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Mars Volta, The - De-Loused in the Comatorium Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 9.25
Musicianship 9.5
Lyrics 8.5
Production 8.75
Creativity 9
Lasting Value 8.75
Reviewer Tilt 8
Final Verdict: 88%
Member Ratings
Vocals 9.98
Musicianship 9.89
Lyrics 8.66
Production 9.8
Creativity 9.86
Lasting Value 9.57
Reviewer Tilt 9.55
Average: 96%
Inside AP.net

Mars Volta, The - De-Loused in the Comatorium

Reviewed by: BrokenMirror (01/06/08)
The Mars Volta - De-Loused in the Comatorium
Record Label: Gold Standard Laboratories / Universal Records
Release Date: June 24, 2003


"Now I’m lost"

Whether you love them or hate them, you have to respect The Mars Volta. Since their debut in 2002 they have turned heads, polarized extensively, toured with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, lost a band member to a heroin overdose, sold over a million records, been dubbed the “modern Pink Floyd,” and have released four studio albums, the first of which is De-Loused in the Comatorium, released in 2003. A concept album, De-Loused tells the story of Cerpin Taxt, a man who tries to kill himself by overdosing on morphine and puts himself into a coma. During the coma he has many bizarre visions revealing personal truths on humanity, which distresses Taxt so much that when he awakes from his coma, distressed beyond condolence at the state of his life, he jumps off a bridge into oncoming traffic. A chilling story with an unusual narrative, the story is so hidden beneath Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s metaphorical lyrics that it takes a considerable amount of investigation to discover Cerpin Taxt’s true story. Regardless of the underlying narrative, De-Loused in the Comatorium is not an album that should be taken lightly. This hour long, 10-track disc is so full of complicated instrumentals, boisterous melodies, and dark beauty that it may take several listens before the true excellence of the album comes to the forefront. To put it bluntly De-Loused in the Comatorium is a challenging and initially frustrating album, but ultimately it is thoroughly rewarding.

"Exosketal junction at the railroad delayed"

The range of songs on the disc is significant; “Son et Lumiere” and “Tira Me a Las Aranas,” both clocking in at around 90 seconds, are essentially song interludes designed to give the listener a break from the more lengthy compositions. The former works extremely well as the album introduction, feeding brilliantly into the pulsating “Inertiatic Esp,” whereas the second is a sluggish and unnecessary composition full of ambient noises that add little if anything to the value of the record. “Inertiatic Esp” and “This Apparatus Must Be Unearthed,” the two shortest “full songs” on the disc, are about as close as The Mars Volta come to reminding listeners of the work of their previous band, post-hardcore mavericks At the Drive-In. Both tracks are packed with plenty of wallop with churning guitar riffs, crashing percussion, and a sense of urgency and passion that is more than a little reminiscent of their former incarnation. “Inertiatic Esp” is easily one of the album’s standout tracks; moving at breakneck speed, the track presents a wonderful dynamic energy and shows off the band’s undeniable musical talent. Bixler-Zavala’s vocals are at their best on the chorus, and the lyricism on the track is outstanding. “This Apparatus Must Be Unearthed” on the other hand falls more flat; while still possessing an earnestness and dynamic feel, here the brilliant shine of “Inertiatic Esp” is replaced with a blustering rambling feel.

"Nobody is heard, rowing sheep smile from the dead"

“Cicatraz Esp” and “Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt” present The Mars Volta at their absolute worst or their absolute best, depending on your standpoint. Lengthy, full of instrumental and ambient stretches and packed with experimental instrumentals, they are easily the two most difficult tracks on the record. “Cicatraz Esp” begins simply enough, and for the first four minutes or so sounds like a normal track (which is a loose term when it comes to The Mars Volta). However soon after comes an instrumental stretch packed with virtuous guitar strumming, soon followed by a long stretch of ambient noises which feeds into a second longer and more vibrant instrumental stretch before leading back into the original part of the song for the climax. The formula is an interesting if a little unconvincing one; the opening and ending of the song is absolutely fine, and there is plenty of joy to be earned from the jam session like instrumental stretches, but the stretches, especially the ambient stretch, are simply too long. At thirteen minutes the song feels drawn out, cumbersome and exhausting. There is certainly enough musical virtuosity in the track to save it from being wretched, but it is certainly nowhere close to the territory of masterpiece that the band were probably hoping to achieve with the song. “Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt” follows a similar formula, but at four full minutes shorter the song feels less exhausting. Again, there is plenty of musical brilliance here to make the track worthwhile, and the crescendo in particular is a moment of sheer musical genius, but as a whole the composition is not quite as effective as the band intended it to be.

