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The Mars Volta - Amputechture CD (album) cover


The Mars Volta


Heavy Prog

3.87 | 568 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Unlike the Frances album this one appealed much more to me right from the very first listen and after a second spin I was thinking: Wow, that's it - now they learned from their mistakes done before and finally released a real perfect one without any disturbing lengthy sound experiments. The only hurdle for perfect enjoyment (at least for me) still left is actually the falsetto voice of Cedric Bixler which is some kind of acquired taste though something one can get used to after a couple of spins. On the other hand as much as I'd wish they'd have a different singer I accept the fact as it is and consider it as an inseparable element of their very own characteristic sound. Before I started to listen to that album my expectations at least in terms of my own pleasure (not in terms of the quality of this album) were set to a rather low level. But what should I say - what a nice positive surprise for me when I realized after continued repeats that I actually enjoy to listen to this one. And I should mention as well, that initially after I've discovered this band one or two years before it wasn't that easy for a 45-year old stubborn lad like me to appreciate this young band but finally after three albums it has worked out. In the beginning I was all the time wondering what's so special about them that they're not only hyped by youngsters (supposedly because they're provocative, furious and weird) but also critically acclaimed by more matured people. However after dealing with their music and its content a bit more detailed I had to admit that they're not just another bunch of crazy freaks unsatisfied with everything and shouting out their hatred into this world. Whether one likes or dislikes their music is left to individual preferred taste but it's hard to find any rational reasons for denying that they're very talented and innovative musicians doing something that is definitely original, highly interesting and even breathtaking at times. I think it's time to speak a bit about the actual music on this album here. Well apart from the redundant fillers on "Frances The Mute" their style which could be described as modern jazz-tinged heavy psychedelic rock stayed basically the same. Nevertheless this album is much more coherent than the previous one which was very good as well already, just not enjoyable as a whole for me. I'll describe briefly each individual song including a few worthy notes about the song titles which are anything else than meaningless and very typically for TMV a combination of English/Spanish vocabulary, mythological/religious terms and their own word creations.

Vicarious Atonement:

("In Christian thought, atonement is humanity's reconciliation with God through the sacrifice of Jesus' death. Human sin is thought to damage the relationship between people and God, but Jesus' death enables humanity to "get right" with God.") First song is a very spacey and atmospheric one with nice guitar and synths effects. A really a great opener.


The title is obviously a term taken from the sci-fi movie "Equilibrium" that stands for an institution which suppresses human emotion by all means in order to eliminate violence. This is an extended epic one with 16+ minutes and multiple parts alternating between more up-tempo ones showing excellent guitar riffing, sometimes more atmospheric ones and jazzy, rather weird ones with fiery drumming and the well-known insane vocals of Cedric Bixler. Certainly the most difficult and longest track here and one of the highlights of the album. The only downer might be the sometimes the transitions between the different parts could be a bit smoother.

Vermicide (substance for killing worms) is actually one of my favs here with nice spacey guitar work with just the right dose of effects used. Even Cedric's vocals are sounding here quite enjoyable I've to say.

Meccamputechture (an ingenious and meaningful word creation implying many possible interpretations like i.e. Mecca has been built up from body parts ???): Another long one with 11 minutes, at times rather heavy and weird but as well an outstanding track here with awesome sax and drumming.

Asilos Magdalena (asylums for Mary Magdalene) starts with acoustic guitar combined with psychedelic sound effects. Here Cedric's singing in Spanish language as the title implies already. A very nice and quiet one.

Viscera Eyes (Inner eyes?) has Spanish lyrics as well (at least in the beginning) and is a very up-tempo track with great sax playing once again. Jazz-flavoured alternative rock?

Day of the Baphomets (name for a tin god worshipped by members of the Templar fraternity) is another one with more than 10 min. of runtime, very versatile and quite up-speed. Nice solo on bongos here!

El Ciervo Vulnerado (The wounded deer) is an extremely spacey one with lots of sound effects, sitar and sax.

With their third studio album the band might have come to an admittedly a bit less original and uninventive sound. Nevertheless they gained a lot of maturity and accessibility by omitting too many ambient experiments. Actually there's not one really weak track to be found on here. "Amputechture" is certainly a release by a promising young band worth to be checked out even by "stubborn" old progsters (like me). ***1/2 REALLY!!

hdfisch | 3/5 |


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