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-   -   The Mars Volta -- The Bedlam in Goliath (http://www.metalsetlists.com/showthread.php?t=7820)

DethMaiden 02-09-2008 05:20 PM

The Mars Volta -- The Bedlam in Goliath
 
[IMG]http://www.progarchives.com/Progressive_rock_discography_includes/thumbnail.asp?FileName=c:\inetpub\wwwroot\www.progarchives.com\progressive_rock_discography_covers\1033/cover_840202112008.jpg&size=250[/IMG]

As of 2005's brilliant [I]Frances the Mute[/I], The Mars Volta appeared to be the shining light in progressive rock and the band capable of carrying the torch deep into the new millenium. That was then, and this is now.

Unfortunately, [I]The Bedlam in Goliath[/I], much like last year's [I]Systematic Chaos [/I]by Dream Theater, is everything wrong with progressive music. The songs (if you can call the tracks on here songs) are prog- for-the-sake-of-prog exercises in self-indulgence that are more concerned with vocal and guitar pyrotechnics than creating memorable pieces of music. While [I]Frances the Mute [/I]showed the myriad of influences the Mars Volta draw from, [I]The Bedlam in Goliath [/I]serves only to show that they have loads of talent but seem to have forgotten how to use it.

From overambitious opening number "Aberinkula" through overdramatic album closer "Conjugal Burns", damn near everything on this album feels forced. There are moments of brilliance on just about every song, but they are so mired in the off-kilter time signatures and indecipherable shrieks of voice and instrument alike that you're unwilling to listen through the crap to find them. Unusual instruments are used completely annoyingly and are totally forced, whereas in the past TMV had a use for every second of time they occupied with their sound.

Maybe the saddest part of this album is the drastic decline in Cedric Bixler-Zavala's vocals. In the past he could channel equal parts soulful and frantic, but now he seems exclusively concerned with proving what high notes he can hit, and how well he knows how to use his effects processor. Alas, gone is the beauty of "The Widow" and the controlled chaos of "L'via L'viaquez", replaced with a dog-whistle singing deliberately obtuse lyrics. And if you liked the Mars Volta's flirtation with Latin-flavored music, both in their Santana-esque interludes and Spanish lyrics, kiss that goodbye as well.

It is a sad day when one of the finest bands in prog puts out a piece of overly technical tripe with virtually no replay value, but I have to be honest in my reviews, and honesty requires me to recommend this album only to collectors and fans. Even then, meh. This will probably turn out to be my biggest disappointment of the year.

powerslave_85 02-09-2008 05:32 PM

[QUOTE=DethMaiden;179306]deliberately obtuse lyrics[/QUOTE]This is one of the many things that keep me from getting into this band. NONE OF THEIR LYRICS MAKE A SHRED OF GODDAMNED SENSE. I don't mind when lyrics are a little abstract or bizarre, but these guys take it to a whole other level of incomprehensible bullshit. “The kiosk in my temporal lobe is shaped like Rosalynn Carter.” THAT DOESN'T FUCKING MEAN ANYTHING!!!

zgodt 02-10-2008 07:46 AM

Are you unfamiliar with [I]Amputechture[/I]? It seems weird to contrast this album with [I]Frances the Mute[/I] while ignoring the album they put out in between.

[I]Amputechture [/I]is pretty great, if you skip the first and last songs.

I've only heard "Wax Simulacra" so far from the new one, but I thought it kicked ass.

DethMaiden 02-10-2008 11:10 AM

[QUOTE=zgodt;179347]Are you unfamiliar with [I]Amputechture[/I]? It seems weird to contrast this album with [I]Frances the Mute[/I] while ignoring the album they put out in between.

[I]Amputechture [/I]is pretty great, if you skip the first and last songs.

I've only heard "Wax Simulacra" so far from the new one, but I thought it kicked ass.[/QUOTE]

I've heard Amputechture, but am admittedly not as familiar with it as Frances the Mute. It's fair to say that it's an intermediate step between the styles I hear on Frances and Bedlam though.

And yeah, Wax Simulacra is one of the couple highlights on the album.

zgodt 02-12-2008 09:34 AM

"The songs (if you can call the tracks on here songs) are prog- for-the-sake-of-prog exercises in self-indulgence that are more concerned with vocal and guitar pyrotechnics than creating memorable pieces of music."

If that doesn't describe "Cassandra Gemini" from [I]Frances the Mute[/I], then I don't know what does.

Now listening to "Metatron" off the new album. I have to say, I think it's really fucking good, and a lot less obtuse-sounding than most of [I]Frances the Mute[/I], which to me is the Mars Volta at their [I]most [/I]over-indulgent.

But hey... to each his own.

DethMaiden 02-12-2008 09:36 AM

[QUOTE=zgodt;179418]"The songs (if you can call the tracks on here songs) are prog- for-the-sake-of-prog exercises in self-indulgence that are more concerned with vocal and guitar pyrotechnics than creating memorable pieces of music."

If that doesn't describe "Cassandra Gemini" from [I]Frances the Mute[/I], then I don't know what does.

Now listening to "Metatron" off the new album. I have to say, I think it's really fucking good, and a lot less obtuse-sounding than most of [I]Frances the Mute[/I], which to me is the Mars Volta at their [I]most [/I]over-indulgent.

But hey... to each his own.[/QUOTE]

:eyes:

I feel the opposite.

zgodt 02-12-2008 09:38 AM

[QUOTE=DethMaiden;179419]:eyes:

I feel the opposite.[/QUOTE]

You don't think the 4 minute stretches of ambient noise all over [I]Frances the Mute[/I] are a little... excessive?

Or that one 35 minute song with 0 tempo changes and 0 key changes is a little... preposterous?

DethMaiden 02-12-2008 09:39 AM

[QUOTE=zgodt;179421]You don't think the 4 minute stretches of ambient noise all over [I]Frances the Mute[/I] are a little... excessive?

Or that one 35 minute song with 0 tempo changes and 0 key changes is a little... preposterous?[/QUOTE]

I like ambient music.

And I really like Cassandra Gemini because it reminds me of Echoes.

zgodt 02-12-2008 12:50 PM

[QUOTE=DethMaiden;179422]I like ambient music.

And I really like Cassandra Gemini because it reminds me of Echoes.[/QUOTE]

Well, okay, more power to you... but do you see my point? It's hard to argue they've gotten [I]more [/I]"prog-for-prog's-sake" since FTM...

DethMaiden 02-12-2008 03:58 PM

[QUOTE=zgodt;179425]Well, okay, more power to you... but do you see my point? It's hard to argue they've gotten [I]more [/I]"prog-for-prog's-sake" since FTM...[/QUOTE]

Well I liked that the FTM songs have breathing room, whereas the entirety of Bedlam feels downright claustrophobic, like if they snuck one more riff in the album would explode.


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