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The Bedlam in Goliath

4.2 out of 5 stars 125 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

2008 album from the eccentric Alternative outfit. Fans of this American Progressive Rock band should expect the same thematic approach to storytelling as on their former records. This album chronicles The Mars Volta's time with the Soothsayer AKA the Ouija board owned by vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala, and its mutation from a source of amusement during the tour supporting the band's Amputechture album into a malevolent psycho-spiritual force that nearly tore the group apart, collectively and individually. The album's creation process was subject to "bad luck controversy" after the band's bizarre experience. The Bedlam in Goliath is their fourth full-length studio album. Produced by guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez with engineer Robert Carranza, 12 tracks. Universal.

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No one has ever accused the Mars Volta of subtlety. But even so, the cyclonic caterwaul of Bedlam in Goliath is the band’s fullest starburst to date. Sure, the songs have titles that seem indecipherable, from "Aberinkula" to "Conjugal Burns." The important thing, though, is the molten, guitar-spiraling, drum-thundering core at the heart of the whole endeavor. "Aberinkula" opens the album with an unfettered explosion of clustered guitars and a dense keyboard haze pierced by Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s coarse, pitched yowl. A scouring soprano sax solo cuts across the songs’s midsection, and that vibe spreads throughout Bedlam, but so does the most pervasive melding of herky-jerk rhythms, post-punk speed, uber-funk bass, and chaotic riffage that you’re likely to find in rock & roll. If it’s Bedlam you want, you can’t miss here. --Andrew Bartlett
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 29, 2008)
  • Original Release Date: January 29, 2008
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Motown Records
  • ASIN: B000ZK4466
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (125 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,547 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Scott Bresinger on January 29, 2008
Format: Audio CD
(The Bedlam in Goliath" by The Mars Volta)

On their fourth studio album, The Mars Volta have definitely decided not to take it easy. From the very moment it starts until its ending 75 (!) minutes later, the band works in full steam ahead hyperdrive mode, rarely stopping for breath. One could be halfway through the album before realizing the first track is even over. On the upside, it shows a band determined to prove they're now the hardest working men in show business; on the downside, the songs tend to blend together into a massive rush of LOUDERFASTERNOW!!! Although working with the same prog-punk blueprint they've been developing over the years, here they seem to reject the more jam-band approach of Frances the Mute or Amputechture. All of the songs on the new album fall below the ten-minute mark, which for them is concise (disgruntled fans of the first album may want to check this one out). Their love of latin rhythms continues, however, aided ably by new drummer Thomas Pridgen, who gives the impression he's actually two men. The twin guitar attack of Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and (former Chili Pepper) John Frusciante, while using every style they can think of (including feedback noise), here they at least stick to the song at hand. This is not to say they're not coloring outside the lines, but they play it at such light-speed that the impression one gets is of Miles Davis' On the Corner interpreted by meth-addled robots.
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Format: Audio CD
I'll give the Mars Volta this -- they can spin a concept album out of just about anything. In this case, a cursed/haunted ouija board from Jerusalem.

And their fourth full-length album "The Bedlam in Goliath" is a suitably haunted, demented affair with some vibrant moments buried in the crazy lyrics and tsunamis of distorted, chaotic hard-rock. It just grabs you and pushes you to the edge, with the force of its dense music -- and if you like it weird, it's a blast.

It starts off loud -- a blazing twisting bassline, hammering drums and Cedric Bixler-Zavala's howling vocals buried somewhere in the twisting melody. And it's folllowed the equally eruptive "Metatron," a swirling storm of clashing riffs and sharp drums... really, it's like an extension of the first song,

With the distorted buildup and electric riffs of "Ilyena," the Mars Volta try out some different sounds -- blazing droning tsunamis of twirling bass'n'guitars, epic rockers with the power of a sandstorm, landslides of sputtering hoarse riffs, howling psychedelica, wailing laments, and the tight, serpentine power of "Ouroborous."

Admittedly, the Mars Volta can't keep up this energy continually -- "Tourniquet Man" is a messy tangle of distortion, horns, halfhearted drums and a continuous drone of synth in the background. "Askepios" flirts with this sound, but is saved from total boredom by its louder moments.

The Mars Volta has been dabbling in this stuff for years now, though they stumbled with an album that was more about the weirdness than the music. Fortunately, while it has some limp moments, "The Bedlam in Goliath" is more about the eruptions of vaguely psychedelic, extremely uncatchy hard rock -- in other words, what they do best.
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Format: Audio CD
I've had this since it came out and only now do I feel like I know this album well enough to post a review - that's to say this album is hard work even for hardcore TMV fans. There's a lot going on here and most of it goes past really fast. Bedlam indeed.

Whereas their debut EP felt like an experiment, their masterpiece was "DeLoused" ...and "Frances" could have been edited with a very heavy hand; "Amputechture" then showed us what having one really great and catchy song (Viscera Eyes) could do to an album. Especially when this "Bedlam" album is a continuation of that frantic psychedelic style found on "Amputechture" but with no standout track. It's all just mental from start to finish! There are movements of chill and passages of calm but it's like one long twisty 75 minute journey. It's cool but it's very hard work... how on earth did they write this!?

For me, the highlight of this album is the awesome power they have given to the Bass Guitar. Stomping, funky, distorted wah-bass can be heard in the song 'Goliath and the songs 'Askepios and 'Agadez give us everything - deep rumbles nail the rhythm down, jazz parts weave around the guitars, flanged and chorused bass give atmosphere... for me, the bass is the one consistently fascinating element in this that keeps me listening. Check out the bass during the blissed-out section in 'Metatron grounding the rhythm, then the bass brilliance behind the resulting Rodriguez/Frusciante guitar duel.

Tomas Pridgen is no slouch either - He plays most of this at a million miles an hour - best showcased during the middle section of 'Ilyena. Cedric's lyrics are strange just like we've become accustomed to.

There are low points for me here.
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