The Mars Volta
De-Loused in the Comatorium


4.5
superb

Review

by Justin Swope USER (81 Reviews)
March 26th, 2013 | 20 replies | 1,679 views


Release Date: 2003 | Tracklist

Review Summary: De-Loused in the Comatorium is an album of scale, of ambition, and of unabashed quirkiness.

13 of 13 thought this review was well written

One of rock's most redeeming qualities is its volatility. There are so many differing degrees in scale, volume, and tone that it's almost absurd. Progressive rock, first sewn together by iconic acts like King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Yes, Jethro Tull, and Rush, has become one of rock's most expansive styles. Its ambiguity lies at the core of what makes the movement so stimulating. Now in the modern era, we've been met with some truly interesting bands that break the mold with their atypical, distinctive sounds. The Mars Volta is one of those groups. When the post-hardcore all stars, At the Drive-In, kicked the bucket, Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, fortunately, had not run out of ideas. They also decided to branch out into a more distant sound. You can call it progressive rock; you can call it outlandish. All that matters is that the Mars Volta's debut album opens the floodgates to a fresh and compulsive musical direction.

Many facets of the Mars Volta's sound signify a clean departure from At the Drive-In. Cedric's vocals no longer carry the sharp, punk-influenced edge of his days with At the Drive-In. Rather, he allows his voice to cover a much more vast soundscape, often surprising the listener with how high his voice can actually go. His performance on "Inertiatic ESP" impressively displays both his unshackled potential as a vocalist and his monumental range. However, the Mars Volta's actual sound, in a way, is cleaner and more heavily engineered. The band adorns their instruments with swirling electronics, field recordings, and towering effects. Thus, the attentiveness to copious production gives De-Loused in the Comatorium the ability to stand tall and assert its monumental presence as a sweeping, remarkable beast. De-Loused feels controlled, but it's never tied down.

This LP tells a rather morbid tale of death and psychological implosion, though it's quite hard to tell given the vague and almost nonsensical song titles as well as the album's delightfully ambivalent mood. Imbued with frantic guitar riffs, explosive percussion, and Cedric's rich vocals, the LP is still liberating in almost every way. "Roulette Dares (The Haunt of)" quickly delivers vehement zeal, but enters the chorus by moderating its wild aesthetic with shrewd finesse. Containing one of the band's punchiest refrains in their entire catalogue, the song showcases the Mars Volta's capacity for sheer magnitude. "Eriatarka" conveys such complex emotions while delivering some of the record's most dynamic moments. Hearing the band toy with Cedric's more delicate, musing vocals alongside brief segments of clamorous sonic eruptions is not only engaging, but also evocative.

Another one of the record's relatively softer tracks is the radiant "Televators", which makes a self-effacing entrance with a medley of natural sounds, like birds, in addition to an anomalous ambience. Despite its more reserved constitution, "Televators" still hits the spot just as consistently with its looming sense of collapse. Along with their progressive approach, the Mars Volta proudly flaunt their quirks. "Drunkship of Lanterns", for instance, exposes a group of musicians who are not afraid to get weird. The track's wayward advancement employs frenzied bongos, sprawling riffs, and even some traces of looping. Though artful production is truly the glue that holds this album together, Omar and his bandmates frequently allow the songs to evolve on their own. While the LP's focus occasionally becomes as nebulous as the songs' messages themselves, it's fairly evident that the band is sticking to its ambitions and slowly disembarking from the platform that provided their foundation.

The most extensive track, "Cicatriz ESP" initially digs in with some very cunning verses before temporarily losing itself in a heap of peculiar effects. Hanging on for the entire ride proves to be rewarding, as the band regains full consciousness and delivers one of their most cathartic and emancipating musical portions yet. Omar's stellar guitar work serves as one of the album's power sources. On "Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt", he has plenty of fun with the skewed direction of the track and jumps on every opportunity to warp the chord progression. However, even the more relaxed section of the track serves a fulfilling purpose, signaling the imminent close of the LP. The Mars Volta's ideas flow pretty freely and, while this is not the most diverse record out there, it perfectly encapsulates what this band is all about.

De-Loused in the Comatorium is a special album indeed. Its consistency and its depth are just a couple of the assets that make the band's debut LP so entertaining. The Mars Volta embrace an outlandish facade to endow their audience with their own brand of progressive rock. Not all the rules are broken here, but few are followed. The end result is a compelling, colossal musical statement.

Favorite Tracks:
Eriatarka
Cicatriz ESP
Roulette Dares (The Haunt of)
Televators
Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt



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Comments:Add a Comment 
jtswope
March 26th 2013



2088 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i know there are plenty of reviews for this, but i couldn't resist =)

sixdegrees
March 26th 2013



16951 Comments


cool

Digging: Ted Nugent - Shutup&jam!

Flagran12
March 26th 2013



65 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review!

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2013



4415 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

POS'd on the sweet review. Love this album.

Digging: Shabazz Palaces - Lese Majesty

YoYoMancuso
March 26th 2013



11028 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nice this album is great, been super into TMV over the past week. FTM eclipses this but Roulette Dares is probably their best song. good work pos

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2013



4415 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

^It's between Cygnus, Goliath, and Tetragrammaton for me. Don't care what anyone here says, Volta knows how to prog.

wacknizzle
March 26th 2013



12997 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This review is fantastic and I agree with many of your points, your ideas are very well thought out. And yes this album is amazing, never gets old for me.

Digging: Polyptych - Illusorium

Titan
March 26th 2013



4858 Comments


great album, great review, pos'd

ZilbelPing
March 26th 2013



6149 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Damn, awesome review

Pos'd

Kman418
March 26th 2013



10256 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Albums fucking amazing

Digging: OutKast - Aquemini

PostMesmeric
March 26th 2013



362 Comments


Love this album, but I'd still put Frances the Mute above it. Sucks that the band is no more.

All in all, awesome review. POS'd hardcore.

YoYoMancuso
March 26th 2013



11028 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Paperback: Cygnus is stupendous, especially the part at 6:59. Jon Theodore rips shit up.

mindleviticus
March 26th 2013



8220 Comments


NOW I''MMMMM LOOOOOOST

YoYoMancuso
March 26th 2013



11028 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Made its way through the tracks of a snail slouching whisper, a half mass commute through umbilical blisters

Chortles
March 26th 2013



17945 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

best volta homiEZ

DrMaximus
March 26th 2013



9160 Comments


Faux prog lives!

sixdegrees
March 26th 2013



16951 Comments


not even a page before the first mention of 'faux prog' nicely done!

Gwyn.
March 26th 2013



15018 Comments


pos'd album's sweet

but I'd still put Frances the Mute above it. [2]

I haven't listened to either At the Drive-In nor The Mars Volta in the past few weeks besides one or two songs

I miss these guys, I need to jam later

Digging: diSEMBOWELMENT - Transcendence into the Peripheral

InbredJed
May 18th 2013



5790 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

great review, I remember when this came out, back when I was still in high school reading REVOLVER mag.

people really didn't know what to think, for my money this is one of the best debut records of all-time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNDPAlRJCFg

Digging: Backyard Mortuary - Lure of the Occult

MikeC26
May 18th 2013



3174 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

good review

good album



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