"Evaporated the fur, because it covers them
If you only knew the plans they had for us
"

“Roulette Dares (The Haunt of)” and “Televators” both demonstrate the band’s more melodic side; whereas “Roulette Dares” alternates between fast chunky stretches and slow breathy stretches, “Televators” is almost a ballad. “Roulette Dares” possesses a strong vibe, particularly on the impassioned chorus with Bixler-Zavala’s voice bleeding through the speakers. The song may be a little uneven at times but it is certainly not a track to be overlooked. “Televators,” possibly the most effective song on the album, is very atmospheric and beautiful; mostly acoustic, the track, perhaps because it describes the most emotional part of the story just before Cerpin Taxt jumps to his death, has an element of sorrow and regret to it and is undeniably haunting and brilliant.

"Beyond the anthills of the dawning of this plague, said I’ve lost my way"

“Drunkship of Lanterns” and Eriatarka” are almost a combination of the three previous song styles. “Drunkship of Lanterns” is vibrant, frenzied and has a distinct Latin and jazz influence. The track does possess a beauty of sorts but it’s also somewhat chaotic, so full of complicated riffs, unusual effects and pulsating percussion that it is almost explosive. “Eriatarka” follows more of a classic arena rock element than the Latin flavor. The verses are harmonious as multiple guitars cascade over Bixler-Zavala’s fervent voice, but when the blistering chorus kicks in the track reaches a whole never level. The track maintains this alternating dynamic brilliantly and is packed with radiant guitar rhythms and some of Bixler-Zavala’s best vocal work. It is easily one of the album’s standout tracks.

"Pull the pins, save your grace
Mark these words on his grave
"

De-Loused in the Comatorium is best summarized as frustratingly brilliant. There is certainly a great deal of musical genius to be found, from Omar Rodriguez-Lopez’s amazing guitar work, to Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s hauntingly seductive voice, to the strong contributions from Red Hot Chili Peppers’ members Flea and John Frusciante. However, it is also a very difficult album. The Mars Volta’s attempts to create a brilliant dynamic experimental album of prog rock genius by expanding and ruminating over every track have created an album packed with moments of undeniable excellence, which would be fine if this wasn’t diluted by the occasional unevenness and audacity of the music. In a way The Mars Volta have tried so hard to push the boundaries of music that they occasionally push it a little too far to places it probably never should have gone, leaving behind a bemused somewhat underwhelmed audience. There is also a significant self indulgent quality to the music; at times Rodriguez-Lopez seems to almost me allegorically masturbating with his guitar. However it is this self indulgence and this experimentation that almost adds to the album’s charm, almost as if De-Loused in the Comatorium's greatest flaw is its own genius. The record is certainly not for everybody, and it will take several listens for the music to truly make an impact, but there is no denying that for all the unabashed arrogance and pretentiousness of the music, the album possesses an unbridled amount of creativity, passion and musical superiority. Whether you think its ostentatious or genius, it doesn’t really matter; what cannot be argued is The Mars Volta are an extremely talented, passionate, and creative band, and of their discography, De-Loused in the Comatorium is the best example of their musical strengths.

