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The Bedlam in Goliath
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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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not one of their strongest works. But that is just an opinion of someone who breathes music like air. I adore De-Loused In... and Frances the mute and ATDI.Published 5 months ago by Blake Nolan Hanson
It just doesn't stack up to their other albums, the vocals seem off to me.Published 14 months ago by Christian A. Trautman
Found this album on youtube and liked it so much I bought it...then got a copy for my Dad who is a big Steven Wilson/Porcupine Tree fan. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Ryan
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