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THE BEDLAM IN GOLIATH

The Mars Volta

Heavy Prog


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The Mars Volta The Bedlam In Goliath album cover
3.47 | 425 ratings | 86 reviews | 25% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential


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Studio Album, released in 2008

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Aberinkula (5:47)
2. Metatron (8:13)
3. Ilyena (5:38)
4. Wax Simulacra (2:41)
5. Goliath (7:17)
6. Tourniquet Man (2:41)
7. Cavalettas (9:35)
8. Agadez (6:45)
9. Askepios (6:33)
10. Ouroboros (6:38)
11. Soothsayer (9:10)
12. Conjugal Burns (6:36)

Total Time: (77:03)

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Omar A Rodriguez-Lopez / guitars, synthesizers
- Cedric Bixler Zavala / vocals
- Thomas Pridgen / drums
- Juan Alderte / bass
- Isaiah Ikey Owens / keyboards
- Marcel Rodriguez-Lopez / percussion, synthesizers
- Pablo Hinojos-Gonzalez / sound manipulation

Releases information

Bonus track:
Cnady and a Currant Bun - by Syd Barrett.
NZ edition?

Bonus tracks only available if bought at Best Buy:
- Birthday - by The Sugarcubes
- Pulled to bits - Siouxsie and the Banshees
Bonus tracks from itunes:
Things Behind the Sun- N.Drake
Bonus DVD:
- Cygnus...Vismund Cygnus Live

Thanks to hybreda for the addition
and to tafka2112 for the last updates
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THE MARS VOLTA The Bedlam In Goliath ratings distribution


3.47
(425 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(25%)
25%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(38%)
38%
Good, but non-essential (21%)
21%
Collectors/fans only (11%)
11%
Poor. Only for completionists (6%)
6%

THE MARS VOLTA The Bedlam In Goliath reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by 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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Posted Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Review by 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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Posted Thursday, January 31, 2008

Review by 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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Posted Thursday, January 31, 2008

Review by 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) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Review by 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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Posted Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Review by 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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Posted Saturday, February 16, 2008

Review by 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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Posted Monday, February 18, 2008

Review by 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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Posted Saturday, February 23, 2008

Review by 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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Posted Monday, March 10, 2008

Review by 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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Posted Thursday, March 20, 2008

Review by 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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Posted Thursday, March 27, 2008

Review by 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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Posted Friday, March 28, 2008

Review by 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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Posted Friday, April 11, 2008

Review by 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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Posted Sunday, May 18, 2008

Review by 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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Posted Friday, July 04, 2008

Review by 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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Posted Saturday, August 09, 2008

Review by 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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Posted Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Review by 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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Posted Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Review by 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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Posted Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Review by 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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Posted Friday, May 22, 2009

Review by 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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Posted Sunday, August 16, 2009

Review by 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) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, September 11, 2009

Review by 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) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, November 06, 2009

Review by 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) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, November 13, 2009

Review by 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) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Review by 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) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, January 07, 2010

Review by 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) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, January 07, 2010

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, July 23, 2010

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Post/Math 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) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, October 29, 2010

Review by 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) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, April 12, 2012

Latest members reviews

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 yo ... (read more)

Report this review (#753028) | Posted by mohaveman | Sunday, May 13, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#567792) | Posted by voliveira | Monday, November 14, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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 t ... (read more)

Report this review (#531813) | Posted by thesameoldfears | Sunday, September 25, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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 fo ... (read more)

Report this review (#460782) | Posted by Erik Nymas | Monday, June 13, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#459130) | Posted by Alitare | Saturday, June 11, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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 musi ... (read more)

Report this review (#457919) | Posted by PorcupineThief | Tuesday, June 07, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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 remin ... (read more)

Report this review (#379677) | Posted by topographicbroadways | Thursday, January 13, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#301961) | Posted by Lozlan | Monday, October 04, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 l ... (read more)

Report this review (#289672) | Posted by arcane-beautiful | Thursday, July 08, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#279885) | Posted by Tarquin Underspoon | Thursday, April 29, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 alm ... (read more)

Report this review (#278835) | Posted by Gentlegiantprog | Wednesday, April 21, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#270436) | Posted by AgentSpork | Monday, March 08, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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, ... (read more)

Report this review (#264715) | Posted by pfptmvandkc | Saturday, February 06, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#259693) | Posted by smuggledmutation | Thursday, January 07, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#242649) | Posted by Starless | Saturday, October 03, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#228850) | Posted by Tristan Campbell | Tuesday, July 28, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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 explos ... (read more)

Report this review (#217347) | Posted by JTP88 | Friday, May 22, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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 a ... (read more)

Report this review (#211661) | Posted by The SaidRemark | Saturday, April 18, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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 a ... (read more)

Report this review (#210141) | Posted by TheKnife | Saturday, April 04, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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 a ... (read more)

Report this review (#205934) | Posted by Hicks_was_right | Tuesday, March 10, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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