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The Mars Volta - Frances the Mute CD (album) cover


The Mars Volta


Heavy Prog

4.07 | 1006 ratings

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5 stars The second Mars Volta album is as near to perfection as anything that has come out of the heavy prog scene over recent years. This is in my opinion the best album for the band after hearing all of their studio releases. It buries anything to come after it and is as good, actually better, than the debut which was an excellent album on its own merits. On Frances the Mute it all fell into place. Everything seems to work on this somehow. the psychedelic polyrhythmic indulgence is dominant throughout, especially the insane percussive time sigs and very loud guitars. Zavala's vocals are a dominant force and unmistakeable on every track. He blasts out in full voice sounding possessed by some unknown preternatural spirit. Many times the lyrics are nonsensical sounding like a mixture of Spanish and some Oriental language. This adds to the high strangeness of the atmospheres, and the puzzle deepens considerably as to what the songs are trying to say.

The band continue to borrow elements from free form manic jazz, to heavy power riffing and trippy psychedelia, every track becomes part of the whole. The conceptual framework is hard to pin down but is open to interpretation. It feels dark and moody, with dangerous explorations into the psyche and perhaps loss of sanity and identity being a key theme. There is a half hour magnum opus at the end that detours into many directions and never really settles on a particular melody for long. The lavishly illustrated booklet gives a few hints away as to what this puzzle is all about, although it matters not. the music speaks for itself as its own entity. The Widow was actually on the charts in a shorter form and is perhaps the only commercial sounding track on the album. The rest merges together seamlessly and at the end of the album you realise you have heard something completely out of the box. the ferociously original approach is a dynamically refreshing sound that can not be denied. A masterpiece of heavy psyche prog that was never bettered by The Mars Volta.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 5/5 |


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