Review Summary: Creatively this was the highest point in the band's career.
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 their 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 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.
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.
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 repeats 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, before 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 effect 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.