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The Mars Volta - The Bedlam in Goliath CD (album) cover


The Mars Volta


Heavy Prog

3.54 | 575 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

3 stars Releasing their fourth (count 'em, 1-2-3-4) album in only 5 years, The Mars Volta are a profilic force indeed. Into those years you also have to cram intense touring, handfuls of side-projects (does Omar even sleep?), collaborations, and general workaholism. Mars Volta are an intense band with an intense persona; both them and their music bleed an awkward dissonant energy. While they have always toyed with aural hallucinations (Cicatriz ESP, Cassandra Gemini) their sound here is both more haunted and more visceral, barely anchored by new drummer Thomas Pridgen. The genesis of this album is the stuff of rock and roll legend. Too keep a weird story short, the production of this album was somewhat possessed by ghosts from an ancient ouija board. Not even Tom Waits could spin a yarn that demented and play it with a straighface (or whatever passes for normality to that guy). I actually attended the ill- fated concert where they debuted the song Wax Simulacra live (Auckland, 2007), the first from the cursed recording sessions. Rumour has it that the performance was plagued with mysterious technical issues and Cedric broke his foot later that night, incapacitating him for months. It sounded alright to me.

For fans of the band (The Mars Volta):

My first question regarding this album was how it sounded compared to their previous work. Amputechture turned the erratic menace of De-Loused and Frances into a more focused but no less hypnotic animal, even sounding like classic prog in a few spots. This album does the opposite. Chaos and sonic density are emphasised herein. Guitars are filed down to metallic scraping, vocals are taught and howled, and the air is thick with intricate percussion fills. Some songs wander further away from the fields of pleasant listening and become nightmarish in the darkness. Askepios is the music equivalent of watching your floor slowly melt and bubble away. Goliath turns Omar's guitar into something monsterous and lascivious. Wax Simulucra is violent powderkeg of a song. This is The Mars Volta's best expression of their intensity as a wacked out psychaedelic band with a penchant for the unknown. One song that deserves it's dues is Ilyena, a tribute of sorts to actress Helen Mirren. After two songs of powerful noisia this gem shines as a reminder that trippy has a sunny side too, even if that manifests as alien funk via Zappa-land.

For fans of prog in general: Do you like heavy psychaedelic guitar work? Do you like non-sensical yet somehow profound lyrics? Mars Volta serve the two up in spades. The songs can be pretty abrasive and intense (that word again) but this is no issue to most prog fans. If your tastes are more 70s or 80s oriented (Rush, Pink Floyd, Alan Parsons) this may not tickle your fancy but, God bless, it just might. Heavy, trippy, and cool.

How does this rate in the bands discography?: Not the essential buy from the discography but its one hell of ride.

PS: I would have given it 3.5 if I could have.

Hicks_was_right | 3/5 |


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