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The Mars Volta - Scab Dates CD (album) cover


The Mars Volta

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3 stars I have yet to catch THE MARS VOLTA live, so hearing what they sound like live was something I looked forward to hearing. I've read some reviews that they put on an amazing show. Unfortunately a DVD would be the better medium for this band as the visual intensity would be nice to see.

"Scabdates" is a great live album in that none of the songs are played like their studio counterparts, so it's a worthy addition to their catalog. Their live sound is more experimental then their studio work which I think will challenge the listener more. The last reviewer mentioned that there are no tracks from "Francis The Mute", but this is incorrect. Six of the 12 songs are from their lastest album, two from "De-Loused", one from the EP and the remaining 3 are new to this release.

Overall it's a solid live album, but I think they should have put out a double album along with a DVD to better capture their live show.

Report this review (#54822)
Posted Saturday, November 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Just to clear this up about whether there are tracks from Frances the Mute on this album (although in Part IV, an extention of Cicatriz, there are a few samples from Cassandra Geminni.) I suppose one could say that there are two songs from Deloused in the Comatorium, but they are so different from the original that I wouldn't even say that that would apply. This is roughly 80% all new music, and even the old stuff is rather retooled.

Coming into this album I had very low expectations because of the previews the band released--most notably the wretched excerpt from the end of "Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt," in which Cedric wails "who brought me here?" in a way very remeniscient of an angsty teen bawling about his imagined gripes. HOWEVER, it turns out I was pleasantly suprised.

Let's be frank. The vocals Cedric has to preform aren't easy in the least. And this man has never stayed still on stage a moment in his life. So it stands to reason that at times the vocals won't be perfect; and they aren't, but the end result in the great majority of the album is very good. Omar's guitar work on this album is fantastic, and the rest of the band also preforms very well. As has already been stated, this work is highly improv, but also has an excellent sound collage lasting about 10 minutes in the latter half of the album, on the last track, which builds to a frenzy for the finale. Also, the words the listener is left with are pure gold. But you'll hear that, I'm sure.

All in all, yes, this would have made a much, much better DVD, I'm sure. I haven't seen The Mars Volta live yet, but I have seen At the Drive-In, and if that's any indication of the energy they put in nowadays (and everyone tells me it is) then I can't wait for these guys to put out a DVD. This CD certainly isn't an essential, but it's pretty darn good.

Report this review (#55655)
Posted Wednesday, November 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Yep this is the first offical live album from the fantastic Mars Volta and i have to say my expectations for this album was unusually high, i had heard lots of great reviews about The mars volta's live concerts and was expecting something that was not of the ordinary side of things...

Well then the album is esentially three songs (Concertina,Cicatriz and Take The Veil Cerpin taxt) which are all split into 12 parts and features alot of jamming and improvisation. The album starts of with some baby crying and some words in spanish before it flawlessy slips into Take the veil...and i can tell you if you thing the Mars Volta sounded loud and frentic on the studio albums just wait till you hear this! Sometimes the frentic pace can get a bit too much and the slower parts are the best ones in my opinion. Also Cedrics vocals is not that good always although he sings good on the new parts it can sound a bit squeaky sometmes. All in all i also think the mixing of this album is a bit weak as the drums are barely heard and the guitars get too loud in the mix. (Perhaps it's because of omar is mixing the album.) The most interesting bit is ofcourse the 48 minute Cicatriz ESP which has alot of great riffs and improvisations and on the last Part you can hear some bits of music from both Eunuch Provocateur and Cassandra Geminni and it sounds really strange but good anyways.

All in all i really think that this album could have been alot better if it has been released as a double or perhaps as a Live DVD. Concentrating on just 3 songs from De-loused and the Tremulant EP is a bit boring when Frances The Mute is so much better. Also i think this album is really just for the hardcore fans of Frances The Mute because there is still alot of frentic and ambient sections im here. Good album albeit a bit disapointing, although there is expected to come a proper Live DVD from the frances the mute tours!

Standout track: Cicatriz ESP(The whole thing)

Similar music: How The West Was Won-Led Zeppelin-Really loud and dirty sound whit alot of extended parts and improvisations, my favourite Zeppelin album!

