The Mars Volta
Amputechture


2.5
average

Review

by Jeremy Price USER (33 Reviews)
September 10th, 2006 | 48 replies


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist


Upon first inspection, Amputechture should have been The Mars Volta's best album. It did everything right. It cut down on the overdrawn ambience featured in Frances The Mute and the chaos present in Deloused In The Comatorium, and instead added what they are known best for: noodling guitars, screeching high vocals, 10+ minute tracks, and indecipherable lyrics. In fact, before hearing the CD, I was planning on writing a very positive review on the CD. However, halfway through Tetragrammaton, I turned the music off, tired of listening to the CD already. That's right. I couldn't even get through one quarter of the CD upon first try. And I was puzzled. "What happened? Why couldn't I listen to the CD?", and, above all other questions, "What did The Mars Volta do wrong?"

Although it's difficult to blame myself in my inability to fully explore the record. It’s not as if the Mars Volta are opening their musical arms and beckoning me in with Amputechture. In fact, if anything, they're trying to keep the doors from opening more than a crack. Vicarious Atonement could be described as the proverbial bouncer to the club that is Amputechture, keeping out those not ready to experience the prog-explosion to come. It's basically a 7 minute song that moves at a pace so slow and laborious that first-time listeners might just give up halfway through the song. That’s not to say it's a bad song. The song is definitely solid, using TMV's signature blend of noodling guitars, sweeping ambience, and Rush-esque tight vocals well. The main problem with the song is that it just tries to drag on the introduction to the album too long. This 7 minute ballad is fairly good, but would have been far more effective at a different spot in the album.

Tetragrammaton could be considered a prize to listeners who survived Vicarious Atonement (or to those who skipped past it, looking for a song that won't put them to sleep). Length-wise, Tetragrammaton can be described as no less than epic, clocking in at a mind-blowing 16+ minutes. While the length of the song might turn off some immediately, the song actually begins very solidly, with one of the coolest and most structured riffs on the album. While the Mars Volta have a tendency to let their songs get out of their own hands and become giant prog-rock nightmares, this song (for the first six minutes) manages to remain in control, and proves just what the Mars Volta can do: write epic progressive music.

Tetragrammaton is basically three tracks combined into one. The first part runs for almost six minutes, and is possibly the most solid display of talent the Mars Volta have ever given. The song contains everything a good prog song should, and featuring some new things to TMV, including ending vocals that would cause Freddie Mercury to suggest the lead singer loosen his pants. This is also the first song to use the band's new alternate style of vocals, which are featured on the chorus. They are squeaky and odd, but for the most part, they fit well. At 5:50, the song changes to the second part of the song, which is slower than the first part of the song, and contains a darker, echoing ballad sound. The main flaw in this part of the song is that it's just not very interesting. After more repeats of the chorus, we are treated to part three. The final part of the song mostly consists of TMV trademark noodling and an experimental jazz orgy. Yes, experimental jazz. This long overblown musical section kills any mood the song might have been setting up to that point.

The rest of the album goes through waves of powerful hard hitting prog-rock and dry self-indulgent religious mumbling. It's hard to comment on the rest of the album, because, frankly, I don't really care too much about it. Sure, Vermicide is a beautifully solid song that manages to stay under 5 minutes long, but it eventually becomes stale and uninspiring. By three minutes in, the song has dissolved into another chaotic section that screams "Hey, look, this song has vocal effects!" but nothing else. Althought compared to some of the other songs on this CD, Vermicide is actually a decent track. Meccamputechture starts off with a silly little rap, and begins fairly harmlessly, but after a while, we start to see through the mask of the song, and realize that it's just a repetitive 11 minute song that even lacks the basic musicianship that make TMV who they are. The drawn-out saxaphone/ambience section starting around seven minutes in is actually painful to listen to. "It lack a human pulse"? It lacks a goddamn sense of direction!

