The Mars Volta - Octahedron
When Omar Rodriguez-Lopez called Octahedron the band's "acoustic album", it was both a literal and non-literal statement. Literal in the fact that, in terms of direction, it is far less bombastic and not as frenzied as their previous outings. Non-literal in the fact that it isn't acoustic at all. What The Mars Volta have done here is to distill their sound down to something more bare-boned than ever before, and in the process have created their most readily accessible product since Frances The Mute. Still progressive-minded, still aggressive in it's nature to overload the listener with ideas (but only half the time), eventually repeated listens will leave you satisfied and wanting more of this sort of balance in the future.
Opener and first single "Since We've Been Wrong" is as radio-ready a single the band could ever hope to produce, with melodically sound guitar leads pining for emotional impact alongside Cedric Bixler-Zavala's typically ambiguous lyrics. For the first time in what seems a lifetime, the band doesn't feel the need to expand upon a good song's worth of ideas with another batch of them and it leaves much more room for more common appreciation to be had. "Teflon" rock a bit more and to my mind has a bit of a Rush feel to it in spots, especially the drum progressions. The middle highlight, "With Twilight As My Guide", almost feels like a natural continuation of their old classic "Televators", and the atmospheric, hypnotizing guitar work is extremely pleasant if not a bit unsettling. The band set "Cotopaxi" as their first European single and it's short burst of hard rock is a great breath of air in the middle of longer epics.
Slowing things down and making more room for singular ideas to shine was something I personally always wanted to hear from The Mars Volta. As such my rating jumps a half-point. Otherwise the album is well done but nothing tremendously impacting; it's similar to certain moments in their past and doesn't offer much new from song to song. Only taken as a whole can you gain respect for the entire idea of the album, and it was a wise move to take this route at this time.
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on 2009-06-23 hstisgod Said:
Nice reviews Kev, suprisingly I'm digging what I've streamed so far.
on 2009-06-23 X_NaStY Said:
Heh, yeah like I said its normal relative to THEIR other stuff not most of the other stuff out there. Anyway, I agree with solitary in that it takes a few listens and an open mind to get into this album. If you're expecting something like Bedlam you might be disappointed, but I always like to see a band mix it up and in this case slow it down. It just goes to show the versatility of a band like this.
on 2009-06-22 KLee Said:
Lol brother the last thing I would call this or any other Mars Volta album is "normal"
on 2009-06-16 mountaloha Said:
Yeah, I just listened to the album yesterday and like X_NaStY said, it is very relaxed. I can't help but to want to hear more albums like Comatorium.
on 2009-06-16 X_NaStY Said:
I didn't even know these guys were coming out with something again so soon. I haven't really given it a full listen but from what I've heard it seems a little more relaxed and fairly "normal" compared to some of their other stuff.