Report this review (#56240)
Posted Monday, November 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars I just love The mars Volta, because it is a band that could always do something out of the expectations. They did it again. Am i gonna say that this album is the greatest i have heard..NO!!!, Of course i like this album very much so, and songs like: take the veil...and the four parts of Cicatriz are incerdibly great songs, i have this album since one week and i did listen to it about 15 times and i know i will play it another 100 times or so. Why not a 4 or 5 stars review than? Simply because, there is a small deception that some of their greatest songs do not figure on the live, also because at moments the sound is not very good and also the singing of Zavala is not always (95% yes) as powerful as it is with the great Frances the mute and The fantastic Coma.

If your already a fan buy it it is worthed a 4-5 stars album, if Coma or Frances first.I think it is a good live album, but even if they did special things, i am inpatiently waiting for the next studio album!!!!

Report this review (#57284)
Posted Monday, November 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars The Mars Volta is an extremely awesome band. There isn't anything that is relatively close to the Mars Volta. I have a feeling that this is a foreshadow of things to come in the future. This is definitely a cd that should be listened to. It hardly sounds like a live album. The only thing that sounds live is the vocals. You wouldn't imagine they can make those noises live. I only wish i could see them live. At least it gives me a good idea of what they are like. My favorite songs are 2, 4, and 6. Check it out if possible.
Report this review (#60984)
Posted Tuesday, December 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars This cd is my first exposure to the mars volta. I must say I am tremedously impressed by it. Excellent musicianship throuout, with several spacey sections thrown in for good measure. Ocassionally there will be a hint of mainstream rock with to be honest sort of annoys me but its all good it doesnt really make that much of a difference, the album is still very good.
Report this review (#61486)
Posted Friday, December 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Ah, a live glimpse of The Mars Volta, one of the greatest, most mind blowing bands of the current age. After De-Loused and the absolute masterpiece of Frances, not many people know where TMV are going to go next. They are extremely unpredictable (in a good way of course), and this seems to be the interim album, recording between, I think, May 2004 and May 2005.

Even a real, die-hard Mars Volta fan would look at the back of the album, look at the tracks, and recognize only two or three tracks from the entire thing. Take the Veil..., Concertina, and Cicatriz would ring some bells, but we'd get confused by the absence of the "ESP" after the word "Cicatriz".

Also, the weird track listing is enough to throw anyone off. Take The Veil... and Cicatriz have two and 4 subsection, respectively. However, they are separate songs. What I mean is this: Take the Veil is track two, and its two sections are 3 and 4. Odd, huh. Well, that's how they do it. It's more adding on two sections to Take the Veil... and adding 4 sections to Cicatriz, which does the same thing.

Anywho, on to the album itself. The Mars Volta live is much different than studio TMV. They've always been a more loose-feeling, semi-jamming band, but live, that influence is fully taken through. The free, seemingly drug-induced jamming thrives throughout, and it is fantastic. (To explain why I say drug-induced, just listen to the 4 sub-parts of Cicatriz, what with the bits of no music and voices right in the middle of all the stuff.)

Also, one note is that Cedric's vocals are really changed. Just listen to the way he sings "A mass of gallon sloth" in Take the Veil... I personally think that Cedric is in the top 5 vocalists of current times, among the best of all time as well. He's just... different, live. It takes a bit of getting used to, I'm not gonna lie.

Yet, overall, it provides for some enjoyable stuff. I love the band, and this is a very good output from them. 3/5 stars.

Report this review (#62742)
Posted Monday, January 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Although it dosen't have any 'official' new songs, this live album is definately no lower than any of their previous two studio-albums, and EP. Live, the Mars Volta are an incredible force of energy that have to be experienced first hand to really experience it fully. This live album gives an excellent glance at the experimentation that is done on-stage, and the brilliant elongations of previously 7-8 minute songs, to 48 minutes.

There are only 3 real 'songs' on it, but there are many extentions to them that are also given names, such as 'Gust of Mutts', and 'Haruspex'.

