Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez of modern progressive rock group The Mars Volta follow no trends when it comes to their musical recipe. The group provides original sounds, unlike many others in the so-called experimental rock genre.
Amputechture is The Mars Volta’s latest effort. It is different enough to stand on its own but doesn’t stray too far from the band’s established sound.
Lead vocalist Rodriguez-Lopez has a tone similar to that of Gerard Way from My Chemical Romance. The instrumental background of the record sounds like a mellow concoction from a System of a Down project. Together, it might be music magic or music madness. It is not one of those sounds people are automatically drawn to. It is almost an acquired taste.
The record is an eight-track ball of lumped noise. One might think an album with so few songs is unfinished, but this is assuredly not the case. Seven of the eight songs are longer than six minutes, and the longest – “Tetragrammaton” – reaches an almost unheard of 17 minutes. It’s easy to get bored by the length, however, because the tracks tend to blend together. The common features that lead to this blending are, unfortunately, long, whiny and boring.
Lyrically, the songs are peculiar. Those who are not deep “soul searchers” and the philosophically challenged probably won’t get lyrics such as, “Glycerin and turbulence stuffed the voice inside God.”
The album is a 74-minute hypnotic song, which makes it great for naps. Do not listen while operating heavy machinery.
It’s a tough place out there for a rock star. People will eat a wannabe rock star/group alive. The Mars Volta is doing itself a favor by avoiding superstardom. If the band’s goal is to avoid the mainstream, they have accomplished it. At least they will never have the woes of real industry success.
It can’t be said that Bixler-Zavala and Rodriguez-Lopez are unoriginal. They are definitely doing their own thing. But perhaps next time, they can be original and fun to listen to at the same time.