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The Mars Volta

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The Mars Volta Amputechture album cover
3.89 | 645 ratings | 84 reviews | 29% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2006

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Vicarious Atonement (7:19)
2. Tetragrammaton (16:41)
3. Vermicide (4:15)
4. Meccamputechture (11:02)
5. Asilos Magdalena (6:34)
6. Viscera Eyes (9:23)
7. Day of the Baphomets (11:56)
8. El Ciervo Vulnerado (8:50)

Total Time 76:00

Line-up / Musicians

- Cedric Bixler-Zavala / vocals
- John Frusciante / lead & rhythm guitars
- Omar Rodriguez-Lopez / guitars, bass, sitar, tampura, producer, arranger & director
- Isaiah "Ikey" Owens / keyboards
- Adrián Terrazas González / flute, tenor saxophone, bass clarinet, percussion
- Juan Alderete / bass
- Jon Theodore / drums
- Marcel Rodriguez Lopez / percussion, keyboards, synthesizers, drums (4)
- Pablo Hinojos-González / sound manipulation

- Sara Christina Gross / saxophone (4)

Releases information

Artwork: Jeff Jordan

CD Universal Records ‎- B0007214-02 (2006, US)
CD Universal Records ‎- 0602517028029 (2006, Europe)

Thanks to silentman for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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THE MARS VOLTA Amputechture ratings distribution

(645 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(29%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(39%)
Good, but non-essential (24%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

THE MARS VOLTA Amputechture reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by OpethGuitarist
3 stars After debating heavily on where I should put this album, I decided to be as "fair" as I possibly could. In reality, I don't get much out of this album. I think it is better than Frances the Mute, but it's not good enough to be something I'd listen to consistently.

This album is an improvement in the MARS VOLTA sound from their previous album, but lacks the imagination that Deloused' had. It sounds considerably like an offshoot of Pink Floyd, especially the first song, Vicarious Atonement. Throughout the album, the guitar play is made mostly by what I will call "solo riffs". We have a lead guitar that is playing scale patterns to create most of the general riff patterns. For me this is not particularly enjoayble, as I generally prefer impressive chords combinations combined with a small bit of solo work. On Deloused we more or less had that, an example being the crashing chords that make track 2(Inertiac) come alive.

The band has almost gone full prog rock with this album, and that's not necessarily a bad thing, however, I just get the feeling that they are rehashing old ideas and not pushing the envelope like they did on Deloused with their more or less "punk" sound. I think the punk sound more aptly fits them as well, due to the nature of Cedric's voice. However, it is clear with this release that that is not the direction the band wants to take.

This album doesn't particularly do anything for me, but as it's an improvement over Frances and it's much better planned out, it's something that is worth holding on to for me. This album is a good choice for those looking for some commercial modern prog.

Review by Prog-jester
3 stars Sorry, but TMV has died completely for me with this one.I listen to it almost for a month,and every time it gets more disappointing for me.I don't want to wait untill it become a 1-star album,so you may have this review.

De-loused is their best,I guess.I dislike Frances,but it seems to be a Masterpiece comparing to THIS. TMV always wrote a lot of filler (maybe,to make their albums longer),but this time they have overgrown themselves - a whole album of filler material!!! OK,there is a one good song ("Vermicide"). But the others...Weak "Magdalena",noisy "Day of the Baphomets",boring "Meccamputechture",way too long intro and outro (with some post-rock touch...nice tunes,but 7 and 9 minutes?This is too much!!!) and "Tetragrammaton" with "Viscera Eyes" (I can describe them as "listenable"). I wonder what has happened to Volta - they have lost their challenging nature,and this album sounds exactly like the previous one,but in a degrading way. Things getting worse. What shall we got on their 4th? 79 minutes of noises? Sorry, I quit.

A Cue: Long songs doesn't equal Prog.

Review by NJprogfan
3 stars The two mainstream prog bands I was most looking forward to purchasing their new album's, TOOL and MARS VOLTA, I can honsetly say I was disappointed with both. They both suffer with the same problem, too much of a good thing. That especially holds true with MARS VOLTA'S latest. Like the ugly sister of a beauty queen, ('Frances The Mute') "Amputechure" features much of the same: blazing fast crazy beats mixed with high pitched vocals, a bit of spanish and a boatload of hyperspeed tempo changes. Sure, you get a somewhat pretty acoustic ditty to calm things down, ('Asilos Magdalena') and a track that might be the closest they come to an actual song, ('Vermicide') but the rest sound like leftovers from their previous album. The proof for me is that after listening to this album for a week, non-stop I can not for the life of me remember a single melody. Sure, they're not looking to be melodic, even though their first two albums had plenty, but I'm sorry, I'm looking to be reeled in somehow and this one didn't. It's not boring, not even close. And it's a grower, taking me awhile to find things to like. Maybe after my 100th listening I'll enjoy it more, but to my ears they tried making a meaty stew but ended up with just the meat and hard to chew at that. 3 stars on effort but not even close to being something I could recommend, (except maybe to fans of RIO/advant garde).
Review by Moatilliatta
5 stars After owning the album for a month and a half, I think it's done all the growing it needs. This is surely the most abstract and difficult listen from the group yet. I'm truely amazed at how many people are claiming this to be either the first Mars Volta album they could get into or that it was their best work yet (for the latter, at least when the album had just leaked on the internet; I don't see how it clicked so easily for them). I had so much anticipation pent up for this, and even more so since the release date was pushed back another three weeks from the initial projection. I managed not to hear a second of this before putting my copy in the CD player. Not knowing what to expect, here is what I encountered:

The first track was very nice, seven minutes of soft, blissful music unlike anything from before. It served as a great start, though it's not much of a stand-alone song. As I watched the time nearing the end of the first track, I braced myself, waiting for the inevitable explosion of maniacal brilliance. "Tetragrammaton" did provide the off-the- wall music I was anticipating, but it seemed surprisingly toned down. I can't even explain it, the tempos were high, the drumming was all over the place, etc. Everything was in its right place, Cedric even hit his highest notes yet (he seems to hit higher notes every album), but something just seemed different. Through the whole 16+ minutes of song, I was waiting to hear them go totally nuts, but the whole time I got nothing. It was rather restrained. It left me doing a mental shrug. The next track, "Vermicide," was an easy listen. The only track under 5 minutes, simple, but very good. "Meccamputecture" had a very cool intro, but then, as the preceding epic, it seemed so different than what I anticipated. It seemed more restrained, and empty. Considering it was 11 minutes long, there wasn't a whole lot of traversing, as I was accustomed to. "Asilos Magdalena" was beautiful, though it had a bizarre ending, which I didn't understand until later. It really had a thematic meaning when putting it to the lyrics (which are all in Spanish). Viscera Eyes was a real rocker. Cool tune, but not spectacular, until about five or six minutes into it when the song does a total change with a fun bassline. All that follows was one of the more enjoyable parts I had heard yet. Then, as we got to the final epic, I had really high hopes that it would bank on all of my hopes, and my goodness did it! Wow, "Day of the Baphomets" was everything I had hoped to hear from them here, the energy and power to be specific. There is a bass solo at the beginning and auxiliary percussion solo towards the end, which were neat surprises. Then, after being totally satisfied with that song, "El Ciervo Vulnerado" turned out to be a long, boring, useless track. It sort of rides the same lines as the intro, but it doesn't conclude anything; it doesn't even conclude itself (literally, the song cuts off in the middle of something, or nothing depending on how you view the song, either way, it ends out of nowhere). I was left confused, however I bet that was Cedric and Omar's aim. I don't even think they are ever going to revisit the incomplete ending of this album.

However, upon countless listens, almost everything I didn't get or appreciate clicked. The last track still does nothing for me, making it the first Mars Volta track that I can not give highest praise to. The epics are now all excellent in my eyes, and I am pleased. Even still, I can't help but put it below the previous two atom bombs. I appreciate it, but I don't see this one ever having the sentimental value the other two do. I'll give it 4 1/2 stars, rounded up, but know that it does not match the perfection of De-Loused in the Comatorium and Frances the Mute.

Review by Zitro
4 stars 4.5 Stars

The last Mars Volta album is a surprise. It is a masterpiece, but not without flaws. It seems like the band decided to avoid the mistakes they did in Frances The mute (long background music, bunch of noises, random songwriting) and focused on song-oriented music with songs that really do stand well on their own, as they don't seem connected to each other at all. The album is flawed because some songs don't end propertly and because (Maybe it's just me) the guitar playing and something the saxophone can sound a bit unpleasant due to their lack of melody whenever they play solos. Anyways, this is a great album with lots of innovation, wonderful musical ideas, Memorable riffs and melodies, and lots of variety. The popular "anti-pop" band surpassed themselves, releasing an album of high quality that will likely be considered a classic among progressive rock fans and all music for that matter. Here are all the songs:

Vicarious Atonement: How Interesting that the album begins with a song that doesn't really recall anything from their previous album (Frances The Mute). A spacey atmosphere created with keyboards, guitar synths, and sound effects dominate for minutes. the music is always slow and may bring to mind the mood of a typical Pink Floyd song in their early 70s space rock period. This song is driven by the unique voice of Cedric, the virtuosic guitar playing which is an acquired taste, and finally a wild and atonal Saxophone which takes the front in the avant-garde finale. The song ends abruptly which quite irritates me. 8/10

Tetragrammaton, a huge epic which doesn't overstay its welcome at all. This monster of a track throws at you a wide spectrum of melodies, riffs, tones, and rhythms. This monster of a track is the most representative Mars Volta song I know, showing you have inaccessible, complicated, creative, and masterful the band can be. However, I just can't find any major complaints about this song. The guitar is quite melodic this time, the vocals great and listenable, and the rhythm mindblowing at all times. The main reasons why this song stands as one of my favourite tracks of 2006 is the diversity of the song, the innovative music and the excellent riffs and themes this song posesses. Beware, this song is very difficult to get into. 10/10

Vermicide is a very pleasant sounding mid-tempo song with neat subtle riffs in the background, catchy vocal melodies--such as "when I became a lover, You fed me from your plate"--great vocal performance by Cedric, and very neat guitars, such as the melodic solo connecting the first chorus with the second verse and the heavier section after the second chorus which is followed with the melody of the guitar solo I described before. 9/10

