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THE MARS VOLTA

Heavy Prog • United States


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The Mars Volta biography
Formed in 2001 after the demise of hard-rock outfit AT THE DRIVE-IN, THE MARS VOLTA was put together by ex-AT THE DRIVE-IN members Cedric Bixler (vocals) and Omar Rodriguez (guitar). Those two then recruited Juan Alderete on bass, Ikey Owens on keyboard, and Jon Theodore on drums, as well as Jeremy Ward, who contributed sound effects. While other ex-AT THE DRIVE-IN members continued on the path of their predecessor with punk/emo band SPARTA, THE MARS VOLTA expanded the sound that they had previously forged, venturing often into extended explosions of free jazz and psychedelic jamming throughout their songs. That said, they still stayed true to their roots as a hard rock band, and while they are listed as art-rock, they could fit under several different genres. Their debut was 2002's "Tremulant" EP, but their reputation was built over their staggering live shows. The group received recognition opening for the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS, as bassist Flea proclaimed them to be the best opener he'd ever had. However, not all was well. Ward died from a drug overdose on May 25th, 2003. The band continued on without him though, and their first full-length album "De-Loused in the Comatorium" was released two months later. This brooding record is a concept album about the band's friend Julio Venegas, who went into a coma and experienced amazing things. However, he then snapped out and couldn't take the return to reality, proceeding to take his own life.

At this point the band has three studio albums out and it's certainly worth checking out. However, if you aren't a fan of louder music, steer clear of them. They may have evolved beyond AT THE DRIVE-IN, but they still show hints of that hardcore/punk style that they had previously mastered, and this may bother some people. The vocals are also a bit over the top, and could easily scare some people off. They make some very good music though, and it should appeal to most prog fans.

- Bryan Adair

The Mars Volta official website

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De-Loused In The ComatoriumDe-Loused In The Comatorium
Universal 2003
Audio CD$4.55
$1.53 (used)
De-Loused in the ComatoriumDe-Loused in the Comatorium
Import
Imports 2014
Vinyl$88.51
$80.00 (used)
AmputechtureAmputechture
Umvd Labels 2006
Audio CD$4.92
$0.01 (used)
Scab Dates: Live AlbumScab Dates: Live Album
Umvd Labels 2005
Audio CD$4.48
$0.09 (used)
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THE MARS VOLTA discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

THE MARS VOLTA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.22 | 1020 ratings
De-Loused In The Comatorium
2003
4.06 | 743 ratings
Frances The Mute
2005
3.86 | 472 ratings
Amputechture
2006
3.47 | 439 ratings
The Bedlam In Goliath
2008
3.65 | 355 ratings
Octahedron
2009
3.68 | 268 ratings
Noctourniquet
2012

THE MARS VOLTA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.35 | 35 ratings
The Mars Volta - Live
2003
2.80 | 91 ratings
Scab Dates
2005

THE MARS VOLTA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

THE MARS VOLTA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

THE MARS VOLTA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.24 | 98 ratings
Tremulant
2002
3.58 | 17 ratings
Televators
2003
2.83 | 16 ratings
Inertiatic ESP
2003
3.79 | 41 ratings
The Widow
2005
3.31 | 22 ratings
L'Via L'Viaquez
2005
3.29 | 26 ratings
A Missing Chromosome
2005
4.26 | 30 ratings
Frances the Mute - Single
2005
3.21 | 10 ratings
Viscera Eyes
2006
2.68 | 16 ratings
Wax Simulacra
2007
2.83 | 14 ratings
Candy And A Currant Bun
2008
3.18 | 21 ratings
Cotopaxi
2009
3.43 | 28 ratings
The Malkin Jewel
2012

THE MARS VOLTA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Frances The Mute by MARS VOLTA, THE album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.06 | 743 ratings