Take the Veil, Cerpin Taxt: A bit different from the origonal De-loused version, it is extended with two segments of synthesized, techno-like swirls of mind expansion. It's blasted with the memmories of the lost Cerpin Taxt, and accompanied by the spine-chiling wails of Cedric-bixler Zavala.

Concertina; From the Ep Tremulent, it is definately an impressive version of the origonal. It is played much faster, but the haunting feel of the song is not deminished because of this. It actually is a little more creepy, because of the echoed voice of Cedric.

Cicatriz; Brilliant. Enough said.

All in all, the Mars Volta has amazed us with their full potential and there are hopefully many projects coming from them that will come out and continue to amaze us all. Although this is an excellent live cd, I urge everyone reading this, to go out and find a Mars Volta concert. There's absolutely nothing like it.

R.I.P. Cerpin Taxt

Report this review (#65615)
Posted Friday, January 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is an amazing live sample of what the Mars Volta is capable of on stage. I wouldn't put in on the category of live albums like "Seconds Out" or "A Live Record" or "Yessongs" because all those are double albums and have a lot of material from their studio albums. This one has only a few songs from past albums and even those ones are changed. Not their live milestone but still worth checking out! Excelent musicianship, good, long jammings and lots of weird guitar and keboard samplings.
Report this review (#69079)
Posted Saturday, February 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
1 stars I'll contradict everyone and state that it is a rather dull album in a sense that the songs all sound the same. 40 minutes into the album you are still not sure if they are on the first song. Sometimes they are jamming over the same chord for 10 minutes - not a whole lot of excitement, from a purely progressive point of view. A raw, repetitious, noisy mess that would appeal to those who like ritualistic three chord tunes played at max volume - a punk fan. Not for prog afficionados. If you are seeking loud prog music with a hard edge, try The Flower Kings for a much more rewarding listening experience.
Report this review (#70843)
Posted Wednesday, March 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
1 stars Big apology for hard core fans of The Mars Volta. This time I have to give one star rating because this live album has nothing to offer at all. It's probably the band tries to express their weirdo through much more exploration on sound effects. Not onle that sound effects that bother me but also the sonic quality of the CD. It sounds like a bootleg recording with no effort to make the sound mixing smoother. I don't know on which angle people could enjoy this album. Oh yeas, I do enjoy the band's "Deloused .." and "Frances The Mute" albums. But in this album, I cannot find which angle I should position my ears to digest the music wholeheartedly. Too many distortions produced from guitar. The sounds are too raw and too rough. But that's what makes this album interesting for some people. But it's not for me. Sorry, I still have other good prog albums worth listening than this one. Big apology for those die hard fans. Even though it's poor but I own it also for the sake of having a complete set of TMV albums. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#73528)
Posted Thursday, March 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album is certainly worthy of a place on the shelf next to De-Loused and Frances.

The live version of "Concertina" is perhaps the most spot-on performance of a song I've ever heard. A very good rendition indeed.

"Take the Veil" (all 3 parts), "Caviglia", and "Haruspex" are all solid, but aren't "real" songs. Don't get your hopes up, kiddies. These tracks aren't stellar, but the final track "Cicatriz" will make an impact on you. I get goosebumps at least three times in its duration, much the same way parts of the studio version used to do the same for me. This impossibly long live jam showcases the talents of Omar in ways that proves one man is, in fact, capable of making all that noise. His work here is impeccable and gives this album one star on his own... at least.

The reason this album is not five stars is twofold. First is Cedric. He's pretty reliable and, in a studio setting, is one of the best singers I've ever heard. I've never had the money or the good fortune to see TMV live, but Cedric is undoubtedly being strained by the songs here. He's not up to par at the beginning, but by the end of the pentapartite "Cicatriz" he's a lame duck who is, I'm sad to say, almost painful to listen to. This is unfortunate, because it's where Omar shines. I'd love to see the two on top of their game simultaneously.

Second is TMV's obsession with ear-piercingly high sound effects, especially in the first and last tracks, which prevent me from turning up the volume high enough to appreciate the music without the fear of some unknown hearing mechanism rupturing. I wonder if their sound technicians are in cahoots with Miracle Ear.

