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The Mars Volta - Amputechture

The Mars Volta, Amputechture

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

THE Mars Volta’s third album Amputechture marks the first time that Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala have created a piece of work without a single unifying narrative.

The essential creative process remained the same – Omar creating the music (including the horn sections) for Cedric to lyricize, only this time with the freedom to document unrelated stories, vignettes, inside jokes, various people and even memories.

The result is a curious listen – progressive in the same way that all of their work has been, yet frequently disjointed.

It’s notable for including the presence of mercurial Red Hot Chili Peppers’ guitarist John Frusciante, as well as marking the departure of drummer Jon Theodore, who announced his intention on the eve of the album’s planned release in August.

Recorded in Los Angeles, El Paso, and Melbourne, Australia, the album is certainly an extravagant affair that lasts over 70 minutes in spite of possessing just eight tracks.

Yet given that efforts like Tetragrammaton last a mighty 17 minutes in total, perhaps we should be glad of such a small number.

For while undeniably brilliant in places – largely because of the clever mix of punk and Latin influences – the album as a whole feels hopelessly self-indulgent and a touch too experimental.

As good as moments of Tetragrammaton are, the track tends to get lost in itself and feels quite bloated and excessive come the end.

At its best, the album puts forth rousing efforts such as Viscera Eyes, a heady mix of Zeppelin-inspired guitars and vocals with some traces of the Chili Peppers.

It still lasts over nine minutes (in album form) but some of its riffs are genuinely thrilling, while the vocals are powerful and strong.

The Latin-flavoured acoustic guitars and vocals of Asilos Magdelena also mark a refreshing change of pace, showcasing The Mars Volta at their most sensitive and tender. It’s a beguiling record that slow-builds towards a guitar crescendo that is utterly inspiring.

Sadly, the remainder of the tracks struggle to realise such potency – possibly because of their length, but more probably because each one struggles to realise the sum of its many parts.

It’s an epic return for The Mars Volta that’s certain to delight fans rocked by news of Theodore’s departure and still basking in the glory of the acclaimed Frances The Mute.

The presence of the excellent Frusciante may even lend it wider appeal, especially since the Volta will be joining the Chili Peppers on tour in November, but for all of its endeavour and in spite of its moments of brilliance, Amputechture simply doesn’t cut it as a finished article.

Its disappointments outweight its successes and the overall effect is more frustrating than enjoyable.

Track listing:

  1. Vicarious Atonement
  2. Tetragrammaton
  3. Vermicide
  4. Meccamputechture
  5. Asilos Magdalena
  6. Viscera Eyes
  7. Day Of The Baphomets
  8. El Ciervo Vulnerado

  1. I completeley agree with this article, I too found their latest effort dissapointing after waiting so long. They should have have cut all the nonesensical, non-musical guitar parts, and gone toward de lousedand developed songs, rather than moving in the complete and utter opposite direction. I hope they release a new album, though still quirky, but with a cut on the sound scape. Perhaps Omar should leave the production to Rick Rubin again also?

    Oli    Sep 14    #