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Frances The Mute
The Mars Volta Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Those who want to enter into the unknown realms of The Mars Volta's music should either start with this album or with "De-loused in the Comatorium", mostly for safety reasons. If you start with "Amputecture" or "The Bedlam in Goliath", you will be entering the realm of what may seem like chaos and insanity, because both of those albums are some of the most challenging and dense albums I've ever heard. Many listeners actually found this album, "Francis the Mute" very challenging at first, but, believe me, this one is so much more structured than the previous two I just mentioned. The music here fits more of a structured and traditional form of writing, even though there isn't anything very traditional about this album. There are recognizable melodies on this album that are evident on the first listen, and this album probably better represents The Mars Volta than "Deloused..." does, but it is also an excellent album as is this one.

In "FtM", there is a lot more contrast in sound, the music is less dense, there is a lot more experimentation going on, and the music is better on the first listen. This is outstanding song writing and composition all the way through. The process was quite different here then it would be on "Amputecture" and "BiG". On the development of the music on this album, Cedric would write the songs basic structure including the lyrics. Then he would meet one-on-one with the individual band members who would take the basic sound and add their parts to it, taking it slowly at first, and then bringing it up to tempo. Each layer would be added until it became the sound that we have on the album. In later albums, the process was to create music more unstructured and on the fly, all together and at the moment, hence the feeling of chaos that prevails on those albums. This is why it is wise to start out with this album if you are considering exploring the music of TMV.

You get a lot of variety on this album, even within each separate track. "Cygnus..." will give you a good idea of the types of sounds you will hear throughout the album, great structure, complex meters and song structure, amazing instrumentation and even sections hinting on experimentation, especially at the end of the track. "The Widow" is the radio friendly track. It is the most accessible, as would be expected, with a pretty standard 6/8 rhythm and the surprising addition of brass. On the radio edit, the song is just over 3 minutes, but on the album version it is close to 6 minutes. Those extra minutes consists of some really cool experimentation (not really ambient as other reviewers have said, just experimental).

"L'Via l'Viaquez" is another great track that has some great guitar solos and Spanish sounding breakdowns resembling a samba rhythm. This is some great genre mixing sound that you don't get enough of in later albums that break up the wall of sound and denseness that is sometimes present here. Very excellent and creative. "Miranda..." is another great track that continues with the same style of excellent sound and music with all the same complexity. This one has a lighter feel to it at times, though it is still quite complex.

Following this is the 30 minute, multi movement epic masterpiece called "Cassandra Gemini". Again, this one has a lot of structure especially compared to later albums. However, this is probably closer to the chaos that would come, but is still an amazing piece of work. I'm not about to take it apart piece by piece, just expect a lot great guitar work, some dissonance and breakdowns with mood shifts and swings throughout.

The mixes of the later albums would also be more dense to reflect the music. This album is mixed to allow the individual parts to stand out a lot better. Even though I have grown to enjoy the later Mars Volta albums, to me they just don't arrive at the masterpiece status like this album does. It has complexity, experimentation, great musicianship and song craft, better balance and structure yet never commercial (except for the short radio track), great orchestration. This is definitely one of the best prog albums from the 2000's and should be considered essential. This is also an incredible band's best album. A must have for prog lovers.

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 Frances The Mute by MARS VOLTA, THE album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.06 | 743 ratings

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Frances The Mute
The Mars Volta Heavy Prog

Review by Gallifrey

4 stars 10 Years On: The Mars Volta's Frances the Mute

I think I have a rather big slice of humble pie to dig into.

There have been some rather negative opinions pointed towards Frances the Mute that have been flung around the internet over the last year or so, many of them coming from my mouth (or fingers, I guess). If this album came up in discussion, I'd immediately jump onto my well- developed 'Deloused, cut in half, and filled to the brim with absolute nonsense' argument, which utterly tore apart those people who enjoyed this album with logic and reason (I hope). And to be honest, I still subscribe to that view a bit, just not so much. To me, this album was the manifestation of Volta going too far, of them losing sight of restraint and subtlety and in the process losing all of their marbles and all of their ability to write a coherent album. 'About twenty minutes of it is really solid, fantastic Mars Volta material', I would often say, pointing at the major song sections of 'Cygnus' and 'The Widow', but when a 30 minute epic has about 12 minutes of real song time, you know you've got problems.