Meccamputechture overstays its welcome a bit, knowing that it's mostly the same thing for over ten minutes, but this is really good music! The intro is easily the best intro I heard from a Mars Volta song, containing frantic instrumentation, rap-like singing, and a very catchy riff. Then, the singer sings his best melodies near the beginning under one of the grooviest and most amazing rhythm sections in the whole world of Progressive Rock. Under a rhythm of 6/4 with drumming recalling John Bonhman's "When the Levee Breaks" and a wonderful-sounding bass playing an insanely catchy bass line which I could say that it's my all-time favourite bass line in the history of music. You have to hear it. here is a variation of the rhythms and several different melodies and solos (unfortunately, a bit on the unmelodic side) but unfortunately, it is a shame that the song is longer than it should be. You have to listen to listen to the chorus of the song: mindblowing stuff! Meccamputechture ends with style, with the catchy intro riff, hammond organ soloing, and a main vocal melody of the song. 9/10

Asilos Magdalena: Begins very avant-garde and unmelodic, but after forty seconds, it develops into an outstanding acoustic song with satanic Spanish lyrics and subtle tempo changes between verses and choruses. The highlight of Asilos are the spooky, simple choruses that anyone could play on the guitar. After the second chorus, a great melody is repeated by Cedric with two acoustic guitars. Eventually, the vocals get more and more distorted until a, I'm sorry to say, horrible, repugnant, terrible, unmelodic, random, and uncomfortable guitar solo finishes the piece. It's such a shame that a wonderful song gets ruined by bad guitars. 7/10

Viscera Eyes: A song dominated by brilliant riffs, both in verses, pre-choruses, and choruses: they are some of the best riffs in this record. The choruses contain a great hook that would make this song radio-friendly if it wasn't so long. A musical break commences at minute six with a virtuosic guitar solo under a groovy rhythm. 8.5/10

Day of the Baphomets: The most interesting song of Amputechture. Beginning with a bass solo, the song turns into total chaos. This is the most inaccessible song there is here, mainly because it is complex and very loud. Like Tetragrammaton, it has many changes within the song, but is more coherent, and the sections are more enjoyable I dare to say, thanks to great riffs and solos. In minute 6, an amazing rhythmic riffs blows you away, and it will later come back with a mindblowing guitar solo. Between the space between the two riffs, you have a catchy and fast-paced section with a great background riff. The song ends with a percussion solo and frantic vocals. 10/10

El Ciervo Vulnerado: a mellow finisher that recalls the mood of Vicarious Atonement, yet is even slower. Unfortunately, this song never clicked on me. It's not filler not anything: the band put effort in this piece, but it just sounds directionless and dull to me. To make things worse, it finishes without a proper ending. 4/10

Who should get this album and who shouldn't: This album is certainly inaccessible due to its different style and unconventional vocals and songwriting. I think this album will be enjoyed by listeners who are up to opening their minds to something new and creative and people with a short attention span regarding music should really stay away. Also, fans of 70s prog rock who don't like King Crimson/Mahasuvishi Orchestra, etc should probably stay away too. This has a serious jazz-fusion influence, so you should take that into consideration. Also, fans of MArs Volta ... well, what are you waiting for??

My Grade : A/B

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars

A Bit of Background [that you might want to skip!]

The partnership between Omar Rodriguez-Lopez [who wrote and arranged all music and directs the group] & Cedrix Bixler-Zavala [who wrote all lyrics and vocal melodies] is The Mars Volta. That's exactly the phrases that I read right at the beginning of the sleeve note. This reinstates that this is basically a two-piece band. Well, actually it's not the case as the sleeve continues with a statement that there are members of The Mars Volta Group. Nevermind. What I'm really happy is that the fact that this album is printed and distributed locally at my country with reasonable price of USD 8. The previous album "Frances The Mute" was also printed locally here. I'm happy that Indonesia is becoming proggier than ever. Many young men that love Porcupine Tree, Pain of Salvation, The Tangent, The Flower Kings etc. Oh yes, we have PROG NITEs as well, featuring Indonesian bands like Imannissimo, In Memoriam, Anane, Nerv, etc. This site has been very popular also in my country. Good progress. Keep on proggin' ..!

While I was listening to "Amputechture" I also had this albums in my play list: Kamelot "The Fourth Legacy", Isildurs Bane "The Voyage - A Trip To Elsewhere", B2N Bernard "Helping Hands" (Indonesian jazz rock / fusion), SBB 2 & 3, Anglagard "Epilog" and Finnforest. This would give you some background on my writing nuance. I am sure my standpoint might be different if I got other albums that surround this review. It might.

The Album Review [that you might want to read ..]

THE MARS VOLTA "Amputechture" is more accessible to me than its previous album "Frances The Mute". At leasr, Amputechture has lesser sound effects that tends to be boring at "Frances". Even though the music is quite strange, with more spins it really grew on me.

The opening track "Vicarious Atonement" (7:19) is a true killer for me. It starts in an ambient mode with Floydian guitar solo. Well, it's not totally Floydian, I would say, it can be said "distorted" Floydian because the guitar sounds used are not clean as typical Pink Floyd track. But this track is truly excellent. The vocal line enters in a unique characteristic in low tone. Guitar accompanies the vocal, brings in bluesy style. The first time I listened to this track I thought that the music would change abruptly with the work of drums and bass - that's typical Mars Volta track, isn't it? But I was wrong! This track has nothing to do at all with drums - even cymbals or high hats. But it's really a stunning track!

"Tetragrammaton" (16:41) enters seamlessly just after first track is finished. The music sounds with each instruments like aiming into different directions but all of them creat good harmony. The combined work of vocal and guitar fills is good. To my ears and my mind, the music flows smoothly in medium tempo with excellent guitar work. Entering the minute 5, this song changes into different style but is not dramatically as it still has strong ties with earlier part. AT the end of minute 6 the song enters mellower part with no drumming. It suddenly changes into upbeat tempo and higher tone with different style. The music flows with unique rhythm, dynamic bass lines, falsetto guitar fills and weird (but unique) vocal line. This song structure and various styles might be unusual for many people. To me the band is truly explorative in nature. They dare to challenge the status quo in songwriting, I think.

"Vermicide" (4:15) is a medium tempo track with a style that is very unique. The harmony created between guitar fills and vocal melody line is good. The music sometimes changes abruptly. The melody changes dramatically in the middle of the track with vocal line somewhat tones down. The vocal moves up at the end of the track.

"Meccamputechture" (11:02) starts beautifully with punctuated vocal line and guitar distortion. This might be the track that the band has planned to be the most complex, the most distorted and the most explorative in nature compared to others. It has everything that The Mars Volta's sound is all about. It has all abrupt changes, brutal saxophone solo, distorted guitar sounds and tiny vocal line. It's probably the track where most people who love nice and well structured composition would runaway from listening to this album completely. I myself would not dare to play this track in public - especially with those who only like "generic" music. But, let me tell you honestly, try to digest this track "as-is" (not as what you expect "should be"), accept whatever notes, scales, chords or melody line this track offers. It's a bit disjointed at first listen as you might be confused with the direction of this track. But I think at third or fourth spin you might be able to "connect the dots" and feel how excellent this song is. But, don't force yourself if you have listened to it for five times and it does not click you at all. Forget it, just sell this CD to secondary market - I believe one of my friends would purchase it. For me personally, this track offers good exploration of music that I never (or rarely) heard before. But I don't consider this as weird track, event an excellent one.

"Asilos Magdalena" (6:34) brings the music into an acoustic mode (guitar) combined with keyboard sounds / effects. When vocal enters, it's basically an excellent stream of acoustic guitar which accompanies melodic singing style with Latin nuance. The acoustic guitar work is really stunning for my ears. Overall, this track is quite accessible for wider audience - it's the most digestive song from this album. But, if you only listen to this track, you got the wrong picture on TMV music style. The ending part comprises electric guitar solo which might cause some people hate it.

"Viscera Eyes" (9:23) opens with short sound effects followed with upbeat music that reminds me to King Crimson - just before the vocal enters. Oh man . I really enjoy when the vocal enters with first lyrical phrases .. I love it. Its melody is very good, its singing style is unique. The accompanying music is quite strange, unusual I would say. But I cannot deny that they all produce nice harmony. The guitar solo is really excellent, augmented with a balanced sound effects from keyboard. This track is as complex as "Meccamputechture". The music suddenly changes at approx minute 5:55 through the work of bass guitar, followed with excellent guitar solo.

"Day of the Baphomets" (11:56) opens with a bit of Latin beats as ground but it actually demonstrates excellent bass guitar work in which bass serves as melody. It's a cool opening, I tell you. What follows is a complex arrangement that reminds me to "Island" album of King Crimson. I have to admit the virtuosity of the bad in crafting a music which I think quite original and explorative in nature. I'm really entertained with this album Hello? This is already track 7 out of 8 tracks - so if until now I enjoy it, that means I do enjoy the whole album! "El Ciervo Vulnerado" (8:50) concludes the album with similar vein like opening track "Vicarious Atonement".


My overall conclusion might be biased towards the kind of albums that surrounds me by the time I write this review (see "A Bit of Background" above). I'm saying this because I'm sure that this kind of music by TMV would definitely split prog audience into two: those who like it and those who don't and even hate it (and therefore they don't want to write any opinion about this album). But that's natural in prog music because nothing is truly straightforward and there is no true value of nearly everything, isn't it? As for my case, I highly recommend this album to those who sincerely want to be open mind, accept whatever presented by the musicians, willing to explore into different world, let the mind be guided with whatever arrangements and melody line the album offers and then make an opinion about it. If you have already had a preconceived mind about what prog music should sound like, forget about it. It wastes your time. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by TRoTZ
3 stars It's pitty that the band sometimes gets loss in their pretension, exaggerating to much when the listener got the picture several minutes ago. If they did not had to push always music to fill up the capacity of the cd, perhaps the album would sound more cohesive and some excesses would be evitable. That is applicable to the longer songs, particularly the first two ones. The album is, in general, more accessible than the previous one. If the band abandoned part of its punk aproach in "Frances the Mute", in this album they abandon most of their latin too.

