The Mars Volta

Octahedron

Written by: PP on 16/07/2009 06:15:28

Does it surprise anyone that The Mars Volta have changed direction yet again on their new full length album "Octahedron"? Gone are the polyrhythmic drums and experimentalist progressive guitars, replaced by much less ambitious instrumentation and a poppier songwriting platform that leans slightly back towards "De-Loused In The Comatorioum"-era, though without ever coming near it's explosive dynamics. Given the pop focus of the album, the lyrics have also become more sensible, which is an extremely strange change after the haunted "ouija board" theme of the predecessor album. Besides, there has always been a certain charm in having to look up words from Cedric's lyrics in a dictionary.

While some may cherish the exclusion of hyper intelligent songwriting from this record, the reality is that many of the songs are boring. What's the result when you remove both the avant-garde guitar work, the reasonably high pace, and the crazy time signatures from the drums, and replace them with a song writing approach that's based on a straight forward pop ballad rather than the Latino rhythms the band have been known for in the past? You guessed right, an album's worth of nothing saying songs with one or two exceptions ("Since We've Been Wrong" and the explosive "Cotopaxi").

I get it, I really do. Omar's musical creativity has no limits and since he's now written a post-punk album ("De-Loused"), a fully Latin American ultra-experimentalist & progressive record (the seminal "Frances The Mute"), a more accessible but somewhat too strange full length ("Amputechture"), and an album that combines all the others together into some of the band's best work to date ("Bedlam In Goliath"), he now wants to demonstrate that balladic pop is no problem for him either. That his partner in crime Cedric Bixler is such a versatile vocalist who is able to do all styles and then some of course helps his cause, but I find myself missing the explosive vocal/guitar/drum dynamics of all other The Mars Volta albums in the midst of the simplistic (for this band) soundscapes of this record. What I really want is for Omar to stop showing off and focus on writing the best possible album, preferably in the vein of either the previous record or the now-classic "Frances The Mute". This one just doesn't cut it.

6

Download: Since We've Been Wrong, Halo Of Nembutals, Cotopaxi
For the fans of: Sparta, Dredg, Tool, Cohed & Cambria, art-rock
Listen: Myspace

Release date 23.06.2009
Warner Bros

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