The Mars Volta - The Bedlam in Goliath

by Rich Morris Rating: Release Date:

The music of The Mars Volta is probably fairly routinely dubbed "out of this world", but on The Bedlam in Goliath, you can apparently take that as literal. A loose sort of concept piece concerning Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s dalliances with an ouija board, an occult device using which you contact spirits–-specifically, the titular 'Goliath’, whose pronouncements from beyond the grave inspired a lot of the album’s lyrics-–the fourth album from The Mars Volta finds them carving their particular niche ever deeper. The likes of "Wax Simulcra" are dynamic prog-rock jams characterised by Bixler-Zavala’s high, nasally voice, screaming saxophone, and guitar solos courtesy of Chili Pepper John Frusciante. "Cavalettas", meanwhile, features flourishes of flute. But if you’ve been worrying The Mars Volta’s voyage into the progressive is in some way at the expense of their straightforward energy, say a silent prayer for the arrival of new drummer Thomas Budgen, whose blend of technical prowess and hard hitting energy feels like a real shot in the arm; indeed, segments of "Agadez" could almost be the work of Cedric and Omar’s former band, Texas hardcore ensemble At the Drive In. Now that’s the spirit. –-Louis Pattison

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