The Mars Volta
26 March 2012
by Dan Pelic
It’s not as if the point of a record review is ever to exact a reaction out of the artist itself, but this review would probably make Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala a happy couple. Why? Because this record from The Mars Volta is such an utter disappointment – which is what they accepted it might be, because they are true artistes who do it for the art, right maaaan?
This is probably the calmest cacophony of sound the Volta have ever produced. Surely, one could never expect such a talented group of musicians to re-write De-Loused in the Comatorium, Frances the Mute, or even the band’s last cling to some sort of sensible digestibility, Amputechture, again and again. But really, this sounds a bit slapped together.
If you were a fan of the YouTube viral “[Insert band name here] Shreds” videos, you will find the opening tracks ‘The Whip Hand’ and ‘Aegis’ to resemble the sound tracks of those clips – only…they’re the actual songs being performed on an album being released all over the world…on purpose.
The intense and driving drumming of the revolving door of percussionists enlisted by The Mars Volta have always been something of a favorite among their fans, but you can throw that loveable aspect in the rubbish bin, because you will not find it on Noctourniquet. It’s almost as if the drummer, Deantoni Parks, was unable to hear the song he was to keep the beat to – or wait, was Rodriguez-Lopez just redoing something had done previously? He did just that while producing 2009’s Octahedron. Sadly, Parks’ talent and assumed hope to drive this group’s music was wasted, as he jazz-brushes about the drum kit nonsensically for the majority of the album.
Listen to ‘The Malkin Jewel’ by The Mars Volta:
The few saving graces of this album include some sensical and beautiful (believe it or not) lyricism from Mr. Bixler on tracks, ‘The Malkin Jewel’ and ‘Dyslexicon’, as well as a quality ballad in ‘Empty Vessels Make The Loudest Sound’. Mind you, these tracks are all on the first half of the record. It is increasingly taxing to stay focused thereon and easily forgettable.
This album just serves as a disappointment to any older fan of the band, and a jazzy anticlimax for someone looking to get into them from this record forward.
Sounds Like: Calm, Cacophonous Crud
Standout Tracks: Dyslexicon, The Malkin Jewel, Empty Vessels Make The Loudest Sound