This album is worth it only for all the parts of "Cicatriz", which undoubtedly, despite all its weaknesses, is one of the top live tracks in my library. Hearing the band let loose live is still a sacred experience for me.

"Thanks for coming out, everybody. Go home and take a bath." -- Cedric

Report this review (#76769)
Posted Sunday, April 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars This one really is a mixed bag! On the other hand the music is of course great, The Mars Volta delivers an energetic and experimental live appearance. The songs take off in every possible direction, yet somehow still stay recognizable. "Take The Veil Cerpin Taxt" is one of TMV's best songs and I like this live version a lot. The musicianship is stellar and Cedric's high-pitched vocals sound pretty good too. However I really think this kind of gig should be seen and heard as a complete audio-visual experience. In those circumstances it would be mindblowing; to see Jon play the drums and watch Omar and Cedric totally freak out on the stage. But as an album this seems a bit incomplete, especially with the strange sound effects taking a lot of space on the album. 3+ stars, really.
Report this review (#77861)
Posted Thursday, May 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
1 stars As an avid fan of The Mars Volta, the release of this album almost broke my little heart. I remember salivating the night before, hardly able to sleep, waiting until 9am when Tower Records opened so I could get my hand on the latest Mars Volta release. Finally a documentation of their fantastic live performances giving me the ability to enjoy those long improvised jams, strange effects, and raw energy anywhere I went. Up until then I had only a few shoddy bootlegs, and memories of the three times I had seen them live to sustain my appetite. But I had only a few measly hours to wait to fix that. And as you can tell there's a big disappointment coming, and it came with my first listen to "Scab Dates."

This album fails to capture anything of what The Mars Volta are like live. The whole thing comes across as a studio album(with incredibly poor production). They do so much cutting and editing especially on the last song that the raw energy, and even sloppiness of the live performance that the album is supposed to be capturing is lost. When they're not destroying the songs with studio effects, loops, and paste jobs, the quality of the recording is so bad that I can't hear the actual good jams going down.

Do not judge what a Volta concert is like from this album as you will be grossly mistaken. The only solid and representational performance here is of Concertina, but even then much better version exist. My tip to all, get a good bootleg instead of buying this album.

Report this review (#82141)
Posted Tuesday, June 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is only partially a live release. For this album, Omar took some of the bands live recordings, and put them together with some of his own studio experimentation, made up of other recordings he found and made while touring.

So what we have here is three excellent live tracks. Take The Veil Cerpin Taxt (which is divided into three parts for no real reason), Concertina, which is faster and far more energetic than the studio version, and Cizatriz. The first four (3?) parts of Cizatriz are the only parts worth listening to. Part IV of the so called 40 minute jam is just 20 minutes of studio experimentation by Omar.

The other tracks on the album are interesting, but very skippable, and probably only worth a few listens. The live material is excellent, though the Live EP is probably more representative of their sound in concert.

Until the band releases a full live album, or a DVD of a full concert, Scab Dates, the Live EP, and bootlegs are all we have of Mars Volta recorded live. This is probably the weakest of the three, but still has enough great moments to justify a purchase from hardcore Volta fans.

Report this review (#82168)
Posted Wednesday, June 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars When The Mars Volta started to break into the music scene, it was their live performances that generated the most excitement, because uncompromising energy and experimentation like theirs is incredibly rare. Following up their critically acclaimed Frances the Mute, The Mars Volta provides a seamless collection of live music that plunges the listener full force into their incredibly psychedelic world.

There is no indication where this album was recorded, only that it was recorded from May 2004 to May 2005. The few indications that this is indeed a live album include brief clapping, the sound quality of some of the instruments, and the goodbye that Cedric Bexler provides at the end. It is the incredible guitar solos, bizarre sound byte incorporations, and Bexler's uncanny and volatile voice that create a surreal experience unmatched in live albums. Unlike most live albums that clearly distinguish each track, this album is one seamless performance that includes tracks from their various albums without taking the time to point out their origin.