The album basically continues as thus. Asilos Magdalena is a quiet Spanish ballad that goes on too long for its own good. The song could easily have been ended four minutes in, but instead continues on for another two and a half minutes, and add in some irritating vocal effects that will make you wonder whether these headache-inducing sections in each song are purposeful. Viscera Eyes is the first single off the album, but it moves at a pace that wouldmake molasses blush, make this nine mintue song feel even longer. At the very least, the song contains somewhat coheesive musicianship, unlike most of the songs on the album, which end up going off on in random directions half the time. Once again, the band drags out a decent song too long, and end up making their own songs collapse upon themselves.

Day Of The Baphomets is probably the standout for me, because it manages to actually be listenable. The song is creative, and manages to take all the things that The Mars Volta stand for and use them well. Everyone performs beautifully on the song. Well, everybody but one person: Cedric. Yes, the lead vocalist, the lyricist, one of the driving forces of The Mars Volta, falls on his face on the song, and more noticeably, the entire album. While on previous albums his voice was a highlight, this time his voice wrecks the mood of the songs half the time. He tries too hard to hit blaringly high notes, and doesn't incorporate the emotion that De-loused (or even Frances) had. His voice just grates on all the wrong nerves, and is one of the reasons this album doesn’t live up to expectations.

While TMV have been known for epic ending tracks (Take The Veil Cerpin Taxt, Cassandra Gemini-Sarcophagi), this time they produce what may possibly be the worst song they have ever created. El Ciervo Vulnerado is slow, dull, grating, flat, boring, annoying, and goes on like this for nine minutes. There's not enough actual music on this track to consider it a real song, except for hints of unfinished guitar lines and repetitive saxophone blaring. It's mostly sweeping ambience that doesn't end up sweeping you up. Even the sitars don't help the song. It just winds on, and on, until it finally, and suddenly, ends. An unsatisfying end to a mostly unsatisfying album.

Considering the expectations I had for this album, Amputechture is a disappointment on so many levels. Besides DOTB, there really isn't a standout track, because all of the songs suffer from so many glaring weaknesses. I loved De-loused, and even Frances had its moments. Amputechture seems weaker than both albums on almost all levels. It could have been the highlight of The Mars Volta’s career. To me, Amputechture is just a sad reminder of what could have been.



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user ratings (1906)
Chart.
3.6
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Acre
September 10th 2006


847 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Ok, fanboys, ATTACK!!!

Yes, I wrote a negative review of Amputechture. No, I don't hate The Mars Volta, puppies, Jesus, or America. I just don't like this album. At all. Frances is an album I could listen to all the way through. Amputechture feels almost like a chore.

Anyways, this review was kinda one of those "Let's just get it over with" things. Not my best review, but, I feel, a neccesary one.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
September 10th 2006


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1 | Sound Off

This review really feels like you just pointing out things that you didn\'t like about the album. You didn't describe a lot of it very well, or at all. You honestly explained more when you were actually talking about the aspects you liked than when you were talking about what you disliked. Eh, whatever.This Message Edited On 09.10.06

Thor
September 10th 2006


10192 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Mad props for telling it like it is. I can't say that I'm that interested in this album.

Intransit
September 10th 2006


2797 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Im going to pull a chan just for the sake of it

Strike one

When I pop in a Mars Volta CD, I expect to immediately be pelted by balls-to-the-wall rock, not 7 minute ballads.

Why do you try to expect something from the Mars Volta? You sound like someone who would like Pennywise for making the same album every time

Strike two
Viscera Eyes is the album's official single, but moves at a pace that would make molasses blush.

not quite, and totally off base considering the abundance of ballads on this album

Strike three
While on previous albums his voice was a highlight, this time his voice wrecks the mood of the songs half the time. He tries too hard to hit blaringly high notes, and doesn't incorporate the emotion that De-loused (or even Frances) had. His voice just grates on all the wrong nerves

His voice is infinitely more emotional that it was on either previous outting. Oh and bad vocals on Mecca? Did you huff some glue and jam a fork in your ears?

overall, the review was blah. You said a ton of stuff without actually describing things well, which gives me the feeling that you may have not listened to this album very much before reviewing it. I wont neg it, for fear of being tagged a fanboy, but whatever.

south_of_heaven 11
September 10th 2006


5433 Comments


canyoneer, the first two points you made were accurate, as you based them up with facts about the band and album. EX: What you listed under strike two.
But you killed yourself with this:

His voice is infinitely more emotional that it was on either previous outting. Oh and bad vocals on Mecca? Did you huff some glue and jam a fork in your ears?

