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The Bedlam in Goliath


stevGNR666

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Okay, so it's been a day since they officially released this, finally, after months of leaks and tour bootlegs and rumors and interviews and all the hooplah that surround a new record. The dusts have cleared and here I am to review the album after listening to it about five times in the past day, going to see them on tour, and joining their largest forum (the comatorium). Personally, I've been a fan at the outset of their release of Amputechture two years ago (the first album I bought by them) but in the last month or two I've been rather obsessive and trying to stay objective about their prog-rockish indulgences in preparation for this year's release and tour. Overall I've not been let down, for the most part.

So, how to review a Mars Volta album? It's like how to review pornography with a hundred different people fucking in the camera at one time. Okay, it's not exactly like that...but anyways, I will try my best.

Being a fan of the band for a time my expectations have been molded towards excessive song lengths (see: Cassandra), Pop Sensibility (see: The Widow, Vermicide, Roulettes Dare), eclecticism in grooves, (See: Day of the Basphomets, Drunken Lanterns), Acoustic Gems (Miranda, Asilios, Televators, The Widow), not to mention tripped out disjointed lyrics, tripped out cerebral jams, complexed winding time signatures, dreary conceptualized stories on death and the hypocrisies of religion, and tons of multi-lingual falsetto a la Cedric - so the question remains: how does The Bedlam hold up to the standards of the former albums?

In short, it is what the band has been working towards and more - with a couple missteps along the way (it's not the perfect album) but it is the best hard rock album I've heard in years.

First, how is the music? The music is groovier then any album the mars volta has made since deloused - it is also the heaviest and most densely packed album they've made since deloused...with no song going over the 10 minute mark the tracks are chock full of classic rock riffs (Goliath = 21st Century Schizoid Man? Conjugal Burns = early Black Sabbath?) Latin jazz ostinatos next to epic rock riffs for a weird marriage that somehow works without feeling forced (Ouroboros), Groovy funk rock (Ileya), and eclecticism conjuring up images of middle eastern world music (Soothsayer). Somehow, in Soothsayer Omar throws the most climactic guitar solo in there for good measure which kept me ecstatic but as a fan of world music my purist side felt twinged but I do appreciate that was obviously the most experimental track. Starting off with a bang (Aberinkula) the music is immediate and in your face which continues through the album.

Unfortunately, one part of every album that I enjoyed listening to was missing and that was the acoustic gem ballad which was strangely absent and instead replaced by a nu-metal ballad in the style of tool and staind with a mars volta freak out quality tacked in (Tourniquet Man) which I'm cool with - but I'm still sorely missing Omar and his sexy acoustic chops. Oh well, can't win em all.

The other question on every Mars Volta's fan's mind is how does this new drummer guy Thomas Pridgen hold up with the loss of Jon Theodore and on this I'm going to take the high ground when I say that I like both of them although having seen Thomas live - I have to admit that I was extremely impressed by his abilities and the album changes this. In fact - I have never heard a drummer climax better on record or live.

Although I felt the music was strong with strains of pop sensibilities and funk grooves, I felt the strongest point of the album was the flow - the ability to keep the listener in stitches for a full 75 minutes using all songs for a purpose in the album to make it cohesive - perhaps the biggest pitfall of Amputechture. Watch the cohesion between the first side, the cohesion between Aberinkula and Metatron running into Ilyea, running into the behemoth twosome of Wax Simulacra and Goliath, to chilled Tourniquet Man which is the band taking a breath it's almost fluid and before you know it, the first side is done. The second side is far more dense and harder to comprehend with immediacy but, as with every mars volta album, comprehension is not so immediate and time with factor into it. One thing is true though, that they didn't make the same mistake as Amputechture and chill the last track choosing to end on a climax.

Anyways, I would highly recommend this album interested in experiential cerebral journeys into the inner depths of hell and out again of freak out prog rock - for more info on the story, check out the bands website.

