. But like much of the best prog, repeated listens reward here. The extra close listens I give to review have really helped my appreciation for TBiG. Assuming that the emotional space is something that appeals, this disc is worth the time. To be sure, sometimes for me I'm just not in this headspace. But when I am, nothing is going to hit it like this. I understand why the debut gets the high ratings because it still has the hungry energy of a new band, and treads a better balance between the different aspects of the band's sound.

This one is caffeine is sonic form.

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Send comments to Negoba (BETA) | Report this review (#723839)
Posted Thursday, April 12, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars I guess I would place BEDLAM IN GOLIATH as my 3rd favorite The Mars Volta release after DELOUSED and AMPUTECTURE. Both of those albums had wonderful tracks in abundance. BEDLAM has some but overall the album is less cohesive as the other two. This is a very loud and rocking album. Be careful when you first listen to the opening number "Aberinkula"- it will knock your speakers down. 12 tracks are here with not really a bad one among them. It does tend to drag a bit in a few places but overall, I can give this 3 1/2 stars rounded up to 4 stars

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Send comments to mohaveman (BETA) | Report this review (#753028)
Posted Sunday, May 13, 2012 | Review Permalink

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