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The Mars Volta - Octahedron CD (album) cover


The Mars Volta


Heavy Prog

3.64 | 422 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars A vast improvement on their last effort but still far removed from their earlier more credible works with the movement towards the mainstream as strong as ever.

The Mars Volta are a funny old beast of a band and one never knows quite what to expect from them with each successive record. That is of course with the exception of Cedric Bixler-Zavala's nonsensical lyrics, effeminate shrieking vocal delivery and angsty pop harmonies. The decline of the mars volta funnily enough was directly co-related with the increase in volume of Cedric's vocals in the mix with each succesive record. Here we see them toned down slightly from the ear piercing 'The Bedlam in Goliath' record. However the vocals are still far too loud and they simply do not fit in with the rest of the band. It's quite clear that The Mars Volta are clearly and unashamedly using the pop style of audio production and emphasising Cedrics vocals above all else in order to achieve mainstream popularity.

The music itself on this record is actually pretty good and is more refined and less 'spazzy' than on the last 2 records. The band have stated this is their 'acoustic' record and it's easy to see how this description applies as soon as opener 'Since we've been wrong' (which is admittedly a sub-par pop song in the vein of the widow) kicks in. Definitely not an acoustic album but relatively laid back by these guys' standards with more 'ballady' type tunes. It's also good to see newbie drummer Thomas Pridgen keeping things nice and sane this time around.

The truth about this album is that if it were instrumental or had a different vocalist who song 1 or 2 octaves lower this would be a 4-4.5 star album, the vocals really ruin what could have been a fantastic album. Cedric needs to keep his ego in check and turn the vocals down or effect them so they aren't as piercing. The backing band is pretty fantastic on this release and it's good to see Omar exerting some self-control as well - restraint is definitely a good descriptor in comparing Octahedron to the last 2 albums.

Definitely a step back in the right direction but for such a purportedly 'experimental' band it defies belief how they are so willing to embrace the conventions of pop music to the detriment of their overall sound.

FruMp | 3/5 |


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