The Mars Volta

1. The Whip Hand
2. Aegis
3. Dyslexicon
4. Empty Vessels Make The Loudest Sound
5. The Malkin Jewel
6. Lapochka
7. In Absentia
8. Imago
9. Molochwalker
10. Trinkets Pale Of Moon
11. Vedamalady
12. Noctourniquet
13. Zed And Two Naughts

Omar Rodríguez-López – guitar, keyboards, synths, bass, direction, arrangements
Cedric Bixler-Zavala – vocals, lyrics
Juan Alderete – bass guitar
Deantoni Parks – drums
Marcel Rodríguez-López (though credited, did not play on the album)

De-Loused in the Comatorium (2003)
Frances the Mute (2005)
Amputechture (2006)
The Bedlam in Goliath (2008)
Octahedron (2009)


Omar Rodríguez-López – producer
Lars Stalfors – recording engineer, mixing
Isaiah Abolin – recording engineer
Heba Kadry – mastering
Sonny Kay – artwork, layout, design

Released 28/3-2012
Reviewed 3/6-2012

warner bros records

American The Mars Volta are back with a new album called Nocturniquet which is the album that follows the longest hiatus in the career of the band, although main man Omar has still been very busy though releasing something like 15 albums under his own name in some form since 2009 when The Mars Volta released Octahedron. Mars Volta is one of the most recognised “look-at-me-I-am-the-greatest-bands” that are out there nowadays and there is a sense of psychedelia over this album both by the cover art and the overall feel of the thing. It is their sixth album and the first one that I have really ever paid attention to, maybe it will awaken an interest I have never had for this band, or maybe it will just confirm what I have suspected all along. This is also one album I had high hopes for when first getting it, which is also why I have given it much longer time than many other albums I have reviewed (with at least 30 playthroughs) before writing this review.

I think musically it is hard not to draw parallels to the classic progressive rock bands from Britain that were active in the seventies, a style that has come a little bit to life again lately. The Mars Volta is clearly inspired by this kind of music and influences from many of those bands are easy to find while listening through this album that has a great sound and skilled musicianships as well as many innovative musical ideas that are being found all the way through this album. The singer has a somewhat hypnotic way of conveying his vocals and the lyrics are about as incoherent as the musical style. It is hard to describe in words an overall sound of this album as it has none, it feels a bit fragmented both in total and through several of the songs. It is music that clearly requires a certain type of listener and as a connoisseur of progressive rock, who better to review this album?

I think that this album shows brilliance… in two of the tracks. The single track The Malkin Jewel and the following Lapochka are great tracks with the former being very inspired by Pink Floyd I would assume and the latter being just a good song and the only coherent bit of music on the entire album. I think this album is just too fragmented, too much self fixated and too anal to be really interesting. And the fact that the playing time is well past the hour hardly qualifies as a positive, it is too much and sometimes it is so boring that you imagine yourself falling out of a plane without a parachute or something else more exciting than those parts. Thing is though that there are flashes of brilliance all throughout the album which sort of gives the same disappointing feel as having seen a JJ Abrams film, there is great tension and suspense being built up but when everything is to be completed (in the last act of the films, and the final adjustments on the album) it fails completely in something that is as spectacular as it is pointless and poor. So instead of a leaving it with a sensation of satisfaction and feeling challenged you leave with shrug.

In the end I think that this is a decent album, it has some flashes of greatness but the overall feeling is one of slight disappointment as you cannot help up thinking that it could have been so much better. The band are just too full of themselves to really manage to make a great album, I think you have to respect the skill involved and the innovative ideas behind this album but innovative ideas and challenging song structures alone never make a great album. I think that they should have stood back, looked at what they had done and realised that with a bit less delusions of grandeur Nocturniquet would have been so much better.




Label: Warner Bros Records
Three similar bands: Pink Floyd/Radiohead/At the Drive-In
Rating: HHHHHHH (4/7)
Reviewer: Daniel Källmalm

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