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The Mars Volta - Octahedron CD (album) cover


The Mars Volta


Heavy Prog

3.64 | 423 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Acoustic?

When Mars Volta recorded this album shortly after the release of Bedlam In Goliath in August of 2008 they told fans and the press that this was to be their 'acoustic' album. That's a believable statement, but it seems that the boys have no idea what true acoustic is! No complaints, of course, because Mars Volta is best known by fans and critics alike to create wild and bizarre music out of anything electric that they can possibly get their hands on. This album is less acoustic than the band would have you believe, but more 'decaffe', so to speak. The entire album is fairly mellow, and even the more rocking songs (of which there are many) are more midpaced, and certainly more melodic than anything the band has done before. When it all comes down to it, this is the Mars Volta album for people who don't like Mars Volta - fans will have to decide for themselves whether they like the change of pace or not.

Although the album starts out with a slow song to kick everything off (and a minute and a half of silence on top of that before things actually get started) the entire thing has a very nice flow to it. And to the surprise of many, there's no improvised noise segments that so many people find oh so vexing about the band. The album really gets started, however, with the excellent Teflon, a midpaced songs that will easily become known as a classic by the band. It's got a killer beat and fantastic pace along with a memorable chorus (something Volta never ever does) but manages to stray from becoming poppy at any point. Other heavier songs (but never to the frantic chaos of the band's other albums) are also standouts. Halo Of Nembutals is a particularly evil sounding song with it's shouting parts and Cotopaxi remains as the soul song on the album that sounds like it could have come from any of the band's prior efforts. Luciforms is the most typically ''progressive'' song on the album thanks to it's length and speed changes, and makes for a nice end to the album.

It's the newer style songs that really make this album unique in the Volta catalog. With Twilight As My Guide is a slow and emotive song that makes the best of Cedric's vocals and shows range to his voice that was never truly showcased before. The opening track, Since We've Been Wrong is another such song that keeps things slow but active with it's more delicate melodies.

Overall, this has to be the most accessible Mars Volta album to date, and that's a good thing. Instead of simply bashing the audience over the head with music they've created something that's enjoyable to listen to from front to back on many occasions and not just if you're in the mood for some wild and crazy music. Hopefully they see this change of pace as a good one and model future albums after it. As a final note, it's interesting to read reactions to the album by fans so far, as some feel the album betrays them and others think that it's an interesting interlude in their discography. But regardless of what people think it's refreshing to see an artist that is actually challenging their fans to think without just blindly obeying them and giving them ''what they want'', because let's be honest, do fans know what they want? Hell no.

Kudos to Mars Volta on making a stellar effort that is bound to be seen as one of the best this year. This is certainly an excellent addition to any progressive library and worthy of 4.5 stars out of 5. So very close to a masterpiece, and if the next album takes elements of this album and progresses on them they will no doubt have a masterpiece on their hands.

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |


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