I was so content with this opinion that I didn't even feel like I needed to re-listen to Frances the Mute that much before I gave it a good old 10th anniversary scolding, but I did anyway.

Crud.

I like it.

How embarrassing.

Frances the Mute is a stupid record. In fact, it's borderline moronic, but once you realise that, and accept it, you can truly start to see the fun in its stupidity. And I'm not talking about this being a tongue-in-cheek lelsoquirky album filled with 12 year old humour, attempting to be 'satirical', I'm talking about the way Volta make prog fun without making it cheesy or needlessly self-indulgent (mostly). At times we're laughing with the music, at times we're laughing at the music, and at times they drop that whole charade and put out quite beautiful passages of music, reminding us so eloquently that they aren't a bunch of bumbling retards being laughable on purpose.

I always liked 'Cygnus' Vismund Cygnus', at least a bit. The song has such an loveable charm in the way it goes about its 13 minute duration. Sure, the instrumental parts are a bit too wanky for what they're trying to achieve, and there's that entire section at the end that quite frankly doesn't need to be there, but it's got some hella fun parts. I think this song works so well because of the consistently catchy vocals from Cedric, that manage to be very poppy and therefore very fun, but without running into cringe-inducing over-saturated pop cheese. The main body of the song is so damn catchy that you basically forget how crazy the instruments behind the vocals are. And to be honest, for much of this song they're crazy in a good way as opposed to a bad one. The drumming is as good as drumming will ever get, and the guitars all sort of gel together to form a manic backdrop that actually works for once. And then there's that breakdown after the second chorus. Man, if that isn't a joke segment I don't know what is.

Past me used to say this song was utterly pointless after four minutes. And he's partially right - that two-minute solo at about 5 minutes in is frankly embarrassing, although the idea to break into a moody solo after the mental first few minutes is a good one, and the music behind the solo is pretty nice. The second half of the song does warrant some great moments, mostly courtesy of Cedric, with the entire vocal section of the bridge being one of my favourite parts of the album. Omar does get a bit of messy wanking going before the (admittedly glorious) drop into the chorus, but it's made fantastic by some glorious snare work from Jon Theodore. But I will give past me this - this song is utterly pointless after about 10. Oh yeah sure a nice ambient break with some ~spooky~ field recordings. Genius. Aside from the fact that it leads brilliantly into 'The Widow' it is totally pointless and at least two minutes longer than it needs to be. Still, four minutes of filler in a thirteen minute song isn't that bad? Right?

I always hated 'L'Via L'Viaquez', for various reasons. Never been a fan of latin music, I think it's corny as hell. Never been a fan of prog bands pulling from latin music, it makes the corniness worse. The messy solos here are still too much, and again, this could easily be a lot shorter. Overall, it's still probably the weakest track here, but time has taught me to enjoy it, at least a little bit. The 'ohohoh yeaaahhhhhhh' part before it drops into the weird chorus is absolutely glorious, and counters pretty much every bad part on this song, seeing Cedric hit stadium-rock levels of over-the-top theatricism, complimented perfectly by Theodore's manic snare hitting. The chorus itself is' odd, to put it lightly. It's ceritanly a bit surreal, dropping straight out from latin rock fusion into a piano-led section in a completely different tempo and mood. And then it flies back into the main section with a nice big old wankfest from Omar. The good and bad on this track balance out pretty well, although as it progresses, the bad gets dragged on far more than the good. I mean what on earth was the point in that final chorus section going on for five minutes?