The opener "Vicarious Atonement" introduces to the album in a somewhat Mars-Volta-vision- of-Pink-Floyd-feeling, in a thrilling way. "Tetragrammation" condensates most of the bands new ideas, well actually long driven bizarre guitar riffs a la Frank Zappa or modern King Crimson, some strange voice effects and that's all. Most of the rest of the album does not bring much of new, "Vermicide" is the "Widow" of the album, but not as strong. In "Meccamputechture" an inspired distorted bizarre bass line dominates most of the track, in the middle of the jazzy energetic overture and ending but clearly exceeds in time. The beautiful intimist accoustic ballad "Asilos Magdalena" is the only latin remain on the album. "Viscera Eyes" is a more straight-written track, once more bass driven, very energetic as well as the unsteady "Day of the Baphomets", an amalgam of saxophones, tribal sound rythms, spacey psychadelic background sounds, psichadelic guitar, guitar jam explosions and refrains a la Red Hot Chili Peppers. Perhaps the best of the album and the one, within its essency, resembles more the sound of their last album.

Perhaps their weakest album, but still, does not disappoint. One year does not give normally the enough time to great improvements or great maturity development, but the band proves once again to have a respectfull compositional sector. 3,5 stars.

Review by fuxi
3 stars This is probably the most truly 'progressive' rock album released in 2006. It may have been released on a mainstream label, and even non-proggers may have heard of this band, but that doesn't change a thing. In contrast to 'nice' symphonic prog bands like the Flower Kings or Spock's Beard, the Mars Volta take genuine risks and really try to blow the listener's mind. Their music is complex, hectic and often wildly exciting. Calling it 'commercial modern prog' just doesn't make sense. It's no more commercial than A PASSION PLAY or TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS.

Unfortunately, that's not AMPUTECHTURE's only resemblance to those notorious mid- seventies beasts. For what exactly is the concept behind this album? What do all the disjointed images mean? Cedric, the band's lyricist, belongs to the "I wants to make your flesh creep" camp of writing. His lyrics about 'sepulchers' (which he bizarrely pronounces as 'sePULchers'), 'holding up your entrails' and such, sound rather sophomoric. They do not fill this listener with horror; they merely annoy. And don't get me started on Cedric's shrieking. His high-pitched vocals were (just) bearable when he got to sing recognisable melodies (as on DELOUSED or FRANCIS THE MUTE, both of which I enjoyed), but with this album he seems to have tipped over the edge.

Nevertheless, AMPUTECHTURE is worth a listen, simply because of the visionary quality of the band's playing. Sax, lead guitar, organ, bass and drums all deserve praise, and ensemble playing is impeccable. Would it be too much to ask for an instrumental album next?

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars Third album from this group that seems to confirm its status as one of the rare original prog artistes from the new millennium, Amputechture builds from DLITC and FTM. Graced with a rather doubtful artwork, this "little baby" becomes a huge oeuvre with repeated listening and everything I thought of after their very promising debut, but not entirely delivered with the only half successful FTM, is now coming to fruition. Still that tiny but meaningful link with RHCP (John Frusciante this time, instead of Flea or Chad) and that unmistakable psych rock (yummy!!) influence present, the group soars to new heights.

Right from the jaw-dropping opening Vicarious Atonement (Tool's excellent latest album also starts with a track named this way) and onto the cornerstone almost 17-min Tetragrammaton, this album sizzles, dizzies, dazzles but does not fizzle out. Generally this old dog is not easily converted to arrogant young puppies, but in this case, the arrogance is rather well deserved. The best thing with TMV is that you know almost instantly you're on a TMV album, and there is no mistaking/confusing like most of their modern peers usually do with the ancient gods. And the mind-boggling goes on with Vermicide and the title track, both just as stupendous as the earlier ones. And clearly the group is gaining more maturity with each new album as not only is the songwriting is

The one thing is that the album does run out of steam at the end, with the Latino-tinged El Ciervo, but it seems I am not really receptive to this facet of the group (even if I love Asilos Magdalena) as I had the same feeling on the previous albums. Outside these few imperfections, TMV is confirming their place alone at the top of the prog mountain range, with their closer cousins only resembling foothills. Can you believe this old geezer chose this album to end the year and open the new one? Don't get your hopes up too high though, I miscalculated its length. Yup I did not think I could fool you that much. TMV's best so far.

Review by hdfisch
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!!

Review by Neu!mann
4 stars As a kid I used to think GENTLE GIANT (or maybe HENRY COW, or maybe KING CRIMSON at their "FraKctured" mid-'70s zenith) played the most complex music ever to be pigeonholed as rock 'n' roll. But my late exposure to THE MARS VOLTA has forced me to raise that particular bar a notch or two.

If you take the same degree of difficulty, update the technology to 21st century standards, and add whatever drugs weren't available in the 1970s, the end result might sound a lot like The Mars Volta. Simply put, this is dangerous music: Progressive Rock with its velvet symphonic gloves off, and completely shorn of any residual innocence from Prog's golden age.

Converts will already know what to expect from the band's latest and arguably most accomplished album to date: an aural assault of Latino-tinged psychedelic metal, with a rich, busy blend of hyperactive English/Spanish lyrics and (in my own purely subjective knee-jerk reading) what almost sounds like a somewhat disturbing medical cyber-porn subtext. It's enough to scare away the more refined Progheads among us, but newcomers not yet conditioned to the group's unique ethos ought to at least give them a sporting chance: open your ears, and maybe your mind will follow.

There probably isn't much else to say about the album after more than 100 reviews so far (and counting), except to note that it isn't designed to work very well in smaller doses. But at the same time it also demands a lot of attention when played at length, and may sound a little uneven, if not downright chaotic, at first exposure. This is a band (and more power to them) unable to present even a simple interlude for solo acoustic guitar (as in the flamenco-flavored "Asilos Magdalena") without adding a token measure of techno-gimcrack embellishment.

But maybe the best thing to be said about the album (and the same applies to everything I've heard from the band) is that it won't wear out its welcome anytime soon: expect plenty of replays before it even starts to grow stale or familiar. Can the group continue to maintain the same high level of dizzy creativity for much longer? No one can answer that, but in the meantime The Mars Volta ought to be enjoyed for what they are: a welcome dose of shock therapy in a largely complacent musical culture.

Review by laplace
2 stars Following the success and artistic freedom of "Frances the Mute", the Mars Volta take a direction that greatly disappoints this reviewer.

On "Amputechture" the extensive jamming - think "Cassandra Gemini" - has been greatly cut back, along with the noise that helped bridge between compositions. This is perhaps a wise move if they want to appeal to the pure prog audience but frustrates because of what is left behind; a lot of songs here suffer from the inability to gel, and instead of the smooth transitions we would have been treated to on "Frances" we get sudden jumps from passage to passage. It's still a wild ride, but this reviewer far prefers being lost in the Mars Volta's fog to this transparency.

The psyched-out latin touches are back in abundance and represent some of the most luscious moments on "Amputechture", and these tracks ARE hazy and fluid, so no complaints about those. "Tetragrammaton" is the first extended track and starts promisingly with a rather unnatural chord sequence which keeps you on your toes - that's great fun but it heightens the disappointment when the song settles into the A and B verses, because they're TOO catchy! Elements of progressiveness are high in this track, in a neo- way, but the vocal lines are too sugary for this reviewer, who prefers that artistic rock distances itself from pop music; some songs on "Amputechture" embrace it in the same way we have come to embrace the "skip track" button.

"Vermicide" would fit comfortably on the final At the Drive-In album - it's short and echoey with a fairly simple structure, a perfect playground for Cedric's increasingly stringy voice. "Meccamputechture" is "Tetragrammaton" part two - not in theme but in musical progression - and doesn't even offer up a striking introduction before it starts being seductive and groovy. Again, not what we need to hear from an ambitious band. "Viscera Eyes" is the same way, but perhaps forgivable as it serves as a single.

"Day of the Baphomets" gets its own paragraph as it's the reason to listen to "Amputechture". A long freak-out on sax and electric piano leads into a ATDI-style vocal line that hops along the first percussive groove on this album that entertains without being too marketable. Yes, the chorus is quite infectious but has an apocalyptic quality to it that makes it a delight to hear, and once you've forgiven that, the song heads into another spacy duel between sax and Omar's signature squawking guitar tone. More than anything else here, this is the song that will placate the long-term fans.

Two stars because of this reviewer's misgivings and the feeling that a sizable portion of the Mars Volta's audience has been sidelined or woefully misjudged, but these are still solid songs - just very catchy and grating on the nerves. If this had been an EP composed of the four best tracks in evidence it would have earned five stars without breaking a sweat.

Review by russellk
4 stars Fascinating, this. Not a single 5-star review from the official 'prog reviewers' and not much else but 5-star reviews from the rest of us. THE MARS VOLTA really does have the power to divide - and it appears this album was a disappointment to most.

This is the easiest of their three albums to get into. The opening and closing tracks, and the middle track ('Asilos Magdalena') are gentle, though not in the class of 'Miranda' or 'Televators' from previous albums. The real action takes place in the five-barrelled assault of the remaining tracks, which are much more straightforward than some of their previous offerings.

We are given a gentle, almost lyrical introduction, with 'Vicarious Atonement' (the unifying theme here is a critical appraisal of religion) winding up slowly until, at 4:50, chord changes and a swirling organ suggest the song is about to launch ... but instead it detumefies, with BIXLER-ZAVALA crooning 'Don't let these hands/sharpen your eyes.' Then the drums blast us into 'Tetragrammaton', which is remniscent of 'Cicatriz' with its powerful riff and psychedelic breakdowns. I find this track clumsy and overlong, and it signals a sparser THE MARS VOLTA: this album doesn't pack in a million musical ideas per square inch. Maybe just a couple of hundred thousand.

The casual listener will enjoy the hook-laden 'Vermicide': with slower pace, it's oh-so-typical staccato chorus, GILMOUR-esque solo and it's manageable length, it's a good anchor after the too-long 'Tetragrammaton'.

And then the album explodes in an orgy of sound, as 'Meccamputechture' bursts into life with a searing spoken delivery and the most outrageous honking horn hook. This, now THIS, is the real stuff. This track struts, it pounds, it swirls, it intoxicates. Nothing else in the world of rock sounds remotely like this: rhythm against rhythm, swirling guitars, rumbling distorted bass, crystalline vocals. I'll own up and say this song is my favourite THE MARS VOLTA track. The repeated chorus 'Please dismantle' ... to 'Everyone stabs', with its building excitement and kaleidoscopic hammond-like organ - this is IKEY OWENS' track as much as anyone's - lifts the song into the stratosphere every time it appears. 'Humans as ornaments, humans as ornaments ...' As powerful a critique of organised religion as I've come across - and this from a former pastor. The change of beat after the second chorus heralds a fabulous battle between horn and guitar, ended by the crescending drums. The bass continues to rumble magnificently. Just how did they think of that sound? And what FRUSCIANTE does with his wah-wah guitar in the third (doubled) chorus is sensational. This track is already a winner, worth the price of the album and more, but the finish is just genius, with a full-on psychedelic freakout (is there nothing they can't do?) leading to a restatement of the honking opening theme with the best keyboards I'm ever likely to hear, a LED ZEPPELIN-like duel between OWENS' organ and BIXLER-ZAVALA'S voice. Flat out the best song I've heard since 1975. When I saw them do this live earlier this year I almost ... well.

