The Mars Volta
Amputechture


3.5
great

Review

by Drbebop USER (54 Reviews)
January 11th, 2019 | 10 replies


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist

Review Summary: THE KIOSK IN MY TEMPORAL LOBE IS SHAPED LIKE ROSALYN CARTER

There’s a certain air to Amputechture that’s hard to pin down. The Mars Volta’s third album is in many ways several stops forward and a few steps back. While sonically not far off from their previous release, the monumental Frances The Mute, it feels considerably more restrained in places. Still, it’s what hardcore fans consider to be their last truly amazing record. Critics gave it fairly decent reviews (Except Pitchfork obviously) but has it stood up over the years"

In style, Amputechture feels more sonically similar to their debut record, De-Loused In The Comatorium yet still holds several similarities to its elder sister Frances The Mute. While the explosive over the top, dissonance heavy guitar riffs, crazed drumming and out of control lyrical content are all present and accounted for, the group have taken time to grace the record with a few more subdued track. The 7 minute opener ‘Vicarious Atonement’ is a ominous crawl, laced with whispy organs which compliment frantic guitar riffs from Omar. The eerie entirely Spanish sung ‘Asilos Magdalena’ sets a tense and haunting mood for the record. Similarly, the tabula flavoured finale ‘El Ciervo Vulnerado’ is nearly 9 minutes of haunting drones which steadily builds into a frenzy before abruptly ending mid bar. While they’re both solid tracks in their own right, they feel oddly undercooked which is odd given the group’s (Well... Omar mainly) perfectionist approach to arranging. They feel needlessly long at times. While the extreme lengths worked in Frances the Mute’s favour, here they feel oddly quite needless. Frances had maintenance sections, but that’s what they were. Sections. Ones that lasted say at max 3 minutes. These are full fledged songs. Still they’re both great tracks, although ones that drag a little too long.

The main centrepieces of the LP however throw subtlety out the window and go for an all out sonic assault (One which Q magazine described as sounding like ‘an explosion in a guitar shop’). The 16 minute monolith ‘Tetragrammaton’ is layered with blaring guitar riffs, vocal effects, saxophones and furious violent drum fills. Standing as the second longest track the group produced, ‘Tetragrammaton’ aims to be a sort of spiritual successor to ‘Cassandra Gemini’. However, it feels oddly quite unfocused in places. Cassandra was nearly 35 minutes long yet every piece felt memorable and structured. Here, the group devolves into incessant noodling in places where nothing significantly important or unique happens. Cedric’s lyrics reach the height of their sheer bizarreness (Just try snd figure out what “the kiosk in my temporal lobe is shaped like Roslyn Carter” means). Still it’s a solid and enjoyable track. Of similar style is ‘Meccamputechture’ which contains a hook surprisingly and some of Cedric’s strongest vocal work and the towering ‘Day of The Baphomets’ which features a duelling saxophone/guitar opening and a frenzied drum ending. Interestingly, both these tracks feel more focused and complete than ‘Tetragrammaton’ does, with tight arrangements and memorable vocal and guitar parts. The record’s crowing moments however are the dramatic ‘Vermicide’ which uses its relatively short length (around 5 minutes) to deliver one of the most theatrical and powerful tracks the group ever recorded and ‘Viscera Eyes’, a nine minute funk rock orgy of guitars and masterful vocal work. Every part feels complete, and none of it drags in the slightest. It’s heavy, funky and also fun!

So... Amputechture. Is it good. Of course it is. Great even. Damn, I’d say it’s even fantastic in certain spots. But it is a record brought down by a lack of focus in spots. The slower tracks are all stellar but drag in spots and ‘Tetragrammaton’ is more unfocused noodling than a fully fledged song. Still, the high points of this record are incredibly solid and some of the group’s strongest. A strong album but a slight let down from one of the best prog groups of the 2000s.

Standout tracks:

Vermicide
Meccamputechture
Viscera Eyes
Day of The Baphomets



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Comments:Add a Comment 
butcherboy
Contributing Reviewer
January 11th 2019


9368 Comments


uhmmm poo texture?

Digging: Julius Eastman - Unjust Malaise

SandwichBubble
January 11th 2019


8954 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Butch got those punches in quick, didn't even save any for me

Digging: Cassiber - Man or Monkey

Casavir
January 11th 2019


2957 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Their best alongside Deloused.

JohnnyoftheWell
January 11th 2019


12553 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Probs my fave from this band, Deloused was overblown and Francis was drawn out. Tetragrammaton and Baphomets jam

Digging: Melt-Banana - Bambi's Dilemma

butcherboy
Contributing Reviewer
January 11th 2019


9368 Comments


Sandwich, I’m checking Boa, that dig better be good, or you’re getting it..

CugnoBrasso
January 11th 2019


433 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

"it’s what hardcore fans consider to be their last truly amazing record"

Oh really? Sounds weird to me, since Bedlam gets so much more love and Amputechture is far from being considered "truly amazing".

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
January 12th 2019


8140 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This, Frances and Bedlam are The Mars Volta shit.

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Donchivo
January 12th 2019


733 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Baphomet and tetragrammaton are the jams... Asilos Magdalena is soo fucking hypnotic. This album deserves more love than it gets

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botb
January 12th 2019


12275 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Undeniably the most underrated TMV release

Bloma
January 12th 2019


19 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great review, I feel pretty similar to you in regards to this album and Frances.



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