The Mars Volta
Frances the Mute


4.5
superb

Review

by Sean USER (18 Reviews)
January 4th, 2009 | 67 replies


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An extremely original album that really caught me off guard.

The Mars Volta is certainly one of the strangest bands I have ever crossed. A couple years ago I saw one of their music videos when I randomly flipped through MTV. I believe the video was for "The Widow". Anyways, it never took me by surprise or impressed me in the least. See, back in those days I wasn't very into the Progressive genre of music. Nor was I really a fan of abstract experimental music. Nowadays my taste in music has certainly changed. I now I have a higher tolerance for music that you usually don't hear everyday. The Mars Volta truly falls into this category. They are truly their own band.

Now, after giving you that opening monologue, I can go on and say that Francis The Mute is one fantastic album. After listening to their newest album, Bedlam In Goliath, I see a major difference in how they approached songs on this album. Bedlam sounds very experimental to me, while Francis The Mute really sounds like The Mars Volta was trying to take a more classic approach to songwriting. In some areas I'm reminded of Led Zeppelin (The Widow) due to Cedric's high pitched, ingenious vocals, and Lopez's sometimes very Jimmy Page inspired lead guitar work. I am often reminded of Pink Floyd with many of the dissonant experimentation with random noises that usually comes along before and after songs. However, be certain that The Mars Volta is truly in their own league. By mixing some of these things from these great classic bands in with their own original style of songwriting and musicianship, they have come out with an amazingly original album.

Many of the songs on this album are extremely long. The last song is actually 32 minutes long. I know that it sounds hard to take, but it's actually not. These songs are quite easy to enjoy because of the lack of repetition. The band is always doing something new and quite different from before. For example, Lopez might play a very traditional Rock lick in one part, then seconds later he might just go off into something that sounds like he might as well be playing in a Fusion Jazz band. That is one thing about this album; You really don't know what to expect from the guitar work. Lopez is truly a genius when it comes to playing his instrument. Not to mention he writes most, if not all of the songs for the band. This definitely explains the bands very original music.

I won't give all of the credit to Lopez, though. Even though he is a big part of the band, this band still wouldn't be what it is without the fantastic vocals of Cedric Bixler-Zavala; Another huge part of this band. Cedric is certainly a very talented vocalist. He often reminds me of Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, but still manages to pull off his own original sound. On many songs he truly takes the spotlight with his fantastic vocals. L'Via L'Viaquez has a very Latin inspired sound to it and it is topped off by Cedric's mesmerizing vocal being sung in Spanish. His vocals style can be only classified as fantastic. It really fits with the style of the music, and I honestly could not imagine this band being able to continue on without him.

Speaking of the Latin inspired sound of L'Via L'Viaquez, most of this album really has a huge Latin influence. Many of the lyrics are sung in Spanish, often randomly converting to English. Horns are often brought in to give even more of a traditional Latin sound. Even a piano gets a lengthy solo at the end of L'Via L'Viaquez that is very reminiscent of the traditional Spanish style of music. There are many instruments to be heard on this album. I even heard a flute on the last song! I'm still noticing new instruments every time I listen to this album. Another common thing about this band are the many instrumental breaks in the songs. There is often more time given to the instruments than there is the vocals, which really shows that this band is truly in it to make great music and not focus the spotlight on just one talented member of the band.

Overall, this is a fantastic album. It really took me by surprise, to be quite honest. This was just my second experience with The Mars Volta, but it turned out quite well. This is one of the best albums I've listened to in a long time, and it establishes The Mars Volta as one of my favorite and most respected bands.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
einsteinsbiscuit
January 4th 2009


21 Comments


This was just my second experience with The Mars Volta, but it turned out quite well


Recommend you get De-loused by them and Relationship of Command by At the Drive In.

gaslightanthem
January 4th 2009


5209 Comments


album is v v good

Merkaba33
January 4th 2009


702 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

recently ive been trying to get into all the "sputnik" bands. i finally am beginning to enjoy opeth after i got use to all the growls. but idk about volta. like most progressive it has it's great moments but a lot of filler too.

McP3000
January 4th 2009


3941 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

album is absolute insanity

bastard
January 4th 2009


3435 Comments


it really caught him off guard

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
January 4th 2009


17944 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i remember when i thought this was their best!

gaslightanthem
January 4th 2009


5209 Comments


as do i - wasn't all that long ago in fact

johnnyblaze
January 4th 2009


2626 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Too many Zeppelin references, but good review none-the-less. Check out Amputechture as well, it definitely has its weak spots, but it's TMV so it's well worth your time.

gaslightanthem
January 4th 2009


5209 Comments


deloused --> frances --> bedlam --> amputechture

Spamue1G
January 4th 2009


1292 Comments


If I had to pick which TMV album to start with, which one should it be? Good review btw.

HUMGUY009
January 4th 2009


35 Comments


I don't like it when cedric sings in spanish.

gaslightanthem
January 4th 2009


5209 Comments


If I had to pick which TMV album to start with, which one should it be? Good review btw.

deloused --> frances --> bedlam --> amputechture






willfellmarsy
January 4th 2009


3849 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

[quote=HUMGUY009]I don't like it when cedric sings in spanish.[/quote]...then you're silly
ok review, amputechture is better than you all is sayin



foreverendeared
January 4th 2009


14678 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

i remember like 3 years ago when i got this, and i didn't take this out of my car's cd player for at least 4 months

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
January 4th 2009


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

best album of all time.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
January 4th 2009


17944 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

maybe in middle earth

foreverendeared
January 4th 2009


14678 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

for me, it's between this, Pink Floyd's Animals, or Sigur Ros ( )

magictikkleCwicked
January 4th 2009


272 Comments


But what about all the other generic Sputnik classics?

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
January 4th 2009


17944 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

chris idk why you suddenly become a huge troll but go back to the way u were b4

magictikkleCwicked
January 4th 2009


272 Comments


Mods need to give me my old egos back, this is just a test.



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