'Miranda That Ghost Just Ain't Holy Anymore', above all of its flaws, is probably the Mars Volta's best track. The band said the entire thing is meant as a homage to western films, particularly the work of Ennio Morricone, and it does come through a bit in the instrumental. After a minute of (garbage) ambience, we get some really nice ambience coming in, setting a scene so unlike any other Mars Volta song - serene, vast, and subtly ominous. The song portion of this track, ie when Cedric is singing, is fantastic. Truly fantastic. The horns are glorious and upfront, the organ and ambience in the background wandering, and Cedric singing with some true soul that many of his ilk go without. The only thing that stops this being flawless is the utterly anticlimactic finish. I love the big reprise of the chorus, but surely Volta could have exploded it a bit more. Eight minutes of build for a 30 second release and four minutes of nonsense ambience.

And I guess I can't review this album properly without mentioning the centrepiece, a 32 minute song arbitrarily split into 8 segments, entitled 'Cassandra Geminni'. And while the wikipedia page does use the word 'arbitrarily' to describe the track splits, I must say they're oh so useful for separating the wheat from the chaff in terms of this song's duration. Because as you can imagine, this is The Mars Volta with a 32 minute song. Less than half of that will be actual song, the rest will be nonsense.

For part of the song at least, it feels like they've tried to structure it pretty well. It would certainly be a great 16-20 minute epic at least, because of the fantastic way they use recurring themes and mood-setting elements. After a ripping intro, we get Cedric with some strange effects introducing the story. Of course, 'the story' is likely meaningless gibberish, but the way it jumps between spoken word sections and sung hooks is reminiscent of the very best classic prog epics, and it's clear they've done their homework on it. The chorus, which shows up in the first track, and later on in the seventh (26 minutes later) is brilliant. A really awesome, memorable, simple hook, that can easily be transitioned back into without much effort, and is simple enough to do some basic referencing from.

The feeling of restraint stays pretty well throughout tracks two and three, with these pretty much feeling like bridges to the first track, with the only real complaint being that track two does drag on a bit long and lose a bit of momentum leading into three. Fantastic horns in track three as well, really excellent stuff. But then truly it starts to lose it a bit. Track four is the longest single part of the epic and is honestly where they lose any restraint. A softer, more subdued section is always needed in the middle of an epic, but eight minutes? That's practically an epic in itself, and listening to Cedric whispering over noodling jazz nonsense isn't exactly enjoyable. The fifth and sixth tracks sadly continue this trend, but while four and five may be wanky messes of bad solos, I actually quite enjoy the free jazz saxiness of number six. If this was the only solo on the song I would be pretty happy with it to be honest, but we know that can't be true. It also gets bonus points for an utterly brilliant transition into the chorus, which after 26 minutes feels like the absolute ultimate release.

And I guess while I'm at talking this album through track-by-track, I'll give a paragraph to 'The Widow'. I also think it is a testament to this album that each track can be discussed so thoroughly, because each is so unique, and 'The Widow' is the token pop song of the record. Similar to 'Televators' from the debut album, this is probably my favourite song here behind the main part of "Miranda". A brilliant contrast to the opening track, this is an emotional ballad about' something, and Cedric's vocal performance is truly one of his best. Honestly, the only thing I dislike about this track is the fact that the verses are too short. The hook of the song is so utterly fantastic, and it regularly feels as if it comes too soon. I mean, this song is basically three minutes long. A three-minute Volta song, and it's one of their best. Come on, they could have pulled that out a bit longer. Also, bonus mention to the utterly garbage last minute of trashy ambience in this song. Somehow it managed to top the closing minutes of 'Cygnus' for pointlessness and break of album flow.

This album is a laugh. Sure, sometimes it pushes beyond that and goes into material that is just stupid as opposed to being funny, but really I was trying to take it far too seriously, and The Mars Volta, at least in this incarnation, are not a serious band. But the best part for me is that they aren't purposely trying to be crazy or wacky or funny, it just flows naturally with their songwriting style. Too many times have I cringed endlessly at bands who think being as manic as possible is how you make technical music, and many of them were undeniably inspired by this record. Those albums feel like little kids laughing hysterically at people on youtube being random, whereas this is a touch more sincere and its comedy is a bit less childish. It still has problems, but the problems are part of its charm. There is definitely still a bit of filler and a few of the solos border too close on meaningless wankery, but I do quite enjoy this album now. And I'm glad for it.

