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The Mars Volta - Tremulant EP CD (album) cover


The Mars Volta


Heavy Prog

3.27 | 115 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Out of the ashes of At the Drive-In arises The Mars Volta. The group is led by guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala. This three-track EP shows the two further exploring the experimental, obscure side of At the Drive- In, and taking it to the next level. They dropped the agitated yelling from their vocal lines, which were used effectively in the past, but for where they were going now, there was no place for them. Cedric shows here that he has a good voice, but it certainly needed to be refined. The vocals on this EP are on key, and they are not bad by any means, but they were at some points weak and the vocal melodies were then not at their full potential. That aside, this gives us a little taste of the remarkable innovation these guys bear.

"Cut That City" opens the EP with a couple minutes of noise, noise that will become a notorious trait of the group, and abruptly explodes into the body of the song: an aggressive rhythm characterized by the wild, polyrhythmic, Latin-infused drumming of Jon Theodore and an overall tone reminiscent of latter day At the Drive-In. Only this time, sound manipulation and keyboards were present. Cedric's vocals enter shortly after. His vocals were clearly different from his earlier work; the melodies displayed were more intricate and demanded a wider range than ever. They were at times, unfortunately, a bit weak, and missing that raw intensity from before, but they did not take anything away from the song. Conservative may not be the correct term for them, but after listening to De-Loused in the Comatorium or Frances the Mute, that word may cross your mind. The same case would be found throughout the rest of the EP.

They then bring the tempo down with "Concertina," the EP's most accessible track. A softer intro and verse builds into an intense and memorable chorus, with a few other explosions later on. It even has a verse in Spanish. This song shows that the group could write accessible material, while still making it complex and creative, which is hard to do these days.

"Eunuch Provocateur" closes the EP. Another intriguing track. There is not much else to say from here on. A great, tight overall performance by the group.

Considering this is a debut EP, it is quite impressive, and a pleasant surprise for us. While the production was not up to par with what was to come, and some of the ideas could use some refining, it is still very enjoyable. There is no denying the band's creativity and potential. However, combining that with the imperfect vocals, we have ourselves only a four star piece.

The Mars Volta re-recorded "Concertina" and "Eunuch Provocateur" during what is known as the "Summer Demo Sessions," an early stage of the De-Loused recording. These versions far outdo the Tremulant versions. Cedric's vocals were perfect; everything that was an issue on the EP was corrected. That includes the production as well. They display the full potential of the songs. If you get a chance to hear them, do not pass it up.

Moatilliatta | 4/5 |


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