Those familiar with Frances the Mute will find the same tension-building moments that act as passageways to the next track, but this time the instrumentation is heightened both soulfully and by experimenting with furious playing rather than jarring interruptions of silence. Few bands can duplicate the impact that they have while performing live, but the Mars Volta encapsulates their one-of-a-kind show in an album that is a new experience each and every time you listen to it

Report this review (#84975)
Posted Thursday, July 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars Few live albums are able to convey to the listener the live experience. THE MARS VOLTA are a stupendous live band: how does this album measure up?

Dismally, in a word.

A THE MARS VOLTA concert generally has more shape than this, more energy, more presence. The amount of studio tinkering has laid an impenetrable plastic surface on this performance, making it almost impossible for me to enjoy. The songs are practically unrecognisable jamfest extensions of the originals. I have bootlegs that far better reflect the live THE MARS VOLTA experience. What a swizz - robbing fans a chance to hear their favourite TMV songs live! (Unless your three favourite songs are Cicatriz, Concertina and Take the Veil.) We don't need a 42 minute version of 'Cicatriz'.

There's a great deal to admire here, but not much to enjoy. Don't judge THE MARS VOLTA on this disc. Go catch 'Drunkship' or 'Roulette Dares' on YouTube instead.

Report this review (#137712)
Posted Tuesday, September 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
3 stars Fans of Mars Volta who haven't seen the band live yet (like me), will probably be disappointed by this attempt to capture a performance which comes across as too ephemeral to understand second-hand; there is a lot going on here, but much of it is so abstract as to be unintelligible directly-- it's best just to go along for the ride.

That being said, "Scab Dates" features powerful versions of a few great Mars Volta songs, which have plenty of improvisation and tweaked moments to almost make them unrecognizable until Bixler sings a chorus or two. The moments where we do get to listen to straightforward guitar destruction and various instrumental awesomeness is quite enjoyable.

The end result is one which will usually impress the listener but also leave them scratching their head, wondering just what the heck is going on stage at the time... or why the middle of songs fade to voyeuristic/psychedelic voice-overs and fadeouts. These crazy moments do detract from the music, but, hey-- you like Mars Volta BECAUSE they're crazy, right?

Setlist 2 Instrumental Performances 4 Stage Energy 3 Live Experience 4

Report this review (#140387)
Posted Monday, September 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is not your typical live album, it was very different then what i expected. I thought it would have around 10 live songs instead there are only are only three songs with lots of improve and these songs are cut up into sections, each section of these song are given strange titles. But the Mars Volta always do everything different from the norm. Some great highlights are Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt which features some great bass playing from Juan in And Ghousted pouts. A great live version of take the veil. And there is also a live version concertina, this track is much faster from the Tremulant version, with some sax added by Adrian. And the highlight of the live album is Cicatriz ESP, in Part 3 of Cicatriz there is an amazing solo from Omar and some soaring vocals by Cedric, I think his voice is better live than in studio. This is a great live album by the Volta, but this album is not for every one. Mainly only for volta fans or experimental rock fans. 4 stars for a unique live album
Report this review (#151962)
Posted Tuesday, November 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Despite everything I've said about how great the Mars Volta are, this is too avant-garde/ pretentious for a live album - even for them. I hope they release a more normal live album one day that more accurately reflects what their live performances are like - this seems to a weird mix of many shows with over-dubbed stuff. Particularly the final 20 minute long random noise generator in Part 4 of Cicatriz - I'm not quite sure what Omar is trying to show by this.

All said and done, I do think there are some really great parts to it - particulalry the highly skilled guitar playing in much of Take the Veil and Cicatriz - I really like that, and it's so raw and energetic

Also - the keyboards seem to shine out a lot more than in the studio stuff (they seem louder and very proggy). I really like that aspect too.

It is good - don't get me wrong, it's just that it really isn't a good place to start with TMV - this is for the fans -only they will understand...

Report this review (#173889)
Posted Saturday, June 14, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars This one gets a lot of heat around here. It's quite clear why. Scab Dates is an egregious attempt at recreating a Mars Volta live experience on CD. I had a bad feeling about this one, truthfully, but I am a loyal, confident fan, so I bought it on release date as usual...