Whew. 'Asilos Magdalena' separates the five power tracks, a gentle Spanish vocal and guitar which gradually morphs into a shockingly sinister piece, its electronic distortion heralding the arrival of the giant riff of 'Viscera Eyes', the album's single. Again, like 'Tetragrammaton', I can't help feeling the ideas here are drawn out a little further than in previous albums. Great horns, but that riff outstays its welcome. When the song changes shape after six minutes it comes as a relief: when have I ever thought that of a THE MARS VOLTA track before? Accessible, but ultimately dispensable. I liked them better when they underused their ideas, when a riff or chorus disappeared before I got used to it, when I had to play the album again and again ... A great FRUSCIANTE guitar solo closes this song out - come on JOHN, you're wasted in the CHILI PEPPERS, join this band full time, you know you want to. Bring FLEA with you.

'Day Of The Baphomets' rescues the second half of the album. Beginning with a wonderful bass riff that raises the hackles on your neck, this track reminds us of the creativity these fellows have in spades. Listening to this is like cavorting with demons (literally, given the title). Were I still in the church I'd be sprinkling holy water all over this, so rich and redolent of the occult is the imagery of this song. 'El Ciervo Vulnerado' bears us gently down (or, more likely, up) to mortal lands, and the experience is over.

Not as powerful as the first two THE MARS VOLTA albums, 'Amputechture' still packs more energy and power in its grooves than anything else released in 2006. It is a five-star album to me, but a merely mortal effort, rather than the superhuman albums of their early career. I'm torn: 'Meccaputechture' and 'Day Of The Baphomets' are essential listening. Ah, it's only a number. If I only give it four stars the ground isn't going to open up and swallow *argh*

Review by Prog Leviathan
5 stars A mature and precise shift in emphasis shows that Mars Volta is hardly through with growing... or progressing as musicians for that matter. "Amputechture" is by far the classiest album the band has released. It is wholly coherent, densely layered with a fine mix of melody and effects, and features mature songs with a strong sense of direction and purpose. There are few, if any, real sections of mad-capped improvisation, and the whole effect is that of a sweeping composition overflowing with fantastic instrumental and vocal work. Lyrically heavy, "Amputecture" shows Mars Volta in a very focused light, and does not disappoint.

From the delicate buildup of the first song to the rhythmic intensity of songs like "Tetragammatron" and (the delightfully named) "Day of the Baphomets", this album has more variety in tone and mood than any of their previous works, and while I admit that it lacks as many WOW moments, I always-- always finish it once I've started it and never get bored. In fact, with every listen I discover something I hadn't noticed before, and am thoroughly convinced that it is one of the most creative albums to come out in a long time, and that Mars Volta should be praised for doing something original with the art form. There is nothing else like this out there.

Very highly recommended.

Songwriting: 5 Instrumental Performances: 5 Lyrics/Vocals: 5 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Review by Raff
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The release of TMV's fourth studio album is drawing nearer and nearer, but I - a confirmed fan of the band - hadn't yet got round to reviewing their third studio offering - an album that, like the two before it, rarely leaves listeners totally indifferent. TMV are a band that can command passionate love and equally passionate hatred. Like a 21-century ELP, they are unabashedly self-indulgent, gloriously pretentious, utterly over-the-top in their perversely obscure lyrics, their intriguing, vaguely disturbing artwork, their highly eclectic approach to musical composition that shamelessly blends prog with other, often contrasting genres. Together with Porcupine Tree and a few other bands, they are considered the blueprint for modern prog - though, unlike Steven Wilson's crew, they have never felt the need to deny their allegiances. They are that odd creature - a band who have achieved mainstream success in spite of trying their best to be as inaccessible as they could. How can prog fans not love them?

All jokes aside, "Amputechture" is probably TMV's most mature album to date, even if to these ears it's not the blistering, ground-breaking masterpiece that "De-loused in the Comatorium" was. It contains all the trademark features of TMV's output, from the zany song titles to the heady mix of musical styles and textures. Though not a concept album, unlike its predecessors, it does come in a way full circle, at least in a musical sense. Indeed, opener "Vicarious Atonement" and closer "El Ciervo Vulnerado" share the same nature of slow-burning, intense, ambiance-laden songs, where Cedric Bixler-Zavala's distinctive vocals get a chance to shine, and prove to the prog world that he is much more than a post-hardcore screamer. Being a longtime fan of Rush's mighty Geddy Lee, I never had any trouble in getting into Cedric's vocal style. He can indeed be called Geddy's legitimate heir: an acquired taste to some, but a man who can surely sing.

All the album's tracks but one are over 6 minutes in length, with three of them exceeding 10 minutes, thus avoiding the overkill that was "Cassandra Geminni", with its 32-plus minutes filled with assorted noises. As a matter of fact, the noise quotient in "Amputechture" is kept to a bare minimum, while the melody quotient is definitely upped - not just in the two songs previously mentioned, but also in the unusual "Asilos Magdalena", where Cedric plaintively delivers his Satanic-tinged, Spanish lyrics to the accompaniment of an acoustic guitar, and in "Vermicide" (the shortest track, also released as a single), with its catchy chorus and spacey guitar lines.

The three longer tracks, "Tetragrammaton", "Meccamputechture" and "Day of the Baphomets", are less easily digestible and need to be listened carefully to be appreciated - TMV don't pander to those who need background music in their lives. If you wanted to be hypercritical, you could say that sometimes their 'epics' sound like sonic crazy quilts, made up of different pieces patched together without any apparent plan. However, the same could be said of some of the undisputed classic of Seventies prog ("A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers", anyone?). All the three tracks feature liberal use of horns, angular, sometimes positively dissonant riffs, complex, wildly veering rythms and slower, atmospheric breaks. Just like in their previous albums, strong jazz, psychedelic and Latin influences are quite noticeable, while the manic energy derived from the band's hardcore punk roots has been tempered and matured.

It can't be denied that TMV are not everyone's cup of tea, and hopefully they will never be. Challenging and in-your-face, they are probably the most authentically progressive of the new bands, bar none. While the naysayers will continue to have a field day every time a new album is released, those with an open mind will be waiting for new surprises from this abrasive, uncompromising, yet incredibly exciting band. Long may they reign.

Review by sleeper
4 stars As we come to The Mars Volta's third album, the band is moving from being the new blood in progressive rock and into being the established leading lights of modern prog. Where Frances the Mute took the themes of De-Loused and vastly upped the amount of electronic trickery and experimentation, Amputechture goes the other way. Much of the electronic soundscapes are gone, replaced by instrumental soundscapes supplemented with complimentary samples and noise. The result is the kind of album I really was hopping the band to make, one that focuses their style onto their musicianship creating a powerful blast of heavy rock, but not without its subtleties. However, though this album is a big improvement over Frances the Mute, it still isn't perfect. In the two previous albums you could hear that the band were playing close to the edge of chaos, that if they strayed slightly they would have fallen into a complete atonal mess. On Amputechture the band has clearly taken a slight step back from that edge and played ever so slightly safer than before, most notably in the rhythm section, though the occasional breakout still happens. Secondly, the longer songs don't seem to flow anywhere near as well as previous epics from the band did, shifts in the music are bit clunkier. All in all, the result is a fine album that doesn't quite reach the heights that the band scaled on their debut.
Review by ProgBagel
3 stars The Mars Volta - 'Amputechture' 3.8 stars

The Mars Volta's 'Tales from Topographic Oceans'.

This music by Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and lyrics by Cedrid Bixlar-Zavala create their most obscure one yet with this release. It took me about 5 spins to like it and after 20 spins to recognize one or two songs without looking to see which one is being played. I find this album to be the worst so far because I think this album was just released at a bad time. Omar's compositions are definitely his most complete and varied and the music in a whole is extremely complex. I tend to think this music is avant-garde at times. There is also more brass instrumentation included, not necessarily arranged, but part of that actual music itself.

Some problems with this album are the opener and closing songs 'Vicarious Atonement' and 'El Ciervo Vulnerado'. There are both similar in that it is just extremely slow and atmospheric. Not necessarily a bad thing but when they combine for a total of over 15 minutes it seriously annoys me. Like a hamburger, the meat and toppings are absolutely superb. The only exception is 'Asilos Magdalena' which is in my opinion the worst Mars Volta song so far. Just sounds like a representation of slow Spanish cultural music which I am not found of. 'Viscera Eyes' which was turned into a single from the album is a little too long to be that great in my opinion. Anyway, more of half this album contains excellent music. 'Vermicide' is the only piece that has any sort of structure to it and is one I consider the best. The three pieces that go above 10 minutes are all very good. 'Day of the Baphomets' is one of them that I still don't understand and the only song on the album that I cannot remember anything from after 20 listens. It is that much of a complex track that it is impossible to memorize, which I think is brilliant.

Really complex arrangements on this album that I doubt The Mars Volta will go beyond these borders. This is one of those albums that might get more popular as they put out more music and stick out like a sore thumb in their library. A 'Tales from Topographic Oceans' if you will.

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Systemized Chaos

Masters of the frantically melodic and melodically frantic, The Mars Volta's third album, Amputechure is a slight departure from their previous works. While previous albums showed music that was not much different than noise, this one still approaches the tunes that same way but... safer. There's nothing in this album we haven't already heard from these guys, and while the songs are so viciously structured as they have previously, that ''safe'' feeling just keeps creeping in. Still heavy and still frantic, the band has changed a bit.

Starting with the Floyd-esque opener, Vicarious Atonement the band immediately decides that you don't get their head shattering noise fest for a good number of minutes. No complaints here, the song is quite the quiet trip which is very nice to hear from the boys. A rare moment of calm before the storm. As usual, there's a number of long songs on the album. Three here that overtake the 10-minute mark and one that comes close to 17. The 17-minute behemoth Tetragrammaton represents everything we've come to expect from the band. Noise melody hidden behind tones of instruments that bombard the listener with all they've got. Then we come into the first of the shorter tracks. It's really these where the band decided to take a different approach - more in kin with their At The Drive In days. Most noticable are the vocals in this track as the rest seems to ambiently sweep along. Hate to say it, but bring back that noise!!

