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The Mars Volta - De-Loused in the Comatorium CD (album) cover


The Mars Volta


Heavy Prog

4.20 | 1329 ratings

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4 stars The Mars Volta - De-loused in the Comatorium

I'll keep this one short, since so many other reviews of this album exist. Suffice to say that the debut from these prog rockers really rocks as progressive rock should. There are some very energetic elements throughout the album, probably of which the result is the "progressive punk" label these guys are sometimes given. What is of note to me, more so at times than the music, is the concept behind this album. For a very long time I was fascinated by the concept and the 40-some page storybook that elaborated upon it (and is still used today to influence some of their newer material and lyrics). This album, on the whole, is very solid, but grows a bit stale with age due to its general lack of complexity. Still, it is a very solid debut, and a good representation of a good band successfully playing darker, more modern progressive music.

Now the music:

The album's opening two tracks are certainly a tour de force in my opinion--a very solid way to open a career (although fanatics will argue, and likely successfully, that their Tremulant EP was the real beginning of the career). Indeed, the album continues in this strong vein with the more "jazzy," if that word is applicable here at all, which I think it may be, "Roulette Dares (The Haunt Of)". This album really enjoys it's 3, 6, and 12 -figure times signatures, something that gives the whole album a unique, almost swingin' flow at times, and helps to color the darker atmosphere of the album. "Drunkship of Lanterns" is quite the tune, constructed with an almost headache-inducing salsa undertone that never lets up. One of the most oddly constructed songs I had heard when I first laid my ears upon it, though now it seems almost tame. Still, a wonderful track.

The album continues in this similar vein, yet every track stands out, and this is truthfully an album that does work well as a whole. "Cicatriz ESP" honestly stands out to me, along with the final track, as being the highlights of the album.

This debut did well what their follow-up Frances the Mute wouldn't, that is, with all of the ambiance intact, but never overdone. Yet I cannot help but feel that their follow-up also featured better song structures, and worked, if possible (and despite all of the so-called "filler" ambiance, of which some of it, indeed, is.) more cohesively as an album.

This one holds more water in the production area than ANY of their follow-up albums, as they had the talented Rick Rubin behind the board, which helps this album immensely. Honestly, some of the songs would not work well at all without his guidance in the production field (for proof, listen to some of the summer demo sessions of these songs, and in particular, listen to the half-done version of "Concertina" that Rubin began producing for this album, and compare it with the Tremulant EP version..Rubin's is, far and away, superior).

At any rate, this is certainly an impressive debut, and a great album; however, it has some weaker moments and certainly doesn't age well to these ears--the emotional impact is almost nonexistent for me now, after four years with this album.and that's a very short span of time for an album of this length to last. Ah well, an 8.7 or so on my scale, but just 4 stars on this one.

Figglesnout | 4/5 |


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