The album is comprised of only 3 actual songs: "Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt," "Concertina," and "Cicatriz," and each song has its own improvised intro which is given its own track and title. The disc still passes 70 minutes, as the band jams out a lot. As soon as you start the album its apparent that the album has been heavily a studio. The intro of the album, "Abrasions Mount the Timpani," is loaded with studio effects and samples of babies crying before we actually get to the performance. The Mars Volta do open their shows with some music or sounds before they actually play, but it's nothing at all like this. When the music finally kicks in, you'll notice that the recording quality isn't great. This is already looking dismal. When "Take the Veil" gets going, you can tell that the band is pretty tight and all, but Cedric's voice can be, well, not great. Pulling off some of his stuff live is difficult, but he's getting better every year. This recording, besides not doing his voice justice, obviously lacks the visual element. Anyone who has seen the band live knows that Cedric is a mad man on stage. Therefore, we can give some grace for messy vocals, but here we have no idea what's going on. He's not always off, but he's not ever what we'd expect of him. The band plays well, and gets into great jams (again, they are getting better every year), but some of it can get a little boring to sit and listen to or the post-recording studio splicing (specifically in the 40-minute rendition of Cicatriz) ruins the feel of the music. The jams can be phenominal, but the poor recording and studio botching can simply ruin the vibe.

For a fan, this is worth listening to. I listen to it maybe once or twice a year, but when I do listen I am able to get into the jams. It's got some seriously great moments, but generally it's not worth your time when you could listen to a studio album. For those interested in hearing how the band sounds live, avoid this album! Go see them! The Mars Volta put on an inexplicable show and what an experience it is! If you can't for some reason (there is no reason), just wait until another release is available; it's inevitable that they'll put out a DVD. For non-fans, this will not convert you. Why aren't you a fan anyway? For those who are hostile against the group, this will probably just give you more material to bash, and for once we Volta fans will actually have to concede to your arguments, because you actually have a foundation for this one.

Never miss an opportunity to see them live, and never take Scab Dates as a substitute!

Report this review (#173994)
Posted Sunday, June 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars This is honestly a huge disappointment. I could ramble on about this, but the reviews that precede me can explain that. All I can say is these three things.

1. Do not buy this unless you need to complete your TMV collection (or want to). It really isn't worth buying to check out. The quality is just really sub par and its horrendously overpriced.

2. If you're expecting The Mars Volta concert in a box, don't. Because the energy is not there. You really just HAVE to be there.

3. IT'S SO POINTLESSLY LONG. I'm glad I never went to the tour from De-Loused because THEY DIDN'T HAVE ANY DAMN SONGS TO PLAY. It's mostly filler, with frequent annoying jamming and pointlessly extend sections of songs. There was a certain point where I thought they were going to repeat the song twice.

If you have an extra 30$ lying around, don't buy this. Go buy Precambrian by The Ocean because this is not what you think it is. I'm giving two stars because of TMV's creative spirit. I really think if this had been recorded better, it would be much more interesting to listen to.

Report this review (#195964)
Posted Monday, December 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
1 stars The Mars Volta - SCABDATES

By progkidjoel

The Mars Volta are said to be one of the best acts of modern prog by many - for what its worth, they've even got an album in the ProgArchives top 100. This is definitely not the reason why, and is one of the worst live performances/recordings I've ever been tortured by. I would do a track by track analysis of this album as I usually write, but I don't feel this pitiful attempt deserves my time or effort.

To begin with, there is zero musicianship displayed on this album - Nothing special, original, clever, and for the majority, nothing even listenable. The tracks are all incredibly bleak and uninteresting, and are recorded and played at an incredibly low standard. To be honest, I wouldn't even reccomend this disc to completionists of The Mars Volta (Yes, it really is that bad.) A terrible introduction to The Mars Volta, this disc recieves my lowest rating thus far, and for good reason - Its just that bad.

I really can't reccomend this disc to anyone - Its just terrible. Invest the money in a quality album from another band, put it towards a car, buy a new shirt, whatever, just avoid this disc at all costs!

1 out of 5. (Deserves nothing more)


Report this review (#221877)
Posted Friday, June 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Hmmm..., pity news. I think that Mars Volta is for a moment one of the best heavy prog band in the world. Their "Frances The Mute" is absolutely masterpiece. But what do we have there, in their first official live album?