"Who brought me here? Forsaken, deprived and wrought with fear
Who turned it off? The last thing I remember now
Who brought me here?
"
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 19.
07:37 AM on 01/13/08
#2
Machu505
yep
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Frances the Mute > De-Loused

You still gave it to low of a score.
09:59 AM on 01/13/08
#3
BrokenMirror
R.I.P. Richard Wright
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i know there are gonna be a lot of people that dont like the score i gave this CD, and i completely understand. so let me just explain my position. i dont think there is any doubt that there are plenty of moments on this album which are totally genius. but there are certain parts of the disc that i just could not get into (most of Cicatraz Esp, This Apparatus..., parts of Take the Veil). i think i scored the album fairly; while theres no question its a great record there are too many irritating or pretentious moments for me to justifiably give it 90+. thats why if you look at the actual scoring, all the real musical categories are in the area of 9, whereas the reviewers tilt is relatively low. thats just me expressing that i think this is an excellent record, but i personally do not think it is one of the great albums of the 2000's. if you do, great, good on ya, and there are many worse albums that have been as highly rated as De-Loused, but this is me giving my opinion

i tend to feel this way a lot about TMV. i really enjoy the music and think its brilliant, but i just dont feel the same connection i feel when i listen to Circa Survive, Thrice or dare i mention At the Drive-In. maybe just coz i think the band take themselves too seriously. i just feel like TMV are like the Dallas Cowboys; very easy to respect, very difficult to like
11:56 AM on 01/13/08
#4
Praetor
as we melt, let's make no noise.
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This was a great review, incredible album. I'm also glad you mentioned how useless a song Tira Me A Las Aranas is.
07:07 AM on 01/14/08
#5
Adrian Villagomez
West of the World
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i know there are gonna be a lot of people that dont like the score i gave this CD, and i completely understand. so let me just explain my position. i dont think there is any doubt that there are plenty of moments on this album which are totally genius. but there are certain parts of the disc that i just could not get into (most of Cicatraz Esp, This Apparatus..., parts of Take the Veil). i think i scored the album fairly; while theres no question its a great record there are too many irritating or pretentious moments for me to justifiably give it 90+. thats why if you look at the actual scoring, all the real musical categories are in the area of 9, whereas the reviewers tilt is relatively low. thats just me expressing that i think this is an excellent record, but i personally do not think it is one of the great albums of the 2000's. if you do, great, good on ya, and there are many worse albums that have been as highly rated as De-Loused, but this is me giving my opinion

i tend to feel this way a lot about TMV. i really enjoy the music and think its brilliant, but i just dont feel the same connection i feel when i listen to Circa Survive, Thrice or dare i mention At the Drive-In. maybe just coz i think the band take themselves too seriously. i just feel like TMV are like the Dallas Cowboys; very easy to respect, very difficult to like
Where did the Cowboys jab come from?
06:51 AM on 01/16/08
#6
BrokenMirror
R.I.P. Richard Wright
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Where did the Cowboys jab come from?

good to know im not the only one who was pissed off and disappointed on Sunday...
11:17 AM on 01/16/08
#7
chandler7287
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this album is pure brilliance
04:12 PM on 01/17/08
#8
YouVandal422
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Amazing album
10:29 AM on 01/24/08
#9
deepsd
pauldrakedsd
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good review. some of it was not what i would have said but this is deff. the mars volta's best album hands down and an album everyone needs to own.

-paul drake
12:08 PM on 01/30/08
Fades2Black
hard rocking all day long
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One of the greatest albums of this generation. It dosent matter if its not your kind of sound. The talent and genious here are without a doubt extrordinary and they continue to come up with even more creativity with every record. Pure Brilliance.
08:45 AM on 06/30/08
Jesse SD
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Awesome review man
07:59 PM on 09/16/08
Kid B
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Frances the Mute > De-Loused

You still gave it to low of a score.
I am quoting this so you will see it.
01:09 PM on 09/17/08
Machu505
yep
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I am quoting this so you will see it.

Oh my god why did I ever say that.

Fuck my old self.
06:27 PM on 10/14/08
TimT
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This album is perfect.
05:45 PM on 03/04/09
buzzhannahbuzz
So I destroyed a monument, so what?
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Amazing review, I couldn't agree more.
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