After the demise of indie band At the Drive-in, Cedric Bixler and Omar Rodriguez (the guys with the afros) created the new, progressive rock outfit that is the Mars Volta. After hearing the stunning Tremulant
I was hooked on their music. Instead of riding the success they had with At the Drive-in, the unique hardcore/indie style, they tried new things, and the results are splendid. Take such examples as 'Eunuch Provocateur' (my personal all-time favourite Mars Volta song) 'Cicatriz Esp' (the 12 minute epic featuring Red Hot Chili Peppers' John Frusciante on guitar) and 'Roulette Dares (the haunt of)', and it's clear that they succeeded with their plans, and as soon as their first album. Comprising of only 8 tracks (with 2 fillers) and running a tad over an hour, their shortest song is 4 and a half minutes long, so get prepared for some epics.
As you may have heard, De-loused in the Comatorium
is based on a character called Cerpin Taxt, who goes through a journey throughout the album, and eventually commits suicide. Cerpin Taxt, in turn, is based on a friend of Cedric and Omar's who committed suicide, Julio Venegas. Off the Tremulant
EP, 'Concertina' was based on Julio and the man they allege to have caused his suicide (he did other things, like nearly make Jim Ward (Other guitarist in ATDI) have a nervous breakdown, and tried to get Omar to leave ATDI) and Cedric felt like he needed to dedicate an entire album to him.
Unfortunately for the band, especially considering live shows, Jeremy Ward died shortly after the release of 'De-loused' because of a heroin OD. Whilst not appearing to be an essential member, Jeremy was always backstage during live sets, setting up the band's sounds and adding ambience music, and will be sorely missed (you can find an R.I.P notice for Jeremy on the clip to 'Inertiatic'). Paul Hinojos (Bassist of Sparta) is the new sound guy.
And one final mention must go to the rest of the band. This band wouldn't be half the band they are without the drumming services of Jon Theodore. He is an amazing drummer, and constantly keeps rhythm, even with the odd time signatures. Flea's bass playing is not the slap-happy funk style you would expect from a Red Hot Chili Peppers album, but it is still excellent. As always, Cedric Bixler's energy and strange lyrics are a highlight of the album, and Omar Rodriguez's guitar and composing skills are nearly unmatched.
Composed by Omar Rodriguez and Cedric Bixler
Vocals ' Cedric Bixler
Guitars ' Omar Rodriguez
Bass ' Flea
Drums - Jon Theodore
Keyboards ' Ikey Owens
Sounds ' Jeremy Ward
Son et Lumiere (1:35), Inertiatic Esp (4:24)
Son et Lumiere is basically an intro to Inertiatic Esp, that is why I have merged them. To begin this album, a faint wind sound is heard, following by a keyboard pulsing out some chords. There is nothing really to say about Son et Lumiere, except that 'son' in Spanish means 'are' in English, and that it is a great lead in song to Inertiatic Esp.
We've had the entr'e now it's the main course. Inertiatic is a great song. It is the only song to be released by the Mars Volta, and is a good choice. Whilst clearly not the best song on the album, it is the easies to listen to, and is the highest pace, and is upbeat, so it's a good get-into-us song. The song begins with a snare drum roll, and the lyrics 'Now I'm lost' which begins the journey of Cerpin Taxt, who obviously gets lost somewhere, presumably his mind. The sound is quite similar to At the Drive-in sort of, it has obvious influences, which is always good. A good opening track.
Roulette Dares (the haunt of) (7:31)
Very Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon
-esque as the tracks roll smoothly into one another. This song is the first of many long-ish songs, and is a stunner, my 2nd favourite song off the album. It begins relatively simply, with background music and a synth to make it sound cool. It has a good intro bit, very fast, and then enters a slow verse, and the transition is excellent, aided by Omar's amazing guitar fills. Omar has an insanely high riff count in this, and Flea pumps the bassline like no one else can. At about the 1:25 the lead in riff to the chorus is quite memorable. The bridge part (about 2:10) is the first experimental phrase of the CD, with Omar and Ikey going nuts, and Flea and Jon holding beat expertly. Another experimental bit is further on down the track, and ends the song well. A near-perfectly constructed song, and you will wish it went for longer than its already huge 7:31.