Fortunately they do, Meccamputecture is another frantic song which is likely the standout of the album with it's 11-minute duration, lush melodies once again providing a very mind boggling experience. Day Of The Baphomets is much in the same. The other songs on the album are, again, shorter and, again, more typical in structure. The killer riff of Viscera Eyes starts off a nice rocker which is a great listen and Asilos Magdalena provides a very creepy track with the FXed vocals, once again the unfortunately most noticeable part about the song.

So while there's nothing wrong with this album as it's all quite good the band really failed to simply do what they've done all along by simply doing what they've done all along. 3 stars - good, but not quite as essential as their last 2 efforts. This one simply doesn't step out of the safe zone enough to really make a mark but it still manages to hit up some rocking tunes and some memorable moments. Fans shall be delighted, critics shall be unconvinced.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars The band might well claim that they are fed up with the Led Zep comparison (of which they should be very proud of) but as long as they will produce such a music, there is no wonder that such a comparison is taking place.

"Amputecture" is another kilometric album (just under eighty minutes of "music"). The lengthy album disease stroke back. Again.

One gets the usual mix between psychedelic wild imaginings ("Vicarious Atonment") which are pretty much useless and are nothing but fillers and some great but sub-par Led Zep influenced songs.

The best of "Amputecture" is by far the excellent "Tetragrammaton" which is a correct representation of their work in general. Disjointed and psychedelic parts, high-pitched and screaming vocals sections, combined with hardish and loose guitar breaks.

Even if I'm not a huge TMV fan, I can easily understand how comes all the hype about this (relatively) new band. My only worry being that this sort of music was already played almost forty years ago by who you should know by now.

One major difference still. And I have already mentioned this in a previous TMV review. They play in the studio like Led Zep on stage. Meaning overlong and extremely complex solo, instrumental parts. I have been bred with the fantastic call / response work from the giants and the ones I hear from TMV are just clones. But good ones, I admit.

Don't misunderstand. I like TMV. But only moderately. IMHHO, their best effort so far is their debut album which I rated with four stars. Frances was quite a deception, but I have to say that "Amputecture" does hold fine moments of which the absolute highlight is "Tetragrammaton".

"Vermicide" is a short jewel (in TMV standards) which displays some great and wild feeling. I quite like the band while they "shorten" some of their songs. When they don't feel obliged to extend their compositions exaggeratedly ("Meccamputechture"). If ever some of you might get irritated by Plant's voice, I'm afraid that you won't be able to bear Cedric's one. But it's not a problem for me.

One great feature of the band is of course their habit to produce some of their songs in Spanish. I am of course rather sensitive to this since half of my life is Mexican. When you listen to a song as "Asilos Magadelena" you can only be blown away. To go on with the Led Zep similarity you can compare this one with, let's say, "Going To California" or "That's The Way". Just to get you the picture.

The bilingual and funky "Viscera Eyes" was actually already written some time ago (in a pre-TMV line- up) but doesn't sound alien to this album. Just that this lengthy track doesn't move me at all if you would except a great and fully page oriented guitar solo. Did you say original???

"Day of the Baphomets" is probably the most chaotic track from this album. The disjointed sax inevitably brings me back to VDGG. But I'm not thrilled with this song. It goes into too many directions and I can't find any understandable storyboard in here. Pure wildness with little feeling. Not my cup of tea.

A good album which could have been better if you would exclude the opening track as well as the "Baphomets" stuff. The closing number is also limit. Another psyche trip as the opener. Was it to loop the loop? In this case they have succeeded in their concept. But I am not at all convinced with these highly "loaded" interpretations or sounds.

Three stars.

Review by MovingPictures07
5 stars The Mars Volta are certainly a band that can polarize regular music fans and the same applies to the world of prog. However, I think their absolute unique blend of music is one of the most important assets that prog has had to its disposal, particularly in the 2000s where most prog hitting into the mainstream is on the metal side.

1. Vicarious Atonement- Very soulful guitar and vocal emphasis on this entry song. The atmosphere produced by Omar's guitar and Cedric's incredible vocals is quite stunning and works as a good opener to this album. I love when towards the end the piano comes in as well and builds on the atmosphere, eventually descending into chaos. 9/10

2. Tetragrammaton- Brilliance. This has to be one of the best songs written in the past decade, and there really is ALOT going on in it. Omar must have quite a good knowledge of music theory, since this composition is incredibly complex and accomplished. The guitar is perfect throughout in every aspect, the song really is experimental, and the song works amazingly as a piece. It is the longest track on the album, but for me it doesn't feel that long. This is absolute perfection that truly explores new grounds for music. Flawless. 10+/10

3. Vermicide- Good song, but easily the worst on the album. A shorter interlude that is more straightforward in structure. Cedric's vocals are good, the instrumentation is decent, but I could have actually done without this song. Nonetheless, I never skip it. 7/10

4. Meccamputechture- Brilliance strikes again! This, along with Tetragrammaton, is the best part of the album. TMV pulls some punk influences here, but they really work. The structure is very experimental, Cedric's vocals are out of control and spot on, and everything still flows despite the unconventional musical structure. Singing to this song is also nearly as enjoyable as the song, which says quite a bit. EVERYONE STABS---ALL THE TIME! Flawless. 10+/10

5. Asilos Magdalena- Spanish guitar track that is experimental in structure. Very good vocals again from Cedric in an intriguing contrast from the previous song. The Spanish lyrics work quite well and the mood is sustained perfectly until eventually descending into a twist (as usual with TMV) towards the end with dissonance and vocal modifiers. Good song. The atmosphere again is very effective. 9/10

6. Viscera Eyes- Great rockier song from TMV here! Wonderful structure as always, the song is written very well, covers new ground, amazing instrumentation, memorable parts included with challenging, and it flows. This is one hell of a good song. 9/10

7. Day of the Baphomets- Further sonic assault! More of a rockier element to parts of this one much like the previous song, separated with parts that are noisier, experimental, and slower. However, the song covers new ground and nothing that was already said in the previous songs is said again. The guitar here is great, the opening extremely effective and powerful, and again the song feels like it is shorter than the actual length. My favorite parts are the guitar all throughout (of course) and the really cool experimental Latin-esque drums/percussion part accompanied with Cedric's falsetto vocals at the end. Awesome song. 10/10

8. El Ciervo Vulnerado- Very experimental, slower song here. Almost like a creepier version of the entry song, this is an intriguing way to end the album. I'm not sure if I would have ended the album this way, but it works. It's not really my favorite song and it doesn't hit me as well as some of the other absolute masterpiece songs on here, but it still is pretty good. The mood is distorted and creepy; Cedric's vocals combined with the very odd instrumentation work pretty well. 8/10

You definitely need an open mind for this album and be warned that it may never click for you, as this album and band have proven to be an acquired taste. However, that doesn't make this album any less of a masterpiece of progressive music, a title which it rightly deserves for its sheer brilliance in instrumentation, atmosphere, and experimentation.

Review by Sinusoid
4 stars The opening and closing psychedelic affairs are pretty hard to sit through, mostly because they last much longer than necessary. Other than that, AMPUTECHTURE is a sonic assault on the ears with a very prog-like complexity to it. The songs are generally in the mini-epic to epic range with the ''Tetragrammation'' thing taking the cake at nearly seventeen minutes.

AMPUTECHTURE is much louder, more aggressive and more relentless than many of the classic prog albums from the golden age of prog. ''Tetragrammation'' starts with a bang out of nowhere after the calm ''Vicarious Atonement'', and retains the listener's interest throughout the epic length with guitar squeal-outs, odd-timed ''choruses'', and appropriate dynamic changes. It's in competition with ''Days of the Baphomets'' for the best song on the album as Baphomets has an interesting bass solo at its beginning.

Some fundamental cases of ''stretching a piece too long'' are here with ''Meccamputechture'' and ''Asilios Magdalena'' with noise ambiences that seem to add nothing. ''Vermicide'' is an awkward attempt at something more radio-friendly that gets warmer as you keep trying to listen to it. Cedric's vocal overdubs sound way too chirpy and are annoying at worst.

DE-LOUSED is a better album for starters, but even with its flaws, AMPUTECHTURE sees the Mars Volta at a peak compositionally that aims for the listener's attention.

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Very powerful music abounds on this frighteningly wild gathering of eight generally lengthy songs. My favorite song is on this unrestrained yet somehow skin-tight album, and there's a lot more where that came from. There are a couple of songs that don't please me nearly as much, but they do not take away from an otherwise maniacally commanding collection of hard rock. Some of the group's most inexplicable lyrics are here, which is not to say they cannot be interpreted given the listener's own proclivity to do so- just be prepared for a headache or two in the process. The epic of the album is the song I give credit to dragging me kicking and screaming into loving The Mars Volta, and is one to this day that chills my spine every time I hear those opening notes. Like the two preceding it, this is a fantastic album. And the title is befitting: The album ends abruptly- amputated as it were.

"Vicarious Atonement" Peculiar noises serve as a spacey backdrop for guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez to warm up his fingers and that grainy tone of his. Vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala begins singing over the sparse instrumentation, with his partner escorting him almost note for note. It is a breathy piece, both with regard to the airy instrumentation (notably because of the lack of drums) and the very audible inhalations and exhalations of the singer.

"Tetragrammaton" The word representing the four-letter Hebrew name of Almighty God serves as the title for The Mars Volta's greatest accomplishment. It interrupts everything going on in the previous track in a furious eruption of choppy guitar notes and the drumming of what can only be an unchained beast. The lyrics are haunting to me, as they transport unutterable images and scenes to my mind. The chorus is at once insanely reckless and implausibly tight. Bixler-Zavala employs the range of his voice, reaching for notes in the ether. Rodriguez-Lopez casts spells on his guitar tone, producing inconceivable noises, even detuning the instrument until it growls. A long, mellower section with some repetitive brass music, some vocalizing, and guitar soloing follows. It is in a 4/4 time signature, but it intuitively does not count like one (I had to count the beats several times just to assure myself that it was indeed a straight four). The introduction is reprised with several noisy guitar embellishments to bring this ultimate piece to a static-ridden end.