9/10

Edited by stevGNR666
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Okay, so it's been a day since they officially released this, finally, after months of leaks and tour bootlegs and rumors and interviews and all the hooplah that surround a new record. The dust has cleared and here I am to review the album after listening to it about five times in the past day, going to see them on tour, and joining their largest forum (the comatorium). Personally, I've been a fan at the outset of their release of Amputechture two years ago (the first album I bought by them) but in the last month or two I've been rather obsessive and trying to stay objective about their prog-rockish indulgences in preparation for this year's release and tour. Overall I've not been let down, for the most part.

So, how to review a Mars Volta album? It's like how to review pornography with a hundred different people fucking in the camera at one time. Okay, it's not exactly like that...but anyways, I will try my best.

Being a fan of the band for a time my expectations have been molded towards excessive song lengths (see: Cassandra), Pop Sensibility (see: The Widow, Vermicide, Roulettes Dare), eclecticism in grooves, (See: Day of the Basphomets, Drunken Lanterns), Acoustic Gems (Miranda, Asilios, Televators, The Widow), not to mention tripped out disjointed lyrics, tripped out cerebral jams, complexed winding time signatures, dreary conceptualized stories on death and the hypocrisies of religion, and tons of multi-lingual falsetto a la Cedric - so the question remains: how does The Bedlam hold up to the standards of the former albums?

In short, it is what the band has been working towards and more - with a couple missteps along the way (it's not the perfect album) but it is the best hard rock album I've heard in years.

First, how is the music? The music is groovier then any album the mars volta has made since deloused - it is also the heaviest and most densely packed album they've made since deloused...with no song going over the 10 minute mark the tracks are chock full of classic rock riffs (Goliath = 21st Century Schizoid Man? Conjugal Burns = early Black Sabbath?) Latin jazz ostinatos next to epic rock riffs for a weird marriage that somehow works without feeling forced (Ouroboros), Groovy funk rock (Ileya), and eclecticism conjuring up images of middle eastern world music (Soothsayer). Somehow, in Soothsayer Omar throws the most climactic guitar solo in there for good measure which kept me ecstatic but as a fan of world music my purist side felt twinged but I do appreciate that was obviously the most experimental track. Starting off with a bang (Aberinkula) the music is immediate and in your face which continues through the album.

Unfortunately, one part of every album that I enjoyed listening to was missing and that was the acoustic gem ballad which was strangely absent and instead replaced by a nu-metal ballad in the style of tool and staind with a mars volta freak out quality tacked in (Tourniquet Man) which I'm cool with - but I'm still sorely missing Omar and his sexy acoustic chops. Oh well, can't win em all.

The other question on every Mars Volta's fan's mind is how does this new drummer guy Thomas Pridgen hold up with the loss of Jon Theodore and on this I'm going to take the high ground when I say that I like both of them although having seen Thomas live - I have to admit that I was extremely impressed by his abilities and the album changes this. In fact - I have never heard a drummer climax better on record or live.

Although I felt the music was strong with strains of pop sensibilities and funk grooves, I felt the strongest point of the album was the flow - the ability to keep the listener in stitches for a full 75 minutes using all songs for a purpose in the album to make it cohesive - perhaps the biggest pitfall of Amputechture. Watch the cohesion between the first side, the cohesion between Aberinkula and Metatron running into Ilyea, running into the behemoth twosome of Wax Simulacra and Goliath, to chilled Tourniquet Man which is the band taking a breath it's almost fluid and before you know it, the first side is done. The second side is far more dense and harder to comprehend with immediacy but, as with every mars volta album, comprehension is not so immediate and time with factor into it. One thing is true though, that they didn't make the same mistake as Amputechture and chill the last track choosing to end on a climax.

Anyways, I would highly recommend this album interested in experiential cerebral journeys into the inner depths of hell and out again of freak out prog rock - for more info on the story, check out the bands website.

9/10

It's a brilliant album-their best in my opinion-and a very well-written review.

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thanks bax

sure I could have just said that wild child but I took the critical route

my least favorite song at the present time (is there a present time?) is Cavalettas - it just falls flat to me and too long and repetitious

my most favorite song is Ouroborous a perfect combo of metal riffage and latin ostinato. i really don't know how they can take the two and make something so fucking good? okay maybe goliath- it gets me fucking pumped every time I listen...

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