During the album's early stages of recording, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (guitar) purchased a ouija board from a Jerusalem curio shop as a gift for fellow bandmate Cedric Bixler- Zavala (vocals). It eventually became a pastime ritual for the members and a ghastly presence (touted 'Goliath') from the board came about and deranged their material to the point of driving their sound engineer to the brink of a mental breakdown, crippled their lead singer, and pretty much caused a hell of a maelstrom. Rodriguez-Lopez finally broke and buried the board and continued on with the production of this album with a new resolve fresh from the band's otherworldly experience.
The result: Omar-Rodriguez et al unleashes a sheer force of pure cyclonic energy in their fourth studio album. Definitely a sound to be reckoned with. Interspersed with Bixler-Zavala's penetrating screeching vocal belts are Rodriguez-Lopez's complex guitar signatures that are not to be outdone by their new drummer's, Thomas Pridgen, lightning speed drum solos and precise beat progressions. Pridgen's addition to the team has proven to be a good choice. His youthful energy gives this album it's X-factor. John Frusciante (guitarist of Red Hot Chili Peppers) lends his distorted shreds in some songs such as "Wax Simulacra", since TMV toured with the Peppers in 2006.
Along with further experimentation on jazz, Latin influences, ambient, sonic and distorted noises, this is TMV's heaviest and most powerful record to date. In "Ilyena", Bixler-Zavala wails, "Let me in, in, in..." all while a dark distortion fills the air, a mirror of their ominous precursor to their encounter with the otherwordly spectre, which is the basis for the album's name. They have one song also called "Goliath" which rings with a technicality that is absolutely cerebral. Bixler-Zavala filters his voice into a audio manipulation machine, making him sound like a cyborg clone of himself. In "Oroborous", Pridgen expertly lays paradiddle techniques while the rest of the band follow effortlessly. "Wax Simulacra", their single that won them Best Hard Rock Performance at the Grammy's, boasts mind-blowing progression shifts with a whirlwind drum solo by Pridgen accompanied by a saxophone, playing catch up, to cap off the dramatic finish.
This is one of their longer albums (clocking in at almost 73 minutes) made up of 12 songs with an average of 5-6 minutes as opposed to past albums which have had 11, 16 and even a 42 minute song wandering about in so many free-flying dissonant noises. "Bedlam In Goliath" is definitely much louder, with a mixture of so many different sounds clashing and then interweaving with one another. Omar-Rodriguez and Bixler-Zaval masterfully produced this prog-rock tapestry. They've incorporated ethereal sounds and even recordings of a busy Jerusalem street, a setting based on their experiences with the ouija board, and it all comes out inscrutable, ghastly but poignant. Think Funk-Thrash Metal bursting at 200 kilometers per hour.
They may have just kicked themselves degrees up higher in the bizarre-o-meter, but you simply have to admit that The Mars Volta makes pretty damn good music