The Mars Volta – Octahedron


Album

Octahedron

Label

Warner Bros.

Year

2009

For Fans Of

3 – At the Drive In - Yes

Summary

An exercise in experimentation.

Rating

75 / 100

One could easily be forgiven for thinking the Mars Volta was originally nothing more than the vanity project of ex-At the Drive In members Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez- Lopez. However, five albums down these sentiments seem misleading at best. The Grammy award winning Texan seven-piece have constructed and merged elements of prog-rock, experimental dirges and jazz fusion into the musical hybrid that is today the Mars Volta.
 
The band make good on their promises of delivering an album more acoustic not only in tone but also in mood. However, it is worth noting that the term ‘acoustic’ is intended to be used loosely. Studio album number five, entitled ‘Octahedron’ is an eight-song composite of extended melodies, experimental compositions and esoteric lyrics (‘Serpent rays in prism tail rainbows escape’ – your guess is as good as mine as to the meaning?)  

The irony however, is that although the album shifts focus from the bands previous efforts, centring on slower, tranquil and more obscure tracks; it is in fact the more upbeat and rhythmically heavier songs that save ‘Octahedron’ from a sea of musical monotony.  

Tracks such as ‘Teflon’ and ‘Cotopaxi’ are driven by the solid beats of drummer Thomas Pridgen, who sets the bar even higher than that found on ‘The Bedlam in Goliath’. Both songs through their driving melodies and consistent tempos, give the album a certain presence that otherwise would be lacking.  

Other songs such as, ‘Desperate Graves’ blend well softer and more experimental musical elements with grandiose choruses and strong rhythm sections. Overall, ‘Octahedron’ offers enough variety to appease even the staunchest of listener. For the fan that likes to absorb their music, there are seven and eight minute musical creations. Whilst for the literal listener there are short and sharp tracks. This album is definitely a grower. 

Conclusion

Just like their musical predecessors ‘Yes’ did in the 70’s, the Mars Volta whether loved or loathed seems destined to shape the boundaries of Art Rock. Give this one a pass mark.

Tracklisting

  1. Since We’ve Been Wrong
  2. Teflon
  3. Halo of Nembutals
  4. With Twilight As My Guide
  5. Cotopaxi
  6. Desperate Graves
  7. Copernicus
  8. Luciforms

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