Tira me a las Aranas (1:28)
Another filler track. I'm not sure if it leads into 'Drunkship of Lanterns' so I didn't fuse the two. Tira me a las Aranas would be cool if it was a real song, but it's too short. It's sort of an Indian-sounding solo from the guitar, and it flows into the next song quite well, so the two songs are probably linked, but oh well.
Drunkship of Lanterns (7:05)
Many people that enjoy the Mars Volta that I talk/chat to seem to think that this is an excellent song, but I don't agree with them. While the talent taken to write this song is blatantly obvious, I can't seem to enjoy it, no matter how many times I download it. However, I must say, I do enjoy the polyrhythm bit (first heard at 0:38) it is marvellous. And the guitar solo at about 5:00 is amazing.
The beginning of the song sounds remarkably like 'Inertiatic Esp', with the guitar and drum roll, but again, that's a good thing. A slower song by the boys, initially. It gets good (well, better than it already was) at about 1:30 mark. This song was the song that made me say 'Flea I ****ing hate you for being so ****ing **** good'. An excellent track, but not one of my favourites for me. It fluctuates immensely throughout, making it interesting to say the least. The chord progression from about 1:10 is sublime.
Cicatriz Esp (12:29)
Cicatriz Esp. Cicatriz Esp. Cicatriz Esp. My favourite track off the album, and it is not hard to see why. This track is just so **** good. It has everything a music lover could ask for, guitar solos (by Mr. Frusciante from Chili Pepper ' amazing guitarist) guitar riffs, excellent bass, insane rhythms from Jon. I love the intro to this song. 'Do you recall its name?' It's like a psychiatrist is questioning Cerpin if he is sure he saw something. I love it! It gets excellent after the helicopter bit, the chorus is very high paced, and easy to listen to. But after this is where the real magic begins. The jam session! Ahhhhhh. Some of the most amazing things I have heard come out of the 6-stringed instrument we call a guitar are in this jam. It shows you how good John Frusciante is. To be honest, the first time I heard this, I fell asleep! But I was tired. The only problem I have with this song is the bit in the middle of the song, it gets very quiet, and sounds like the microphone is underwater. A cool effect, but it goes for about 2-3 minutes, far too long. But the following guitar solo makes up for the wait. If you allow yourself the 12 minutes to listen and appreciate this track, you will see how very good it is. It ends with the vocals out, similar to Pink Floyd's jams in The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
This Apparatus Must be Unearthed (4:57)
Hmm. It's funny how Cedric Bixler can write two songs, one can be decent, and one can be a complete failure. Oh well. I really dislike this song, and there is nothing in it that can convince me otherwise. This song is monotonous, bland, and overall, very boring. Thankfully it only takes up under 5 minutes of the 1 hour masterpiece.
This delightfully named track starts off quite slow, just ambience music really. Guitars enter at about 0:30, and an acoustic (that's right) comes out to play. This is 2nd prog rock song I've heard (Comfortably Numb) that has an acoustic in it. Whilst quite slow, I enjoy this song, and I feel it sort of wrecked it when it gets heavier. It would be an excellent track if Cedric didn't start wailing in some parts. A good, relaxing track nonetheless.
Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt (8:42)
This song is nothing short of awesome. The intro is the best on the album. In some sense, this song is similar to the first song, Inertiatic, in that it is high paced, and is heavily At the Drive-in sounding. The line 'You take the veil' PROBABLY means to commit suicide, but I am not sure. (I wish they would hurry up and release the booklet!) I love the jam in this, mainly because it has a BASS SOLO! Yayyy. First bass solo in the history of prog rock no doubt. And what a solo it is. I wish I were as good as Flea. The guitar solo, heavily underrated because of the mighty BASS SOLO (I wish) is quite good. Whilst not very easy to listen to, you can appreciate it if you are a musician. Then, 4:36. The BASS SOLO! Flea, you are a genius. Even though it only goes for about 20 seconds it is still masterfully done. Another guitar follows this one, this time much more easier to listen to, and in my opinion, much better than the first one. The bongos give it an added effect as well, instead of just normal drums. The lyrics come back around the 7-minute mark to conclude the album. The album finishes with Cedric Bixler screaming 'you brought me here!' whatever than means in the story of Cerpin Taxt.
My rating you ask? This is an album that helped me really get into prog rock. Now I like bands such as Yes, Rush and Dream Theater (I've always been a fan of Floyd). So my rating is 5/5. Buy this album and love it, but DON'T expect At the Drive-in, they are two completely different bands.