The Mars Volta
Amputechture


5.0
classic

Review

by Simon Killip CONTRIBUTOR (140 Reviews)
April 7th, 2015 | 59 replies


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Creatively this was the highest point in the band's career.

2006’s Amputechture is undoubtedly The Mars Volta’s underrated gem, largely overlooked by De Loused and Frances the Mute as being the unprecedented classics from the band. But to dismiss Amputechture would be a disservice to anyone who enjoys the bands music; the LP holds just as many redeeming qualities as the formers and at some points, can give the listener more than ever. The album consists of 8 tracks that send you to a place only The Mars Volta can. In terms of overall tone, this is probably the band's most consistent effort, even the artwork fits the band's sonic pallet perfectly; both tonally and visually the album emits a warm feeling, one that from the moment it starts makes you feel like you’re stuck in the middle of a baking desert.

Stylistically, Amputechture is mostly a blend of jazz-fusion, and progressive-rock, but a lot of the consistent tone comes from the Latin influences, which are far more prevalent on here than ever before. It also feels like a natural progression from Frances the Mute, while utilising a lot of the key traits and elements from its former; you’ll listen to large sections that stretch on before weaving into the next large section, using masses of effect layered guitars, synths, keys and repetitive rhythm sections -- this all done while Cedric belts out some of his finest vocal performances to date. This album pushes the boundaries to the limit, and isn’t for the faint hearted -- delving deeper into obscurity -- but if you manage to hit the repeat button and stick with it you’ll be rewarded massively.

Compositionally Amputechture is masterfully crafted and songs are created in a way that really emphasis and make the accessible sections of songs standout. Songs like “Meccamputechture” start off with a catchy verse that repeat itself over and over, repetitive rhythms that will be buried in your head for days to come, before the track snowballs adding little changes or an extra riff before building into a jam section, becoming more obscure and crazy, and then quickly shifting back into the section you started off listening to. Any other band attempting this would be crushed from the weight of being too mundane, but The Mars Volta manage to bring the rewards. The jams can leave you almost uncomfortable, especially in the LP’s largest track, “Tetragrammaton”, which almost crosses the line of overstaying its welcome, but this formula makes the accessible parts so much more effective, and brings an energy that leaves a lasting affect on the listener. Amputecture isn’t completely out to scramble your brain though, “Vermicide” is this LP’s calling to “The Widow” and is by far the easiest listen on the album. While the gentle “Asilos Magdalena” will bring you to a level head again with Omar’s finger-picking acoustic guitar and Cedric’s fantastic vocal performance, that undoubtedly steals the spotlight and will leave the hairs on the back of your neck to stand on end from his gentle vocal melodies. Amputechture also shows off some impressive musical ability, mainly showcased on “Day of Baphoments”, drums go all out crazy throughout, Juan shows he isn’t all about sitting inside the pocket, with his face-melting bass solo from the intro, and Adrian has a solo battle with Omar on his Sax. The song runs at just under 12 minutes and really gives to fans that are into the more complex side to the band.

For me this is the band's last classic. While certainly not for everyone - if you found Frances the Mute to be a little self indulgent and spread a little too thin, you won’t be won over here - but for those that put in the effort and stick with all its long-winded sections, it will reward you greatly. The overall atmosphere and tone Amputechture sets is more than enough reason to give this a go.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
April 7th 2015


13304 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Been a while since I've done a review so I thought I'd do an album I love dearly.



As always constructive criticism welcome.

Digging: Chelsea Wolfe - Hiss Spun

Tunaboy45
April 7th 2015


15496 Comments


Great review Gonzo! Have a pos.

Digging: The National - Sleep Well Beast

ButteryBiscuitBass
April 7th 2015


11174 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Best Volta by an absolute mile.

DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
April 7th 2015


13304 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

So glad you agree, buttery. I love the first two, but man I love the feel to this one.

DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
April 7th 2015


13304 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Cheers Tuna!

brandaao
April 7th 2015


137 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great Review. Pos'd.



This album is incredible. I really don't understand why so many people feel this is lukewarm.

Ryus
April 7th 2015


15142 Comments


mind-numbingly atrocious band but sweet review, pos'd :D

Digging: Fredo Santana - Fredo Kruger 2

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
April 7th 2015


7550 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Best Volta by an absolute mile.



So true (although it lies a few steps below Bedlam In Goliath), the flow of the album is monumental.



And THAT bass work.......

JS19
April 7th 2015


5845 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is the utter wrong opinion but you write gud and stuff i like it

Digging: Helpless - Debt

KILL
April 7th 2015


80846 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

classic in every sense of the word

zakalwe
April 7th 2015


22751 Comments


Whiney drivel

Digging: Randomer - Smokin

ButteryBiscuitBass
April 7th 2015


11174 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Behave!!!

zakalwe
April 7th 2015


22751 Comments


Open your ears butters son

Tunaboy45
April 7th 2015


15496 Comments


I haven't even heard this

Titan
April 7th 2015


17856 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

average at best.....butters wtf?

DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
April 7th 2015


13304 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"And THAT bass work......."



Juan is a total beast. He can't be caged on this.

DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
April 7th 2015


13304 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Get on it, Tuna, it's a good'n

ButteryBiscuitBass
April 7th 2015


11174 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Dude it's phenomenal you've got issues Titan buh

Ryus
April 7th 2015


15142 Comments


"I haven't even heard this"

neither have i but frances the mute is a 1 and this is probably the worst band ive ever heard so i probably wont listen ever

DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
April 7th 2015


13304 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Cheers for the pos, Ryus. Not a fan of the band, eh?



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