7.8

Originally written for my Facebook page/blog: www.facebook.com/neoprogisbestprog

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 De-Loused In The Comatorium by MARS VOLTA, THE album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.22 | 1020 ratings

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De-Loused In The Comatorium
The Mars Volta Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars This is probably the best place to enter the realm of The Mars Volta. Yes, it's frantic crazy music, but this album is probably the most accessible to the crazy walls of sound that would come later in the albums "Armputecture" and "Bedlam in Goliath". In The Mars Volta music, there is always so much going on and for some people, it just gets so overwhelming. The music takes some time to get used to because there is so much to hear. Some critics said that this album was "a sprawling mess", and if they were saying that about this album, they probably had no hope of ever getting their minds around the other two I mentioned.

This album is a masterpiece and the sound is nailed on it. I don't know how in the world it got so popular because it goes against everything that people were listening to at the time, but I'm so glad that finally a band got the credit and audience that it was deserving of, and the real fans have stuck with them. If only we could get the other great prog bands that are currently out there into public awareness the way TMV did.

But TMV's sound is dense in this album, but not as dense as it would become. This album has all the genius of the later albums, but it is so much easier to digest then what would come later, especially on the first listen. It is full of sound, but the sound is much more organized than it would be later, so if this album doesn't quite penetrate and you don't love this album after three or four listens, then you had probably stop your TMV research at this album. Because it only gets denser.

This is rock orchestration, classical music in rock form. This is the kind of rock that I believe the classical composers could appreciate. This is not easy music, it is well composed and performed flawlessly. It is very manic, but at least the mania is orderly on this album. Buried in the sound is a lot of ethnic-inspired music and layers of beauty. There is a lot of dissonance especially in the guitar and there is a lot of King Crimson (Fripp) influence throughout. This is especially apparent in "Cicatriz ESP" which is the longest track on the album. I love the way they expand on that sound. Vocals and instrumentals are frantic most of the way through the album. But, in future albums, it does tend to get tiring by the time you get to the end of the album, that is not the case with this album because this album is more concerned with dynamics and they are a lot more obvious, which textures the music here a lot better, making it easier to listen to.

I highly recommend this album for any prog lover who wants to explore new prog. This music would go on to further inspire other bands, so it is very influential and in my opinion, essential for your progressive rock collection. It is mostly beyond description and must be experienced, but all prog lovers should at least give it several listens and consider it an important album for all progressive music. Very influential and essential.....5 strong stars. One of the best new progressive albums and bands in existence. It's amazing how they have become such a popular band and I'm so happy that they are....it just proves that people are craving challenging and amazing music.

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 Noctourniquet by MARS VOLTA, THE album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.68 | 268 ratings

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Noctourniquet
The Mars Volta Heavy Prog

Review by Billy Pilgrim

5 stars What an excellent offering from The Mars Volta. While their work was arguably getting repetitious and dull in Bedlam, they changed their style quite drastically and released a more acoustic, quite and accessible release with Octahedron, that album suffered from having some filler, and some unfinished ideas, it felt uneven and unmotivated at times, but Noctourniquet perfects the ideas in Octahedron, and expands on them. This time on top of the acoustic less heavy style, the music has evolved, and it has an industrial feel to it, akin to NIN, so different from anything they've released but still totally Volta. Hardly any filler, beautiful melodies, great release, highly recommended.

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 Octahedron by MARS VOLTA, THE album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.65 | 355 ratings

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Octahedron
The Mars Volta Heavy Prog

Review by bloodnarfer

4 stars More melody, less dense, less cocaine.