That's YOUR opinion. He has his own. Yours isn't any better than his.
And actually, this review is well-written IMO. Not the best, but it deserves far more than what most have given it so far.

Syncratic
September 10th 2006


756 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Not a very good review. You really were vauge in your descriptions. And if you really have expectations such as the ones you expected when you listen to the Mars Volta, that's very limiting.

Intransit
September 10th 2006


2797 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

[quote=south_of_heaven_11]That's YOUR opinion. He has his own. Yours isn't any better than his.

And actually, this review is well-written IMO. Not the best, but it deserves far more than what most have given it so far.
[/quote]

oh, I know, That was merely meant as a playful jab.

El_Goodo
September 10th 2006


1008 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I still need to listen to this? Is there any place I can listen to a stream of it? They usually have streams for a few days after the release on AOLMusic but I doubt they will for The Mars Volta.

El_Goodo
September 10th 2006


1008 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

...Listening to Vermicide it sounds like a pretty great album! ...But I've also discovered the release date is September 12th...how does everyone have this album

stinkypoptart
September 10th 2006


1169 Comments


i tried to get into this band but i just aint diggin 'em.

Acre
September 10th 2006


847 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

I didn't go into a lot of detail on a lot of the songs because, frankly, there's not a lot for me to talk about. To be perfectly honest, this whole review was labourious to write. The album is dry and without personality. And writing about it is like writing about burnt toast.

I'll admit, I could have gone into more detail on quite a few of the tracks. As I said, this definately isn't my best review, but I felt like showing what I thought of the album. I'm going back right now and editing a few things.

pixiesfanyo
September 10th 2006


1223 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

So what you're saying is you really like DiTC and FTM and you listened to this once and it wasn't like those albums so you got upset and wrote this review?

Acre
September 10th 2006


847 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Um, no. I liked De-loused, Frances was sorta average, but I could barely get through this album. And I didn't listen to this album just once. I listened to the leak many, many times before writing this. Even after weeks of listening, I still dislike the album. That's why I wrote this.

Oh, and the review has been edited. Hopefully it's better now.This Message Edited On 09.10.06

El_Goodo
September 10th 2006


1008 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I\'ve always liked Frances way more than De-Loused. The first thing I heard from the band was De-Loused and I didn\'t like them, then I heard the Widow off of Frances and I bought the album, and thats when my love for Mars Volta began. The tracks seem to blend together more on De-Loused I really couldn\'t name any of them aside from my favourite track Televators (also the most Frances sounding song).

And to above are you saying that you listened to the leak didn't like the album, and still bought the cd?This Message Edited On 09.10.06

pixiesfanyo
September 10th 2006


1223 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm guessing he probably reviewed the leak.

Shadius
September 10th 2006


203 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Bad review. He admits he hasn\'t given the album a chance in the begining. Give it a few months and see what people think, TMV is rarely music that people either love or hate right away.

Well, actually, people often hate it right away, but people tend to warm to it when they realise what the band is about.This Message Edited On 09.10.06

slack
September 10th 2006


249 Comments


[quote=el goodo]I still need to listen to this? Is there any place I can listen to a stream of it? They usually have streams for a few days after the release on AOLMusic but I doubt they will for The Mars Volta.[/quote]You can listen to the full album on their myspace. www.myspace.com/themarsvolta

I thought it was directionless at first, especially Tetragrammaton, but it's really growing on me now. Vicarious Atonement is effin amazing.

Intransit
September 10th 2006


2797 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

123

its a good album, but it will probably always be second to Frances. Sounds like growing pains to me, so hopefully their next album (due to be recorded in January accd to wiki) will have a bit more umph to it.

La Revolucion
September 11th 2006


1060 Comments


Yeah, it's just sort of OK.

stompybeardo
September 11th 2006


746 Comments


this album got good review from a lot of critics, maybe it just takes time, but usually if you think an album is awful then it just turns out to be...ok..



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