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The Mars Volta - Scab Dates CD (album) cover


The Mars Volta


Heavy Prog

2.73 | 113 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars This one gets a lot of heat around here. It's quite clear why. Scab Dates is an egregious attempt at recreating a Mars Volta live experience on CD. I had a bad feeling about this one, truthfully, but I am a loyal, confident fan, so I bought it on release date as usual...

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

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

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

Moatilliatta | 2/5 |


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