Review Summary: Clipside of the pinkeye flight,
I'm not the percent you think survives,
I need sanctuary in the pages of this book
From the ashes of At The Drive-In, Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodr√*guez-L√≥pez had big ambitions. At the very height of the popularity of their former Post-Hardcore-cum-emo group, the duo had left, citing boredom and ‚Äúcreative differences‚ÄĚ. What were these differences" Prog rock. With the rest of the band wanting to move towards a more stripped down sound, and Omar and Credric wanting to shoot for the moon, At The Drive In collapsed at the seems and from the remains emerged The Mars Volta. Their group‚Äôs first album ‚ÄėDe-Loused in The Comatorium‚Äô was wildly acclaimed but has it held up over the years"
Like the group‚Äôs later works, Deloused has a heavy focus on lengthy tracks, which sometimes descend into different genres like jazz or latin. Frantic, aggressive guitar riffs from Omar litter the record‚Äôs runtime, boosted by groovy almost funk rock basslines provided by Flea of Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Each song feels like it‚Äôs barely holding together at the edges, as the band pummels through the record‚Äôs ten tracks with such violent ferocity that for a minute, it almost seems like At The Drive In have made a new album. However, in sharp contrast to that group, Cedric‚Äôs vocals are now aggressively high pitched and soaring, each line hitting alarming highs amidst the explosion of guitars. In contrast to ATDI, where Cedric delivered an aggressive punk yell, here he‚Äôs oddly more soothing, despite being equally if not more aggressive in his delivery.
The surreal lyrics from At The Drive In return, however now they‚Äôre even more cryptic and layered. Lyrics still barely make sense, even after hours of analysis. Nearly every line is full of absurd prose, play on words or puns in different languages. Yet, somehow they connect. The record tells a surreal story of a man named Cerpin Taxt, based loosely on a friend of Cedric and Omar‚Äôs named Julio Venegas, who‚Äôs real life fate greatly mirrors that of Taxt. In the story, Taxt overdoses on a combo of morphine and rat poison, slips into a week long coma where he experiences a violent, mind bending trip before awakening to the outside world and throwing himself from an overpass into oncoming traffic. Like Taxt, Julio‚Äôs hard drug use led to him similarly committing suicide, throwing himself from an overpass. With his death still ever looming over the duo, forming the Mars Volta, which would allow them to further their musical ambitions, Omar and Cedric would craft De-Loused as the ultimate tribute to him. One which would be burned into time eternally, serving as a cautionary tale, a memorial and fantastic record all in one.
Each song is crafted excellently, with every note seamlessly falling into place, only boosted by Omar‚Äôs highly accomplished playing and the group‚Äôs nearly flawless rhythm section. Even the opening track, the short introduction ‚ÄėSon Et Lumi√®re‚Äô (French For ‚ÄėSound and Light‚Äô) is incredibly effective and oddly beautiful with a swirl of distorted electronics mixing with Cedric‚Äôs vocals to create a sort of electro Emo ambient track. The track explodes into the opener and arguably best track ‚ÄėInertiatic ESP‚Äô, which not only demonstrates the band‚Äôs violent aggression and Cedric‚Äôs vocals perfectly, but sets a gap between ATDI and Mars Volta. What starts as a furious post-hardcore frenzy descends into a Latin drum led section into an experimental guitar track with soft whispered vocals. It‚Äôs stunning and one of the most effective openings to any album I‚Äôve heard. Similarly, the finale ‚ÄėTake The Veil, Cerpin Taxt‚Äô features some of the most ATDI styles vocals the group set to tape. Other highlights include the 12 minute space rock exodus ‚ÄėCicatriz ESP‚Äô with its soaring high notes and rumbling funk, along with the haunting dirge ‚ÄėTelevators‚Äô and ‚ÄėTake The Veil, Cerpin Taxt‚Äô.
Is De-Loused perfect" Almost. While it‚Äôs expertly crafted and performed, there‚Äôs still a band trying to find its feet. The ending of ‚ÄėThis Apparatus Must Be Unearthed‚Äô is a distorted noise loop which drags a little too long, and the extended ambient section in the middle of ‚ÄėCicatriz ESP‚Äô gets a little dull after a while. The record is also brickwalled to hell and the subtly and dynamics of some tracks can be obscured in the mix (Thanks Rick Rubin!) Still these are very minor complaints on an otherwise nearly spotless record. A blistering start to one of the strongest Prog rock bands of the 2000s
Son Et Lumi√®re
Roulette Dares (The Haunt Of)
Drunkship Of Lanterns
Take The Veil, Cerpin Taxt