"Vermicide" The static of the previous track brings in this relatively short song, which I personally would rank among the band's most radio-friendly work. It has a catchy chorus, and some fairly straightforward music (with the exception of that of the bridge, which carries on in 15/8). I really enjoy the instrumentation, and I believe this to be one of the band's best songs under five minutes.

"Meccamputechture" Once again the music is on the loud and experimental side, with wild guitar run through a wah pedal, brass instruments, and heavy drumming. When that subsides, the instrumentation behind Bixler-Zavala's hectic vocals is deliberately murky, particularly that swampy bass. The refrain is one of the most powerful moments of the album, again with the lead singer pulling notes from the heavens. The last several minutes has The Mars Volta at their most experimental. Wild saxophone plays over various sound effects and noises, while the bassist and drummer keep steady, even as everything else around them disintegrates into avant-garde claptrap. Abruptly, the music becomes cohesive again, and the listener is treated to some excellent organ over the main chords as the duo work over it.

"Asilos Magdalena" Exotic layers of sound and Eastern Mediterranean-like acoustic guitar introduce more Spanish-flavored acoustic guitar (played solo), with Spanish lyrics sung to a lovely melody over it. After a time, a second acoustic guitar joins, and then a third. Manipulations of the sound take over, with electric guitar and all manner of noises poured over the song, eventually washing over it almost completely.

"Viscera Eyes" Electronic percussion and noises akin to an 8-bit video game enter for forty seconds. Then the band bursts in with an upbeat rocker. Again, the lyrics are in Spanish (although not all of them), and the brass plays a more dominant role. I feel this song is largely a dissatisfactory track, as it carries on with no real evolution. The music does essentially change gears for the final three minutes, though (with no real transition to speak of), beginning with a great bass riff over which the other instruments come in to support Rodriguez-Lopez's extended solo. Bixler-Zavala finishes things up with some English lyrics and shrieking during the last minute.

"Day of the Baphomets" For those who thought the little bass bit in the previous song was a tease, Juan Alderte pulls off a full fifty-seconds of rapid and funky bass soloing before a raucous saxophone breaks in. As usual, the lyrics are bizarre and at times evocative of gruesome imagery. A heavily punctuated rhythm is the dominant characteristic of the instrumental middle section, which returns in a starker form near the end. During the second time around, Rodriguez-Lopez delivers a blistering and ear-splitting solo.

"El Ciervo Vulnerado" The final song is dreary and atmospheric, very much as the first one was. It's bland and meandering, and along with "Viscera Eyes," only drags the album down some. There's a lot of directionless passages, and I feel this otherwise phenomenal album would have been better off without this one altogether.

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Amputechture' - The Mars Volta (7.5/10)

The first two records released by The Mars Volta (and their 'Tremulant EP') amazed me and blew me away. Their spacy, improvised and very unique style produced two masterpieces of modern progressive music, 'De-Loused In The Comatorium' and 'Frances The Mute.' While the band's third full-length album 'Amputechture' is excellent and has some really amazing sections in it, it's not quite up to par with the first two (although it's certainly a lot better than the noisy and disappointing 'Bedlam In Goliath.')

'Amputechture' has always seemed to me as being marriage between the two styles found on each of the previous two albums. There is the frantic raw energy found on 'De-Loused In The Comatorium' mixed with the spaciness and constant atmospherics showcased on 'Frances The Mute.' Funny as it may sound for such a 'weird' band such as The Mars Volta, some of the songs on 'Amputechture' actually sound very concisely composed, even if they're pretty long throughout. While attention to some sort of structure is always a good thing, and there are definately parts to remember, with the exception of some of the material, the songs just seem to blend in with themselves, which obviously isn't a good for songs that typically range up to nine minutes.

'Tetragrammaton' is the only song here that really benefits from being long. The other songs could have been honestly just as effective if they had been stripped down.

While 'Amputechture' has the energy/atmosphere combined from the first two albums, while it's still a great album to listen to once in a while, it simply doesn't have enough of those true moments of bliss that I look for in The Mars Volta. That's not to say there aren't any here, but you'll have to fish for them. Four stars.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars After the surprising change in direction on Frances the Mute came an album that showed us a band that tried to get back on the same track they were on during the recording of their debut album. Unfortunately The Mars Volta isn't the same band as the were back in 2002/2003 so the end product resulted for me in another mixed-bag. Some songs are good or even excellent while others are quite forgettable.

This was my last The Mars Volta-album and I haven't really felt tempted to listen to The Bedlam In Goliath or Octahedron due to the mixed reviews those albums have received. Over the years Amputechture has received a lot more of my attention than Frances The Mute but neither of the two releases can match the times that I've listened to De-loused in the Comatorium. I can't really blame the band for pushing their sound in all these new directions which is something I would have liked to see done by most of the giants of prog-rock. My only complaint is that their products are not working for me and that's why I chose to move on and explore other exciting bands.

***** star songs: Day Of The Baphomets (11:56)

**** star songs: Vicarious Atonement (7:19) Vermicide (4:15) Viscera Eyes (9:23)

*** star songs:Tetragrammaton (16:41) Meccamputechture (11:02) Asilos Magdalena (6:34) El Ciervo Vulnerado (8:50)

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Third TMV studio album is quite different from its predecessors. For sure, it still same dready noisy chaotic sound, but ... not so rebelish. I always expect extreme energy from band's early works, it occurs there as well, but on very controlled level. Unusual. All the sound is muddy and a bit polished, what is unusual again. This combination gave a bit strange feeling - it looks that album is too bulky, a bit raw and too extended.

After some repetetive listening, I caught their music deeper there. No, everything is OK, great musicianship, crazy mixes, melodic, even acoustic pieces. In fact - same Mars Volta. But this time all this is placed not on the surface, but under the skin. So, you just must to try harder to understand this album's music. Then you will find everything you expected from true Mars Volta album.

Knowing great band's potential, I evaluate this album still as one of their worst. Not enough concentrated (for 76 min length), a bit too psychedelic, and the sound is only very average. But it doesn't mean that the album is bad. It just not as great as some other their works. Just 3,5, but rounded till 4 ( for one of the greatest heavy prog band of last decade).

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I believe this to be TMV's best album. I think they started to go downhill after this, but went very slowly down that hill. In fact, I think Omar spent so much time making 3.5 billion solo albums in the past 3 years that he forgot TMV even existed. Some, nay, many say Francis was the last good album. Or some will even say De-loused was their only good album. What Amputechture has over Francis is that the ratio of music to sound effects is 95/5, whereas on Francis that ratio is 60/40. In many ways this album is more stereotypical 'prog' than the first two. There is also saxophone on this which adds to the music. I'm not sure why Chili Pepper Frusciante plays on TMV albums, I'm sure Omar could do all the guitar parts himself. Maybe when Frusciante records his parts, Omar sneaks off to make another solo album. I dunno.

The lyrics here are just as nonsensical as you would expect them to be. But honestly, I'd rather listen to: "Glossolalia coats my skin/Glycerin and turbulence/Stuffed the voice of God/Mirrors to the animals" than to somebody preaching to me about how awful the world is. I *know* how awful the world is, that's why I listen to music to get away from it! I actually don't think the vocals of Cedric are quite as annoying here as they are on other TMV albums. A bonus of course. Generally there is so much going on in the mix that it's hard to tell exactly what instruments you are listening too half the time. This could be good or bad but here tends towards the former. "Asilos Magdelena" is a nice acoustic ballad sung in Spanish(are Cedric's Spanish lyrics as crazy as his English ones?), but it starts off with spacy sound effects and ends with weird modified vocals and some not-so-nice electric guitar. So, don't expect this almost lovely song to get played on your local radio station anytime soon.

"Day Of The Baphomets" has some really great bass soloing at the beginning. There is so much going on in this song, it just changes constantly but is never boring. A clear highlight. I might even go so far as to say it's one of my top 3 favourite TMV songs. The album ends on the very anti-climatic "El Ciero Vulnerado" which just ends abruptly. One of the main reasons this won't get 5 stars from me. But at least it's the last song, and this is a long album. So 4 stars it is.

Review by Flucktrot
3 stars Most of us love a challenge, and Mars Volta typically offers at least that.

With Amputechture, I hear an inferior follow-up to Frances the Mute, but still plenty of interesting music. I think the key feature is that with Frances--in particular the epic Cassandra Geminni--Mars Volta were building to something, leading up to anything that would resemble some sort of climax for the chaos leading up to it.

Not so with Amputechture. Good music just happens sporadically, often to be followed by relatively uninteresting material.

Highlights: Meccamputecture, Viscera Eyes, Day of the Baphomets. Fortunately, Mars Volta keep most of their best music--at least to my ears--to these three tracks. The longest, Tetragrammation, has some decent material, but it's largely a mess: superficially creative, but simply alternating between hyperfast playing and ambience. One thing to remember: Cedric's double-octave overdubbing is more annoying than interesting, and Tetragrammation has an awful lot of it, much to its detriment.

Meccamputecture features intense freaking out within the same general rhythm. I think they excel at this--perhaps even Zheul-style--but their short attention spans often prevent them from exploring things in depth. Of course, including the horns always helps to prick up this progger's ears too. With Viscera, again the guys pick up a beat and just kill it--great stuff. Baphomets is a bit different, as it's very schizophrenic, but here the variety works for me (particularly Omar's freakout toward the end), although the aforementioned limitation of not leading to anything spectacular still applies.

So, we have plenty of good prog, and then plenty of average material. Who would expect anything else from the Mars Volta? Make of it what you will, but if you are new to the group, I would start with Frances the Mute and lower your expectations from there.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars I thought this was worth taking a chance on despite the mixed reviews. Besides I knew if I didn't like it my daughter would be happy to take this disc off my hands. For me it doesn't measure up to the first two albums in fact it's not even close.There are two tracks in "Viscera Eyes" and "Day Of The Baphomets" that really blew me away, and if the rest of the album was even close to sounding like these tracks i'd be praising this to no end. Others have explained the differences between this record and the previous two but for me the bottom line is that this one lacks the insanity, those exaggerated mood swings if you will.The opening and closing tracks are similar in that there isn't much in the way of dynamics making them both long listens.

