| If there's anything The Mars Volta should be remembered for, it is their absolutely unique, volatile, Latin-influenced progressive post-hardcore, though they are never confined to just that.
Their debut album was not just an experimental expansion of At the Drive-In; it was a monumental departure from straightforward music and lyrics that inspired bands of the millennium to venture into the abstract. Their second album, Frances the Mute, was a continuation of this new sound, though a bit less interesting in many opinions.
Amputechture, being the group's third studio album, shows few surprises at first glance: weird cover art, weird song and album names, long songs, long album, yeah we expected all of that. However, there are only eight tracks, yet a good 76 minutes of music.
A few listens will reveal that this album is perhaps the group's most consistent. Amputechture has a steady structure to it, with plenty of repetition and driving in of motifs.
Cedric's vocals have center stage, once again exploring ungodly ranges, tones, and different languages. Omar's guitarwork almost perfectly matches the impressiveness of Cedric's voice. His fingers never rest throughout the entire album, continually weaving countermelodies no one has ever imagined or attempted before. It's amazing what this man can do with standard tuning and one pickup, and of course a bunch of FX peds. He exercises plenty of effects, such as tremolo, wah-wah, and volume pedals.
In many of the songs new timbres and arrangements can be heard. You can also tenor saxes in several tracks, a stunning bass solo opens up the sixth track, and different types of percussion in "Day of the Baphomets." "Asilos Magdalena" is a Spanish guitar duet with Cedric singing. The album's closer, "El Ciervo Vulnerado," finishes with sitars. Take that, George Harrison. And I almost guarantee radio-play for "Vermicide," the album's shortest and most accessible piece.
This album demands more from both critics and fans. It is far too musical to be rejected as "nonsense," and far too complex to be reduced to "trippy shit." I believe most people will find this be a great improvement from Frances the Mute, as I did. I'd even say it's better than Deloused in the Comatorium, though not as groundbreaking. Any fans of "prog" will have no reason not to love this album.
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1) Vicarious Atonement
5) Asilos Magdalena
6) Viscera Eyes
7) Day Of The Baphomets
8) El Ciervo Vulnerado