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Mars Volta – De-Loused in the Comatorium

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(Ooh, a relatively short review from me. Everyone rejoice, you can read this in one sitting!)

The reviewers at Pitchforkmedia are spotty, at best, but I have determined that Brent DiCrescenzo is absolutely the worst of the lot. I’ve already documented my distaste for his “skills” in my open letter to Pitchforkmedia (and some readers who have responded there have a problem with me taking them seriously) but I now have to say that this guy just has a chip on his shoulder about music that takes itself seriously. After reading a review of the new album from the Mars Volta, I was intrigued enough to listen to sound samples at CD Universe and found that I liked what I heard. After work, I stopped at Zia and found the album there. My drive home from there was full of modern prog-rock goodness, stuff the likes of which we rarely get to hear anymore, especially from the remnants of yell-rock band At The Drive-in. Long songs (one of which clocks in at over 12 minutes long,) intricate structures, soaring vocals – I don’t know how this could possibly sell to kids these days who have eschewed anything that gives any hint of a band’s talent.

There are touches of early Genesis in abundance, especially in the various odd vocal treatments of the late Jeremy Michael Ward, who passed away in May of a drug overdose. Ward performed a sort of Eno-role here, manipulating sound the way Eno did on Genesis’ epic The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. How this band will continue on without him is a guess, his role is much more significant than it seems without hearing his contributions.

It’s definitely for those who enjoy serious prog-rock (in other words, not the type of stuff that does this in a tongue-in-cheek way) in the vein of Porcupine Tree, but a little more obscure and psychotic (with much less of the melodic touch that the Tree is known for.)

(Find more fun than you can handle at unproductivity.)

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About Tom Johnson

  • Seth Werkheiser

    Heh., I just came back to the site and saw Mars Volta at the top and though, wow… no one has posted since noon? haha

  • Ed Lohrer

    Thanks for the informative review.
    I graduated H.S. quite awhile ago, Rush 2112 was released the year I graduated, and Progressive Rock has always been my music of choice since the mid 70’s (Genesis, Yes, Rush, King Crimson, etc.). In the 80’s, when Genesis became too “poppie” and Yes screwed around with their line-up, I basically gave up on “Prog Rock”(as they call it now) and have been searching for a replacement sound ever since. It has been in the past two years, thanks to the internet, I found that the sound that I grew up with didn’t die thanks to bands like Spock’s Beard and The Flower Kings. The “suck ass” record stores and radio stations that we have in Pittsburgh never promote or rarely carry this genre. So, thanks to you and all the other reviewers on this site for helping me to rediscover the “sounds of my youth”, sometimes a little harder edged but never disappointing.

  • The Theory

    man, around here even places like Circuit City have the decency to carry bands like Spock’s Beard… but then, I’ve always found west PA to be a tad queer. :-P

    peace.

  • Ed Lohrer

    Mr. ,or is it Ms., Theory, I bought Spock’s Beard and Flower Kings CDs at Sam Goodys. What I was refering to was the lack of air-play and advertising that Prog Rock bands don’t recieve (mostly thanks to the Clear Channel monopoly). Sites like this one and especially “The Dutch Progressive Rock Page”, http://www.dprp.vuurwerk.nl/ , have opened my eyes to how much the Prog Rock scene has really grown since the 70’s.
    Oh, by the way, which “Macho” part of the country are you from Mr./Ms. Theory? ;-)

  • http://www.unproductivity.com Tom Johnson

    Ed: if you have an open mind (and it sounds like it if you enjoy the Mars Volta) you may want to check out Thought Industry, who are slightly less “prog” but very similar in general sound. Their earlier albums are very odd – Songs For Insects and Mods Carve the Pig: Assassins, Toads and God’s Flesh are too very aggressive, forward looking albums (so much so that nothing has come close to them in sound in the 10 years or so since they were released) that encompass everything prog should – changing time signatures, complex melodies, etc. On these two albums these guys cover just about every guitar-based rock musical style – often in one song! Their later albums evolved them into a less eclectic, but still intriguing prog-style band. Short Wave On A Cold Day, their most recent album, is a full-on concept album reminiscent of Fates Warning, Queensryche and other latter day prog/metal bands. Really good stuff that unfortunately goes almost entirely unnoticed. I should probably put some reviews of these guys up soon . . .

  • Ed Lohrer

    Thanks Tom, I’ll check it out. I just ordered Mars Volta from Amazon.com based on your review and the samples online. Here’s a suggestion for you, “Emphasizer” by Garage a Trois. It’s completely different, to label it I’d call it “Jazz-Fusion-Funk” led by 8-string Jazz guitaist, Charlie Hunter. Here is the link to the Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B00008V5TY/qid=1060364264/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_1/103-1806373-3002265?v=glance&s=music&n=507846 There are plenty of samples, check it out and let me know what you think.

  • The Theory

    hey ed, i hail just east of you in Lancaster…
    oh, and I’m male…

    peace.

  • Ed Lohrer

    Mr. Theory, LANCASTER??? How do you know anything about music? You people aren’t allowed to use electricity and you have to paint your Cadillacs flat black, including the headlights! ;-)
    Just kiddin’. I read your review of Dream Theater’s “…Inner Turbulence” on your blog site and thought that it was excellent…for someone east of State College.

  • andy

    knock Lancaster all you want…

    Lancaster County-45 minutes from Philly, 1.5 hours from Baltimore, 3 hours from NYC, 2 hours from DC….

    yeah we get our taste of culture.