"Tetragrammaton" is the longest tune and they do contrast the more laid back sections with the more intense sections throughout but it's almost too predictable. I do like the guitar before 8 minutes and the floating organ before 13 minutes though. "Vermicide" just doesn't do anything for me and i'm surprised at how mellow "Asilos Magdalina" is. Again those two tracks I like are killer (love the horns) and I hit the repeat button on those two but overall I can't give this more than 3 stars.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A huge disappointment following the masterful Frances the Mute, Amputechture is a loud, bombastic mess. Often the tracks are headache inducing, the vocals blare, the bass is merciless and the guitar chords are chaotic jazz at its worst. Many tracks needed to be discarded to trim down the enormous running time of 76 minutes, however some tracks redeem the album from a total waste.

Tetragrammaton is definitely the highlight for me clocking some 17 minutes and it features lengthy jamming with Omar A Rodriguez-Lopez's guitar and wild percussive metrical shapes from Jon Theodore. The Latin rhythms are everpresent and the non sensical banter of Cedric Bixler Zavala, but it hangs together with excellent time sig shifts and breaks. The skull crunching brass permeates through Isaiah Ikey Owens keyboards.

Viscera Eyes is certainly one of the Mars Volta's best compositions, with memorable melodies and aggressive blasts of acid fuelled psyche prog. Latinese embellishments are present in the lyrics and musical style, and it works very well to drive the song onwards.

Day of the Baphomets is a mini epic at about 12 minutes in length and is one I return to with wonderful twists and turns and some sultry Latin rhythms. Juan Alderte's bass is a key feature and in fact he solos in a wonderful detour from all the loud guitar noise. Lurking slices of saxophone break through and cap this off as one of the best from the band in their illustriuos career.

Overall, the highlights are weighed down by some genuine filler material and it appears as though the band were attempting to fill an entire CD. They do just that but it is difficult to sit through all this raucous mayhem. Perhaps in 2 sittings the album works better as I was shocked at how ordinary sections of this album are, even non-prog commercial radio-friendly at times, but the band refuse to conform to any particular genre, accepting a myriad of genres in their music, making this a very challenging and frustrating album. 3 stars is a reasonable rating for the aforementioned tracks.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars The third full album by Mars Volta is a very dense album, hard to penetrate because of the extreme amount of music going on throughout most of the release. The lyrics are very cryptic, the vocals are somewhat extreme and the music is complicated, dissonant at times with melodies playing against each other and a lot of experimental and improvised solos, sometimes played at the same time. But with some time and patience, your brain will start to make sense out of all of it.

The closest comparison I can think of that many will be familiar with would be 'Tales from Topographic Oceans' by 'Yes' which is also their hardest album to access. A lot of this is for the same reason. On both this album and Yes's album, you won't really understand everything, because there is so much going on. Dividing the songs up into subparts, like Yes did on 'Close to the Edge' makes it easier, but on ''Oceans' they don't do this, so you just have to sort it out yourself. The same is true with 'Amputechture'. One advantage here though, is that there are a few shorter tracks which are a little more straightforward, even though they can also be quite involved. I found the best way to approach this album by Mars Volta is to find a lyrics site and try to follow them. This gives some insight to the music and will help you in dividing the longer songs into subsections.

After the first few listens, I thought I would never understand this album, but soon I noticing returning themes in the vocals and the music. Also, reading the lyrics will help you locate the returning themes thus helping you analyze what you are listening to. This album's main theme is how religions can affect society, mostly in negative ways. Knowing that is a good start.

The first track 'Vicarious Atonement' is a good start to the album in that you get a good sense of how the rest of the album will be sounding, but it doesn't have the multilayerd wall of noise that you will get later. The song is more mid tempo which also helps. You will notice that the lyrics are hard to understand, but knowing the theme of the album will help shed some light. Next up is the 16 minute epic track 'Tetragrammation'. The music in this track is quite dense and without any help, can make you think that you will never understand it. The song is full of rhythm changes, hard to follow melodies, impossible to understand lyrics, and counterpoint solos going on among the instruments during the many instrumental breaks. The subject of the song is the torture and exorcism of a Romanian woman who was thought by a small congregation to be possessed by a demon, when in reality she was mentally ill. The congregation tied her to a cross and left her overnight with the parish leader thinking this would exorcise the demon. In the morning, she was found dead. The lyrics in this one were made up on the spot and not read from a pre-written lyric sheet. The band wanted the feeling of the vocals being similar to 'speaking in tongues' as this mentally ill woman was doing during her torture, which explain the tone of the lyrics and the way they don't make a lot of sense toward the middle of the song. There is also sections of the vocals that are treated to give the singing a 'possessed feeling'. Of course you get a lot of excellent performances from the other members of the band, plus a lot of rapid fire drumming. There are quieter breaks throughout the song, many of them sudden and unexpected. This song is an absolute masterpiece of progressive music.

After this often chaotic track comes a more accessible one called 'Vermicide'. This one to me is the weakest on the album, but it gives a short reprieve to the heaviness of the two long tracks that come before and after it. 'Meccamputechture' comes next and runs for over 11 minutes. This one deals with the use of saints or holy figures as pieces of jewelry or on clothing items, or in other words what is known as Iconography, using 'humans as ornaments'. Again this one is quite dense, but is built similar to the 2nd track with many passages with a lot of things going on all at once and other quieter passages. But I find this one is a little easier to follow as far as where the subsections are. There are once again sudden changes in mood and style with hardly even a breath or a pause between them.

'Asilos Magdalena' is completely sung in Spanish and accompanied mostly by a Spanish sounding guitar, but with non- traditional melodies. It's not until 4 ' minutes in before this changes and things seem to get more chaotic towards the end. The translation to English reveals that the lyrics are still quite hard to understand. The subject of this song is about the Roman Catholic asylums that were created to rehabilitate fallen women. 'Viscera Eyes' contains both Spanish and English lyrics, both equally confusing, but well sung regardless. This one is actually based off of a repeating riff in the percussion and bass section, so it seems more structured, but the other instrumentation over the top of this repetition is still complex as well as the vocal parts. This repeating base changes after more than halfway through to another riff which then repeats to the end with all the complexity going on around it.

After this, we return to form with 'Day of the Baphomets' which is about a group of cult members invading the homes of Christians with the hope of getting them to realize their way of life is wrong. The methods they use are strange which includes stealing their items and kidnapping their children. I told you this was the dark side of religion. The same style is used on this as on the other tracks over 10 minutes on this album, excellent progressive styles with what seems to be everyone soloing at once. You also get a sax added in to the mix. Very nice sounds and textures are used throughout this track. Last of all is a very slow and more ambient style track called 'El Ciervo Vulnerado' which means 'The Wounded Shepherd'. Even though the title is in Spanish, the lyrics are all in English. This is a very dark sounding, brooding track. It deals with how religion can get into your mind and how hard it is to completely lose it later. It also deals with the second coming and how the narrator is not going to be saved.

All through this album you get sudden solos, sometimes played at the same time and other times on their own, this also includes some percussive solos. There are some interesting sounds played on the instruments along with more traditional styles and some of the vocals are treated and some are not. I can pretty much guarantee most people will not get this album on the first sitting and probably not even on the tenth listening, but if you give it time and patience, you will get it. This is also how I felt with 'Tales from .Topographic Oceans' (and, by the way, with 'Relayer' also by 'Yes',which is why I make the comparison at the beginning of this review. Eventually, I understood that album and I grew to really love it. This also applies to this album. I also understand that many people might not want to take the time to understand this music, and maybe won't even like it once they do start to understand it. That's okay. But I can tell you, that I love this album and consider it a masterpiece, even through it's chaos and thickness, but it took some time to get to that point. I have to give this 5 stars, because it is quite a groundbreaking album, and for this to be as inaccessible as it is, it's quite amazing that The Mars Volta has got such a large fan base. That is a huge feat in and of itself.

Review by Kempokid
5 stars The Mars Volta's Amputechture takes all of the more bizarre, experimental elements from the previous two album, Deloused in the Comatorium and Frances the Mute, and has them take centre stage as the main attraction while also ditching the concept album formula in favour of crafting a group of tightly written songs. Each song has different qualities to it that make it unique, and while the seemingly intentional overblown, chaotic and dissonant nature of the album will scare some people off, I personally find this to be the crowning achievement of the band. Despite essentially throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks, this kitchen sink approach to songwriting has worked surprisingly well in the favour of the band, creating diverse music that ranges from atmospheric jams, jazz, and even occasionally some world music thrown in, along with many other interesting moments with very little filler.

Vicarious Atonement starts things off slowly, with incredible atmosphere and great guitar work, with Cedric's vocals further accentuating the somewhat creepy, yet also despondent tone. This is a slow burner for sure, with a lot of use of space and ambience within the track, perfectly setting the listener up for the aural bombardment that is Tetragrammaton. The moment this song kicks in, the familiarity to previous works is somewhat found, with the standard sort of chaotic instrumentation that is a staple of the band. This is my second Mars Volta song for sure, managing to create a 16 minute song without a single second of filler, with the semi spoken word section bridging into the next two verses to be one of my favourite musical moments, constantly escalating while creating an extremely fun groove, all exploding into a near cacophonous chorus. The next noteworthy track is Meccamputechture, which acts as the centrepiece to the album in more ways than just placement, as it perfectly incorporates elements from other songs on the album, predominantly the riff from Tetragrammaton and some bongos that will be later used in Day of the Baphomets. Along with this, the saxophone on this track is simply amazing, along with the intro and outro both being absolutely top notch as well, especially the borderline acapella in the intro. The final incredibly noteworthy song is Day of the Baphomets, which is not only my favourite Mars Volta song, but my favourite song of all time, with a perfect blend of technicality with tone and even being fun in the process. The intro comes in and instantly feels like some sort of twisted, tribal chant, before leading in to some harrowing vocal work, causing the song to have a tone not too unlike a panic attack of sorts. This pace continues throughout the the entirety of the song, all climaxing in one of the most off kilter percussion solos I've heard.

The song VIscera Eyes, Vermicide and Asilos Magdalena are all incredibly good songs and act as breaks between the 3 massive epics, with Vermicide being a fairly straightforward song with a good chorus and good use of distortion and Asilos Magdalena being sung entirely in Spanish and being the most pleasant moment on the album, to the point of being downright relaxing, even if in typical TMV fashion, it slowly descends further and further into madness, until it essentially becomes noise. Viscera Eyes, while being a long song, is also a surprisingly straightforward one, having an extremely defined, groovy riff backed up with an extremely tasteful brass section, making for a song that is't all that difficult to listen to while still being adequately interesting, especially once the change of pace occurs.