Octahedron is a unique release. This is a reletively sparse, mellow, and mature TMV and their most impressive album since De-Loused. Gone is the "Everything in the kitchen sink" approach of previous releases, and what we have is something akin to Televators and it is a great step. Octahedron is much more vocal focused than before, but that's fine because Cedric is in good form. The playing is just as great as we would expect from TMV, only more focused.

From the opening track Since We've Been Wrong, I knew greatness was coming. How can a fevered high-energy band such as TMV begin a song with a 1 1/2 minute long note? A gorgeous and careful guitar picks across each vocal phrase as the song begins. Have you ever heard Cedric sound so delicate and longing as when he says "Since you've been wrong"? The song swells and calms with keys dabbling between verses. And the payoff begins as soon as the drums pound into existance. Solid start to the album.

The stand out tracks for me here are Halo of Nembutals and With Twilight as My Guide for reasons TMV usually does not impress with. Halo has a great rhythmic and ambient intro as Cedric sings a few sparsely accompanied phrases. He sounds great even without the music behind him. It is an obvious tension as you wait for the sound to slam in. The vocals and drums seem to be the lead players as they carry this song from beginning to end. Guitars and keys provide chords and twisted tones in the background. This song is vocal focused which is unusal for TMV and superb.

Next we have With Twilight as My Guide which is an 8 minute song with no drums . And its wonderful and evocative. Cedric contributes his most beautiful vocals to date. (Who knew this guy could sing beautifully?) Its is sad and soft and interesting all at the same time. Omars strums lightly under the vocals as synths provide background chords and oscillations. They did a fantastic work of engineering this song, particulary in the vocal choruses where they hit that "sweet spot".

Luciforms begins with a 1 1/2 tensioned organ-like intro as the bass comes in to bounce between octaves. Enjoyable guitar work by Omar throughout. The songs manages to catch some of the franticness of past releases while still maintaining the "sparse" feel of this album. Its a dark song and a lot of fun.

What we have is a return to grace for The Mars Volta. They have matured and grown on this album. A different, fresh, and inciteful work and their best since De-Loused. An excellent addition to any prog rock music collection, 4/5 stars.

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 De-Loused In The Comatorium by MARS VOLTA, THE album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.22 | 1020 ratings

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De-Loused In The Comatorium
The Mars Volta Heavy Prog

Review by siegese7en

5 stars Its because this is?? 5/5

If you're looking for unique and a top class prog rock album, De-Loused in Comatorium comes in the forefront of that list. It is the best work The Mars Volta have ever put out. The genius mind of Omar Rodrigues Lopez is in full flow here. He must be one of the best prog rock guitarists of 2000s. To combine acidic, retro, complex, melodic music at the same time must require some unique talent which TMV have plenty in tandem. Everything from guitar bass, drums and the synthesizers are so uniquely blended together that most bands do not even come close to what TMV are able to put across in a single song let alone the whole album. How are they able to make such a cohesive music out of all the combinations that I mentioned above is a question that always amuses me. The music is hypnotic at times.

