The Mars Volta
Octahedron


4.0
excellent

Review

by Sean Milo USER (24 Reviews)
June 16th, 2009 | 122 replies | 10,034 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Bedlam v2.0? No, this is The Mars Volta v2.0

15 of 15 thought this review was well written

Its hard to believe that the Mars Volta released The Bedlam in Goliath only a year ago. It seems like just yesterday I was going down to Best Buy to pick up my own copy. I remember listening to it and noticing the immense change that the band has gone through since the release of Frances The Mute. Aside from sound changes, Bedlam was a hit for most of the fans. Aside from a few haters, the album received much critical acclaim, earning a place in the top ten albums of 2008 right here on sputnik music, selling over 350,000 copies worldwide, and even receiving a Grammy for the single “Wax Simulacra”. But when we heard the news about TMV’s new album, Octahedron, nobody knew quite what to expect. The band released news that the album would be solely “acoustic”. Then later down the road they released Cotopaxi, which completely stood against the entire acoustic concept, maintaining the same chaotic sound that was presented in Bedlam. People everywhere were expecting a sequel to the previous album, expecting they would continue down the path of their previous release. But with Octahedron, The Mars Volta threw a complete curveball. Bedlam v2.0? No, this is The Mars Volta v2.0.

Octahedron presents a new sound from the band, a sound that we have never thought we would hear from them before. There are a few sprinkles of the band from the past, but this is something that they have never performed. The album isn’t necessarily “acoustic”, as they would say, but more mellow and smooth. Some songs are heavier, but the only track that seems fitting into Bedlam would be Cotopaxi, which to be quite honest feels pretty out of place. It feels as if it was a B-side from their previous release, and just stuck it on their new record. “Teflon” does not follow along with the mellow feel too well either, being mostly based around Pridgen’s drumming, which isn’t as insane on previous tracks such as “Wax Simulacra”. “Desperate Graves” sounds somewhat of something off of Bedlam, but with a more mellow feel to it. It reminds me a lot of “Soothsayer”.

But aside from sounds carried on from the previous album, most of Octahedron stays with the mellower sounding Mars Volta. The album opener, “Since We’ve Been Wrong” sounds just like your mellow, typical prog-rock acoustic song. Almost like Pink Floyd with a bit of a twist to it. It opens up with a minute or so of ambience, and then goes into Omar lightly picking out acoustic chords while Cedric sings over it. The entire track is very smooth, and various parts range from extremely soft and soothing to quite intense. The same is heard on “With Twilight As My Guide”. It begins with soft acoustic guitar playing and ambient notes ringing out in the background. The track really showcases the boundaries of Cedric’s voice. His voice soars and swoops over the landscape painted by the background sounds and Omar’s light picking.

“Copernicus”, the seventh track on the album, is quite possibly one of the most interesting tracks that the Mars Volta has made to date. A lot of the lyrics that Cedric writes seem to be random words picked out of the crossword from last Sunday’s paper. However, the lyrics written here are brilliant. In fact, they even make sense, which is rare for The Mars Volta. The song is very ambient, beginning with nothing but Omar’s guitar, which seems to have a slight influence of post rock dabbled in, which is a genre we would not expect the band to venture into. At around the four minute mark, a strange techno-like beat even comes in. It isn’t often we see such variety of influence in the band’s music. The song even closes with a piano. How about that.

Overall, Octahedron is definitely a departure for the band. They have gotten all of the energy out of their system with Bedlam, and now they leave us with a fantastic record that ventures into the strange, ambient, and soothing landscapes that The Mars Volta has created for their fifth album. We get to hear the rare and calm side that the band almost never shows itself to us. Tracks such as “Since We’ve Been Wrong” and “With Twilight As My Guide” showcase this the best, with slow, eerily calming buildups weaved together by light and smooth acoustic guitar work, very little percussion, and Cedric’s astonishing vocal performance. Octahedron is not the Mars Volta that we heard jumping around stage, raping the drum kit, and flailing their fingers up and down the fret board. This is a completely new sound for the band, and so far, it is definitely going for the better.

4/5

Recommended Tracks:
Since We’ve Been Wrong
Teflon
With Twilight As My Guide
Desperate Graves
Copernicus

(Stream: http://www.myspace.com/themarsvolta)



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Comments:Add a Comment 
PuddleSwimmer
June 16th 2009



1457 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I agree

The drums was my favorite part of TMV, so I'll be going back to Bedlam more often
Good review, probably the first of 49

Knott-
Emeritus
June 16th 2009



10194 Comments


Review is fantastic, easily your best in my opinion. I still need to listen to this, can't get around to it.

Zip
June 16th 2009



5312 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I didn't like this much.

Shrapnel94
June 16th 2009



2213 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Hah im surprised there werent like 20 when I got home today.

Knott-
Emeritus
June 16th 2009



10194 Comments


oh and you should probably link to the stream at the end, justincase

Shrapnel94
June 16th 2009



2213 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Good idea, thanks strikey

oathfbass
June 16th 2009



388 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Album is good, though I agree Cotopaxi feels out of place on here.

Fugue
June 16th 2009



7352 Comments


Great review and well done at being the first. Haven't listened to this enough to rate it yet but a 3.5/4 seems on the money to me.

ninjuice
June 16th 2009



6759 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Lol, as soon as I saw "Mars Volta album stream" in the top right I looked down the page for a review, and voila!

Review is good, but not amazing - somewhat like the album itself. I'm torn between a 3.5 and 4 for this, but either way it's a great album. Cotopaxi is definitely my song though, because "it kicks my ADD in and makes me wanna run around like old TMV does".

Digging: Robin Skouteris - The King of ArtPOP

jingledeath
June 16th 2009



7104 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this is my first TMV album and it's pretty good

ninjuice
June 16th 2009



6759 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

You're in for a bit of a (wonderful) surprise when you hear their first two.
Which you most certainly should....

jingledeath
June 16th 2009



7104 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah I've only heard good things about that damn De-Loused album. Should be getting it sometime soon

Relinquished
June 16th 2009



24428 Comments


This is leaning into a 4 for me.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
June 16th 2009



17196 Comments


Best TMV album since Frances.

ninjuice
June 16th 2009



6759 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I need to get Bedlam soon so I can (probably) disagree...

joshuatree
Emeritus
June 16th 2009



3743 Comments


2.5

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
June 16th 2009



3761 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

josh wth is your avatar?

Digging: Towers - Bel Air Highrise Plantation

joshuatree
Emeritus
June 16th 2009



3743 Comments


assorted john zorn 50th birthday albums flashing past at a speed of 1 per 0.1 seconds

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
June 16th 2009



3761 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

oic.

This is an OK album. Bitchin' review though.

IAmInsect
June 16th 2009



3800 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Can't wait to pick up the physical copy. Good review.



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