The single weaker moment on this album comes from the final song, El Ciervo Vulerado, which while quite psychedelic and atmospheric in nature, is also somewhat drawn out and ends in an unsatisfying manner. Despite this, I still feel as if it is an all around decent song that simply doesn't live up to the soaring heights of anything else from TMV's first three albums.

While this album took quite a while to grow on me due to the extremely abrasive nature that it could have at times along with the general insanity presented, once it did grow, it became my favourite thing this band has ever done, with 3 epics that all represent the Mars Volta at their peak of songwriting, along with many other songs that can also stand very strongly. Cedric's vocals here are even more high pitched and absurd than before, with a falsetto that can be described in no other way than ridiculous. The instrumentation, particularly Jon Theodore's drumming is incredible here as well, with very little time spent doing pointless stuff for the sake of complexity, as each section of a song feels like it is an integral part of it. What really sets this album apart for me however, is the sense of fun that it has while still maintaining a mostly serious, occasionally terrifying tone, creating a difficult, yet highly enjoyable listen.

Best Tracks - Tetragrammaton, Day of the Baphomets, Meccamputechture

Weakest Tracks - El Ciervo Vulnerado

Review by Dapper~Blueberries
4 stars If there is one album that has been a big grower for me, it has to be Amputechture by The Mars Volta. I started listening to The Mars Volta in late 2021 when I was making my exploration through progressive rock. Back then, this, and Deloused were my least favorite albums from the band. Deloused because I wasn't quite prepared for the overdriven storm that album included, and Amputechture because I just really did not like how experimental it is. I have changed since then, and now I see both to be some of The Mars Volta's best works of art, though as of late I might prefer Amputechture slightly more than Deloused, being only slightly behind Frances and Bedlam.

I think the best way to describe this album is if you took the very avant prog qualities of Frances The Mute and the more Latino rock qualities the band has shown since their debut EP, mash them together, add a tiny bit of third incarnation King Crimson sensibilities, and spice it up with moments that feel truly epic. This album is a mix grab bag of frantic jams that are very poignant in psychedelia, to more tranquil ambient moments, to stuff that feels almost right out of Omar's and Cedric's old band of At The Drive-In with more post-hardcore qualities. I think this is some really excellent combination of songs and sounds on here, with each song really diving deep into the progressive rock territories. In fact the first two songs of Vicarious Atonement and Tetragrammaton perfectly encapsulates the qualities this album exudes for me. Vicarious Atonement is this very misty, guitar-driven ambience track that leans itself as this very interesting beginning, not starting with this big and bombastic opener like the last two albums did, but instead leveling out to act as a calm to the storm that is Tetragrammaton, which I think works out nicely. Speaking of which, Tetragrammaton is very close to being my all time favorite Mars Volta track. This 16 minute epic winds through movements that are both odd, cryptic, ominous, but also filled with a certain energy that cannot be described. It truly is one of the best prog rock epics in my mind, and the fact the band hasn't made anything else like this shows that they are truly varied in their visions.

The strongest element for me is Omar's guitar. I think his guitar work on the last two Mars Volta albums were fantastic, with Frances being his peak of sorts in my opinion, but Amputechture does show how brilliant he can work the guitar in odd ways that rival Frank Zappa and Robert Fripp. His virtuosity here is unmatched, and the fact he seems to make these technical, almost math rock bendings and tones sound so effortless is a testament to his skills. I think, though, Jon Theodore comes very close to matching the same eccentricities Omar creates with his drummings. Both are very amazing musicians who should definitely be respected in both prog rock, and general music history.

I have said that this album was a big grower for me, and I think that, sadly, has to do with the fact that not every song on here is a homestar runner. If you much prefer the more frantic and intense songs Mars Volta creates, or you just find more ambient music quite boring like how I thought back then, you might not quite enjoy this album. Some songs on here have moments that are very tranquil and ambient, with even some songs just being purely that, like Vicarious Atonement or El Ciervo Vulnerado. These moments, admittedly, are still not my favorite, though I have really warmed up to them. I guess you have to hop into it not expecting a Deloused or Bedlam, but more of a Frances, being a lot more experimental and droning in places.

This album is one that I now really love. It has a ton of awesome moments of prog rock and Latino rock elements that are as high quality as you might expect from a band like The Mars Volta. It might have some moments that are quite underwhelming, but the low points on this album do not outweigh the amount of high points that are featured here. It is an excellent treat of progressive rock music that I think anyone should look into if they are willing to partake in the challenge.

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5 stars Ok, so I've been going back and forth between 4 or 5 stars, but I'll settle on 5 to balance out some of the negative reviews on this triumph of album. I thought this was a really compelling release. Vicarious Atonement is a slow burn that sets the table perfectly, with its ominous soundscape, sea ... (read more)

Report this review (#1824407) | Posted by thesameoldfears | Saturday, November 18, 2017 | Review Permanlink

2 stars The Mars Volta. What a strange and unique band! How I wish they would reform, and share more delights with us after a string of fantastic albums, culminating in the magnificent Noctourniquet. Today however, I tried for the hundredth time to sit through Amputechture. This album starts well, but ... (read more)

Report this review (#1421231) | Posted by Kevman28 | Friday, May 29, 2015 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Not quite as consistantly good as De-Loused, but still darn good! This was my first exposure to The Mars Volta, and it totally blew me away. There are some awesome prog tunes here: Tetragrammaton, Meccamputecture, and my favorite, the intense and wild ride of Day of the Baphomets. I never get ... (read more)

Report this review (#637086) | Posted by mohaveman | Tuesday, February 21, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 9/10 The autistic child. This is The Mars Volta at its best. It's as if they had joined the two better than his previous albums (for which I have mixed feelings) offered and create a superior album, but incredibly underrated. And I wonder: Why? There's nothing here that has not been seen b ... (read more)

Report this review (#561454) | Posted by voliveira | Wednesday, November 2, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars 20 minutes less and it could be perfect Introduction Mars Volta's third work comes out from the long and controversial Frances the Mute, as the previous works the album is a concept one and this time TMV talk about the differences between faith and church: almost all tracks' name have refere ... (read more)

Report this review (#459358) | Posted by Erik Nymas | Sunday, June 12, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Amputechture ? 2006 10 ? Best Song: Mecchamputechture Omar and his friends are a pretty sharp band of fellows. They usually have some heady themes, like with this Amputechture, where the (accepted) title track is a portmanteau of Mecca, Amputate, Technology, and Architecture, which is real ... (read more)

Report this review (#459129) | Posted by Alitare | Saturday, June 11, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Alot of people don't like this album, and I can see why, but I love it. The guys in the band even consider as their "autistic child" which I thought was a wee bit harsh, but does make alot of sense, because their are moments that are evry different and almost sound random, but to me it doesn't, ... (read more)

Report this review (#289515) | Posted by arcane-beautiful | Wednesday, July 7, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The Mars Volta's third album was somewhat of a departure from the first two, more slow burning and considered, less crazy and on the whole very pleasant to listen to, while still being able to rock when necessary. The band toned down the unusual samples, slowed down the drum rolls and produced the ... (read more)

Report this review (#278836) | Posted by Gentlegiantprog | Wednesday, April 21, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Keep on moving! I cant barely notice anything in this album that makes it inferior to its two antecessors De Loused and Frances. Amputechture is still a 5 stars albums for several reasons: very creative melodies, astonishing guitars and soundscapes, nice drumming and vocals, there is no weake ... (read more)

Report this review (#263522) | Posted by zedumar | Saturday, January 30, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Only one year after Frances The Mute, the Mars Volta, maybe a little looser for not writing a concept album, and not having to create a story during the album, do again a powerful and chaotic record, with incredible musicianship and vocals. As usual, the album starts slow, Vicarious Atonement i ... (read more)

Report this review (#208685) | Posted by JTP88 | Wednesday, March 25, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars For my first review I chose an album often scorned by fans of the band. Amputechture is the third studio album by The Mars Volta, following a solid and gripping debut (De-loused), and their masterpiece second effort (Frances). Third time was not the charm for many Volta fans, but it was for ... (read more)

Report this review (#197378) | Posted by Sgt. Smiles | Monday, January 5, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I know that many Mars Volta fans were disappointed with this album. While I do not think it is as great as Frances the Mute or De-loused, which I believe to be some of the best music I've ever heard, I still enjoy listening to this album. Vicarious Atonement is really trippy. The climax where ... (read more)

Report this review (#192249) | Posted by evantate09 | Sunday, December 7, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#170907) | Posted by Figglesnout | Tuesday, May 13, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars As a recent fan of The Mars Volta, I've gone on a frenzy of picking up all four of their current studio albums. I picked up Amputechture last, simply because I'd heard from many sources that it simply wasn't as good as the other three releases. While De-loused is an accesible classic, and Fra ... (read more)

Report this review (#164890) | Posted by Viewtifulzfo | Tuesday, March 25, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Rating: C The Mars Volta's third release, Amputechture, is rightfully polarizing. After all, about 2/3 of the CD is really good, among the best the Mars Volta has done, and the rest is boring tripe. I'll get the bad out of the way first so that I can focus on the good, since the good truly is ... (read more)

Report this review (#162505) | Posted by Pnoom! | Saturday, February 23, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I don't understand the dismisal of this album. This is definitely their best effort yet. I can only imagine those claiming to have given this album ampt listenings need to listen again. Like all great prog albums, those that move us most, we all know require the most work. This album is one of ... (read more)

Report this review (#160171) | Posted by catdog12 | Tuesday, January 29, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Amputechture combines experimentality with good, solid composing and incredible performances. It can come across as bleak, strange, uncomfortable--but overall, it has it's own unique identity, and will pull you in after you familiarize yourself with it. The performances of this album pack an u ... (read more)

Report this review (#152944) | Posted by jmcdaniel_ee | Tuesday, November 27, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The third Mars Volta LP Amputechture is another good album from this creative/unique art rock band. The album has way less ambiance than like Frances the Mute or Deloused. And sometimes this album kind of reminds me of Yes or King Crimson sometimes. The musicianship on this album though is one of ... (read more)

Report this review (#152316) | Posted by JROCHA | Thursday, November 22, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Incredible release. The intro from the first song is memorable(somehow similar with Supertramp's Crime of the Century or Return to Forever - Return to forever). Such a song might hunt you many days. One of the best efforts from the last years. It may be hard to get into but definitely will became ... (read more)

Report this review (#151212) | Posted by petrica | Friday, November 16, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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