The album starts with a really tense and sharp intro 'Son et Lumiere' and continues to 'Iniertiatic ESP' and like the name suggests the song gets stronger as it progresses. Starting with a very intense melody, the song builds into something really great during its middle parts. If only you listen to the riffs that Omar plays in the song along with excellent drumming, the uniqueness of this album must be crystal clear to your ears. 'Roulette Dares (The Haunt of)' follows which is one of the best TMV songs ever. From starting riff it feels like a real classic. The verses and chorus are at their melodic best and the chorus part where Cedric Bixler-Zaval yells "Exoskeleton junction at the railroad delayed" remains in your head forever once you hear the song. The instrumental part after the chorus with intense drumming of different kind and a long guitar solo is even better and the song flows in the same vein throughout with a superb ending. This is a song which represents Mars Volta on top of their game. An interlude follows in the name of 'Tira Me a las Aranas'. Then another magnificent song follows in 'Drunkship of Lanterns' which starts with a percussion domination. Their Mexican origin in brilliant incorporated in this song with Mexican style percussion and guitar. The song is also brilliant because of the unique atmosphere it leaves on the listener. In the next song 'Eriatarka' they showcase their way of starting with a very slow melody and building it into an intense hard rock part to slow parts back and forth again and again. The tempo and time signature changes in this song are something really to behold and for me this song is one of the best example of use of synthesizer in TMV's music. The next song 'Cicatriz'is again a descent song that almost starts off with almost hip-hop style beat but soon leaves TMV stamp on it with constant tempo changes, awesome background guitar lead and awesome drumming. The middle section of the song is full show-off of their synthesizer skill but it was one moment in the album where I was put off. The song makes up for that in later section with a melodic over the top solo and an awesome ending. Another great song follws in 'This Apparatus Must be Unearthed' which again consists of all the goods that TMV can deliver. The one song that surprised me the most 'Televators' then comes next which is a full ballad. This song again showcases the musicianship and songwriting skills that are on show with the use of banjo as percussion and is a slap on the face of those who complain TMV being less melodic, more annoying and all that. The final song 'Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt' is a fitting end to the album which again is more than a descent song.

So this is a pure gem of modern progressive rock music and if you are also a fan of unique prog rock albums like me, this is a must have with The Mars Volta at their freaking best.

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 Frances The Mute by MARS VOLTA, THE album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.06 | 743 ratings

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Frances The Mute
The Mars Volta Heavy Prog

Review by Knapitatet

5 stars The Mars Volta was probably the most important new Prog Band of the 00's. Finally there was a band that could write songs that stretched out for 15 minutes, play in odd time signatures, create some of the most esoteric lyrics you are likely to hear in modern rock and still recieve some mainstream attention. Most importantly they were resonsible for showing kids like me that there was more going on in Rock N Roll in those days than either Jack White or Two-Bit Metal band no. 511! "Frances The Mute" is for my money, The Mars Voltas magnum opus. On this album they succeded with creating what they failed to do on "Deloused In The Comatorium" (also an amazing album) and that is proper dynamics. Roughly speaking, the album can be said to follow a pattern: Two peices of fiery Heavy Metal and two beautiful soft songs, all connected with ambient passages that finally leads up to the 32 minute nuclear war of an album finisher: Cassandra Gemini, wich combines the moods of the rest of the album brilliantly. The ambient sections that i mentioned has been a controversial topic for many, and one of the reasons why many people choose "Deloused" over this one as The Volta's best album. But i think that they are beautifully directed with the horn section deserving special praise (in fact the horn playing for all of this album is superb.) I appreciate the more than i do the extended instrumental jams of latter albums. Thats all i am going to say on this topic. A true masterpiece.

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 Noctourniquet by MARS VOLTA, THE album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.68 | 268 ratings

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Noctourniquet
The Mars Volta Heavy Prog

Review by EatThatPhonebook
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 6/10

Decently Enjoyable, But Not The Ending This Band Deserves.

(Quick Review)

Nocturniquet is the Mars Volta's sixth studio LP, as well as their last. Not the strongest ending such a great and innovating band could have accomplished, which makes it even more of a disappointment the fact that the band now seizes to exist. Nevertheless, it was good to see the band going for a more straightforward, song-oriented direction, which as consequence requires more focus on the songwriting. And the band hasn't lost much of their talent, both in the above mentioned department as well as in the musicianship one, because it's obvious these artists are still technical beasts when it comes to deliver solid instrumentation. The group can still pull great songs such as the opener 'The Whip Hand', 'Lapochka', the more soothing 'Empty Vessels Make The Loudest Sound', and overall, a pretty solid, concise, and focused album that, although not thoroughly enjoyable all the way through, is satisfying as a whole.