First of all, the sound quality could be much more better. Then, music and voice isn't the same you are expecting from studio album. If the music is just different - more heavy metal, more rhythm and drive, less different acoustic pieces and stylistical changes, the voice is just not as good as recorded in studio!

Because of muddy production, you can't hear all guitar nuances and sound texture. Everything is just mixed in one sound wave. Heavy prog became post-punk/metal/grunge noise.

Of course, point of view depends on listener. For heavy Mars Volta fans album isn't bad and just shows another band's face. But for regular listener it's could be quite boring and noisy work without any attractions in it.

Whenever I can't be very neutral ( as a fan of Mars Volta), I think that three is a good mark there.

Report this review (#240998)
Posted Wednesday, September 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
2 stars I don't know who was doing the recording, but almost everything on Scab Dates sounds terribly murky, as Omar Rodriguez-Lopez's playing is incredibly sloppy throughout the show. And quite frankly, Cedric Bixler-Zavala sounds absolutely trashed- I shudder to speculate what substances were flowing through his veins that night as he wailed off key and muddied the lyrics. At times, the improvisational jams that make some of the familiar songs completely unrecognizable are interesting or even good, but most of the time, they consist of unbearable nonsense played at excruciating volumes. Most of the material is taken from the Tremulent EP and De-Loused in the Comatorium (at least in name only, since the music is vastly different). The entire first track consists of nothing more than horrific noises. "Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt" begins decently enough (relatively speaking), but gets mangled along the way. "Caviglia" seems like a waste of three minutes, with its harrowingly empty sound, but I tend to enjoy their recitation of "Concertina" that follows. "Haruspex" is a jumbled mess of noise with a few pleasing moments (like Isaiah Ikey Owens's brief organ work). One exciting aspect of this album are the sudden transitions from one song to the next. "Circatriz ESP" is extended to a massive finale, which is unquestionably the highlight of the disc and its real saving grace (well, the first half of it, at any rate). Owens and Rodriguez-Lopez trade some impressive solos over Juan Alderete's excellent bass work, and Jon Theodore's drumming is top notch with Marcel Rodriguez lending a hand to fill out the sound. Much of the final piece consists of Rodriguez-Lopez fooling around with his guitar and echo box over a repetitive riff, which is fun for a while, but gets irritating after so long. The twenty-minute final track is completely worthless, with what seems to be the continuation of the concert in the background and a lot of studio experimentation going on over it, including various noises and what sounds to be radio stations. One must ask, what the hell is the point of this? Could not the band have included a few more cuts from their highly acclaimed debut album to make this live album worth acquiring?
Report this review (#255609)
Posted Friday, December 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
1 stars The idea of letting a band as wildly creative as The Mars Volta go completely all out in a live setting sounds frankly incredible on paper, seeing what sorts of surreal jamming can be done to build upon some of their pre-existing material. Unfortunately, what ends up happening on Scabdates is the band completely losing themselves in the process with these long stretches of meandering nonsense that seems to have a total lack of grounding. This is just an all around awful live album for the most part, not just in terms of the compositions themselves being all over the place, but even in terms of the performances themselves. Nobody here seems to be anywhere near in top form, with the instrumentation feeling very messy and Cedric's vocals making him sound like he's half asleep and just going through the motions. The songs themselves rarely benefit from their extended runtimes either, with the additions feeling extremely redundant for the vast majority of the time and not even really lining up with anything else they try to achieve, feeling entirely disconnected from the core that's being built off. Not entirely worthless since you've got parts 2 and 3 of Cicatriz which do in fact work really well, extending things in a more natural way and even including a bit of David Bowie's Ashes to Ashes, which was a very charming moment, but then it ends up devolving into 20 minutes of weird effects and field recordings and goes back to the negatives. I guess this just shows what happens when a band just gets a bit lost in their own madness and self-indulgence, because this ends up having next to none of the appeal that the band typically would have.

Best tracks: Concertina, Cicatriz part 2 and 3

Weakest tracks: Abrasions Mount the Timpani, Caviglia, Cicatriz part 4

Report this review (#2595624)
Posted Monday, September 20, 2021 | Review Permalink

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