Rantings, reviews and lists from a person who structures half his life around obsessing over music.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Mars Volta - The Bedlam In Goliath (2008)

2.5 ★/5.0 - 5.9

There is a lot to love about The Mars Volta: their sound, their style, their insane live shows and stage antics, their goofy afros, their drive to integrate prog, electronica and dissonance into punk, their knack for grasping Can-like grooves and bringing epic intensity to the forefront. The only thing that's frustrating about them is actually listening to them. Or at least on The Bedlam In Goliath it is. There definitely once was a time when they were the aural equivalent of ice cream for many (or, as on Amputechture, a tasty pastry). Unfortunately, Frances The Mute was around the time that half of those people decided that they tasted and looked more like broccoli. It's an interesting thing, how little kids interact with the strange-looking vegetable. A common reaction is to only eat the flower heads of broccoli and throw away the stalk. Similarly, Frances The Mute gave fans enough to bite into, but half the people who tried to get full stomach from it, just ended up with a nasty taste in their mouth.

The Bedlam In Goliath
may sound close to Amputechture, but it's disappointment is closer to Frances The Mute. It has it's share of heart-pumping peaks, but also too many dull valleys, plagued with angst-ridden, mind numbing sameness. Omar is still constantly dry humping his guitar, the band is still on a needlessly twisting, high speed chase to nowhere in particular and Cedric's lyrics are still poetic nonsense. "I've got a penis that could rip through the very fabric of time," is one of the few lines on the whole album that stands out from his usual projectile vomiting and it sadly illustrates just how striking The Mars Volta could be if they just put a little more of their power into actually engaging their listeners. De-Loused In The Comatorium took no prisoners and went straight for the throat, something that slithering tracks such as "Wax Simulacra", "Ouroborous" and "Goliath", do with ferocious results. But too often on this overlong mess, the band is overlooking their strengths in favor of a towering wall of auditory masturbation.

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