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 De-Loused In The Comatorium by MARS VOLTA, THE album cover Studio Album, 2003
4.22 | 1020 ratings

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De-Loused In The Comatorium
The Mars Volta Heavy Prog

Review by zeqexes

5 stars 5/5 I recently picked up The Mars Volta's first studio album, De-Loused in the Comatorium, and have not stopped listening to it since. My first TMV album was Frances the Mute, which I also love. De-Loused has had more of an instant effect on me, whereas FtM took me a bit longer to appreciate.

It is instantly obvious after listening that the members of the band are very skilled in their playing. The drums really stand out, and blow me away each time I listen. The song-writing talent is also very strong.

This album contains a little bit of outside influence from other genres such as Latin and electronic (but not nearly as much as what's explored on Frances the Mute). This makes for a unique and captivating experience. After listening to this album, if it's a bit too 'safe' for you, then try FtM.

The lyrics are quite odd abstract (something I was used to after Frances). Inertiatic ESP features lyrics such as: Last night I heard lepers Flinch like birth defects Its musk was fecal in origin As the words dribbled of its chin The lyrics suit the mysterious and foreign sound of the music very well.

The album is remarkably consistent, with not a weak track. However, stand out tracks for me include: Son Et Lumiere, Inertiatic ESP, Roulette Dares and Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt. Televators is another great song, with a strong hook and a quieter feel than the rest of the album. "Take the Veil?" is the most adventurous song on the album, and gives a taste of what's to come on following albums by this band.

My overall view of this album is a fantastic debut by a fantastic band. Anyone who hasn't heard it should check it out immediately.

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 Noctourniquet by MARS VOLTA, THE album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.68 | 268 ratings

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Noctourniquet
The Mars Volta Heavy Prog

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "Noctourniquet" is the 6th full-length studio album by US experimental/progressive rock act The Mars Volta. The album was released through Warner Bros. in March 2012. The album was created under a bit of turmoil, as main composer/guitarist Omar Rodriguez- Lopez and lead vocalist/lyricist Cedric Bixler-Zavala had an argument over the creative process. Most of the instrumental parts for the album were already recorded in 2009, shortly after mixing "Octahedron (2009)" but when Omar Rodriguez-Lopez approached Cedric Bixler-Zavala about recording the vocals for the album, the latter demanded a timeout. He simply didn't feel ready or inspired to work on vocals/lyrics for the album at that point. While it didn't exactly suit Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and his busy restless nature (which is well documented in the way he releases several solo albums a year), Cedric Bixler-Zavala was given room and space to breathe. After a couple of years he returned to the studio to record the vocals for the album.

The music on "Noctourniquet" is as always a experimental rock and a new adventurous chapter in the discography of The Mars Volta. Few bands on today's music scene are as adventurous and boundary bending as The Mars Volta. They always set out to create an album that doesn't sound like the last one, and that's admirable IMO. Sometimes they focus a bit too much on experimentation instead of focusing on some of the otherwise beautiful melodies they also write, but when those two elements go hand in hand these guys produce magic. A track like "Lapochka" stands out as an example of that. Examples of the more "frustrating" tracks to my ears are "The Whip Hand" and "In Absentia".

The musicianship is as usual on a very high level. The band are tight and at times virtuosic. Cedric Bixler-Zavala sings varied and with passion. His high pitched singing style is applied to the music in the right doses.

"Noctourniquet" is a bit of a mixed bag to my ears. Too much of the album drown in "over the top" experimental guitar/keyboard layers, odd rythms and memorability and accessibility suffer from it. There are still some beautifully crafted melodies on the album but too often it sounds like the at times abrasive instrumental parts of the music aren't sensible to the more delicate vocal parts. The Mars Volta have always made busy music and that's of course part of their appeal to fans of experimental rock, but I prefer when they are a bit more restrained. Even those moments aren't completely convincing everytime either though. The parts where they strike the right balance still makes "Noctourniquet" an intriguing and enjoyable album though and I'd say a 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved. It's not their best by a long shot though.

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