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The Mars Volta - Amputechture CD (album) cover


The Mars Volta


Heavy Prog

3.89 | 645 ratings

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2 stars The Mars Volta - Amputechture

With this album, the Mars Volta developed from the awesomeness of the sonic and impenetrable Frances the Mute, into a much more "progressive" (if we're talking in relation to 70s prog at least), and jazzier band. This can be good and bad, depending on how you look at it. I personally do not prefer it, not because of the stylistic differences per se, but because the album is riddled with too many vocal effects, silly guitar tones and derivative solos, as well as unbalanced songs that are spliced up in order to fit the "concept" (which doesn't exist). I know it may sound like I hate this album, and I certainly do not, but compared to De-loused, Frances, and even Bedlam (which I am not the biggest fan of either) it falls short. It littered with more problems than pluses, at least in my opinion.

There are, in short, two great tracks on the album (still hindered by some shortcomings), two decent tracks, and then four "meh" tracks that just seem to get in the way of the other, more decent material. In short, this should of been an EP, but I don't think this band believes in album's under 70 minutes in length. But I'll get to it:

Now the music:

Well. There's "Vicarious Atonement", which really isn't half-bad at all. I enjoy the vocals on this track greatly, and while the guitar noodling is slightly annoying, the track as a whole has more good moments than bad ones, and also is pretty psychedelic at times, which is nice. Then there's "Tetragrammaton", which is, in my opinion, the best track on the album (tied with "Day of the Baphomets"). It opens up with some grizzly organized chaos, lets off to beauty, and climbs its way up several mountains before falling down--in a good way. This is the "jazzy", obnoxious TMV taken to the extreme, but done very well. This track feels organized, and layered, as opposed to many others which seem convoluted or overly repetitive.

Then there's a whole wall of mediocrity in "Vermicide", the worst Volta song to date, "Meccamputechture", which begins with a silly rap and then goes on for what feels like hours before finally puttering off. Still it's got some okay moments within--mostly involving saxophone. Then we get to "Asilos Magdalena" which is interesting for a short while, as the song proper is all acoustic with some nice Spanish vocals and guitar-work. It's decent, and would work well if it were put to better use--say, on a better album.

"Viscera Eyes" is a decent track for the most part, although the beginning section goes on for a bit too long and the solos are, once again, a bit static (almost every solo Omar shreds on this album feels like a regurgitation of the "Tetragrammaton" intro/outro riff played either faster or slower.). Still, it begins the album moving out of its mediocre middle hump. Then there's "Day of the Baphomets", which is worth the album alone. Seriously, had this been an EP (or LP) with the 4 good tracks (it still would've reached something like 45 minutes), it'd be great. "Baphomets" shines and is one of the greatest Volta songs yet in their catalogue.

The final track, "El Ciervo Vulnerado" is both good and bad, oddly. Sometimes I enjoy it (usually when listening singularly), other times I'm not such a fan (like when I've listened to the entire album only to arrive at this anti-climatic bummer). It's neat and original, though rather monotonous at times, and obviously unnecessary (as "Baphomets" would have been a great closer). Still, it's "eh".

So, as far as The Mars Volta's albums go: 1. Frances the Mute 2. De-loused 3. Bedlam (just slightly though) 4. Amputechture

It'll score something like a 5-6 for me, earning it what should be 3 stars on this site; however, judging by the descriptions offered, I think this album better fits the 2 star category: Collectors/Fans only. This one's not necessary for the casual or starting TMV fan, and is their most mediocre album to date.

Figglesnout | 2/5 |


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