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Mars Volta, The - The Bedlam in Goliath Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 7.5
Musicianship 10
Lyrics 7
Production 9.75
Creativity 9.5
Lasting Value 8
Reviewer Tilt 7.5
Final Verdict: 85%
Member Ratings
Vocals 8.4
Musicianship 9.22
Lyrics 8.18
Production 8.88
Creativity 8.93
Lasting Value 8.17
Reviewer Tilt 8.5
Average: 86%
Inside AP.net

Mars Volta, The - The Bedlam in Goliath

Reviewed by: Tony Pascarella (02/04/08)
The Mars VoltaBedlam in Goliath
Release Date: January 29, 2008
Record Label: Universal Motown Records

Love 'em or hate 'em, but The Mars Volta make some crazy music. They've burst back into the forefront of the music scene with their newest record, The Bedlam in Goliath. It's their fourth studio album, another highly-technical concept record, this one based off of the band's alleged battles with a possessed ouija board known as The Soothsayer. Musically, it seems as though The Mars Volta has gone a bit more mainstream, if that's possible, with the new CD. That's not to say it's a bad thing, but the continuing maturation process of the band seems to know no end, and they continue to work with many different styles of music and tweak what's expected of them by fans.

The layering on The Bedlam in Goliath is downright fantastic. Throughout most of the album, the band is able to maintain a working balance between Cedric Bixler-Zavala's quirky vocals, the shredding guitars (courtesy of Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, Paul Hinojos, and some kind-of-famous guest guitarist named John Frusciante), the well-represented bass lines, and Thomas Pridgen's excellent drumming without allowing any particular element to overwhelm another. An important point to note is that it might take a few songs to get into The Bedlam; in fact, the album doesn't seem to truly find its groove until the standout third track, “Ilyena.” The band brought in a new drummer, Pridgen, for this album, and he certainly seems to bring an intriguing dynamic to their music. On the aforementioned “Ilyena,” he offers a bit of a Caribbean or jazzy flair with his mostly fast-paced style of rolls and limited use of the bass drum. “Wax Simulacra” is the lead single from the album, and to be completely honest, it's one of the weakest all-around tracks. It seems like it might have been chosen just as much for its short runtime (2:39) as for its radio appeal. It is vocal-heavy and altogether forgettable. The funky, warbling guitar riff on “Goliath” infuses a shade or two of classic rock into the band's repertoire. It's musically accessible enough for casual fans but technical enough for the die-hards. The only real complaint with the song is that Bixler-Zavala's singing is rather (dare I say) bland at times.

Skipping the haunting yet mostly-faceless “Tourniquet Man,” the second half of The Bedlam in Goliath is pretty much on par with the first half in terms of standouts and clunkers. “Cavalettas” transitions back and forth between verses and the chorus (where Bixler-Zavala showcases two completely different deliveries), but after it happens a few times, the overall feeling is that they decided to jam a bit too long, and that some of the nine and a half minute track could have been cut for replayability purposes. Luckily, “Agadez” is there to pick up the momentum, with Thomas Pridgen again as the catalyst. Between the emphatic guitar battles, he and Bixler-Zavala are able to prove how well-orchestrated the song is. It doesn't dwell too long in one place, and “Agadez” is definitely a song you'll walk away from The Bedlam remembering. The rest of the album is a mixed bag, however. “Askepios” isn't anything to write home about, and it feels like it hurts the momentum of the album a bit. “Ouroboros” storms back with some tinges of thrash-metal (from the instruments, not the vocals), leaving a strong impression in the mind of the listener. The nine-minute “Soothsayer” walks through what sounds like a crowded marketplace and is highlighted by a vaguely Middle Eastern guitar attack, and “Conjugal Burns” features Omar Rodriguez-Lopez showing off some fierce guitar work on the album's closer.

So, how do you sum up a rather intriguing and complex album such as The Bedlam in Goliath? Those who had trouble getting into the band's earlier material will find the new songs more palatable, but at the same time, longtime fans may argue that it's not unorthodox enough. There are some standout tracks on The Bedlam (among them, “Ilyena,” “Goliath,” “Agadez,” and “Ouroboros”) but a few more that either fail to impress or simply don't remain memorable after multiple listens. I might be touching off a firestorm here, but it almost feels like Cedric's delivery has strayed a bit more toward that of Coheed & Cambria, losing some of its mostly-unique style in favor of accessibility or perhaps simply just a style change. Even if the band isn't as alone on their progressive rock pedestal as they have been in years past, The Mars Volta's The Bedlam in Goliath is a worthy addition to any music junkie's rotation, if only to prove that the contemporary music scene is far from stagnant.

Buy The Mars Volta's The Bedlam in Goliath on iTunes

Track List01. Aberinkula
02. Metatron
03. Ilyena
04. Wax Simulacra
05. Goliath
06. Tourniquet Man
07. Cavalettas
08. Agadez
09. Askepios
10. Ouroboros
11. Soothsayer
12. Conjugal Burns
Listen to The Mars VoltaMyspace | AP.net Profile | Official Site
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 56
03:44 AM on 02/04/08
#2
Praetor
as we melt, let's make no noise.
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The only thing I disagree with is that the album doesn't find its groove until Ilyena. The one-two punch of Aberinkula and Metatron pretty much MAKE the album for me. Also I wouldn't say his singing is bland, just that it's WAY higher than it was on Deloused, and, after watching multiple youtube videos of him live performing Bedlam songs, I can definitely say that it's too forced.

But great review, Tony.
03:51 AM on 02/04/08
#3
Tony Pascarella
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I have a feeling (not that I mind it at all) that a lot of people will either agree with this review or call me a bunch of names. It's a polarizing band.

For me, Aberinkula drags on a bit too long (although I love the chorus), and Metatron is not bad, although the second half of the song blows the first half away.

And his vocals are great on some songs and then other songs they just come across as bland comparatively. It's definitely one of the major things that bugs me about this album.
04:24 AM on 02/04/08
#4
tait
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great review. i have to buy this album
05:00 AM on 02/04/08
#5
dontthink
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good review. great album. amazing live band.
05:27 AM on 02/04/08
#6
yoyoninjagirl
Nobody's Nothing
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good review, I think it's time i give this album a listen.
05:32 AM on 02/04/08
#7
kjs7
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this band has tons of talent but all their records suck
good writing for the reviiew though
06:00 AM on 02/04/08
#8
airik625
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Awesome review. I am buying this today.
06:57 AM on 02/04/08
#9
Fades2Black
hard rocking all day long
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great record, agree with the vocals, they're just not how they used to be (De-loused). but honsestly nobody can say shit about this band until u see them live
07:28 AM on 02/04/08
deepsd
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this was alot better than their last release still not their best album but a really good one. i liked it. and good review as well.
07:44 AM on 02/04/08
Poochemist
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great record, agree with the vocals, they're just not how they used to be (De-loused). but honsestly nobody can say shit about this band until u see them live

Haha I remember seeing them live after De-Loused, and my mouth was agape the whole time.
07:50 AM on 02/04/08
cannibalgirl
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The only thing I disagree with is that the album doesn't find its groove until Ilyena. The one-two punch of Aberinkula and Metatron pretty much MAKE the album for me. Also I wouldn't say his singing is bland, just that it's WAY higher than it was on Deloused, and, after watching multiple youtube videos of him live performing Bedlam songs, I can definitely say that it's too forced.

But great review, Tony.

i completely agree, however theres no doubt that ilyena and goliath are the stand out tracks.
as a whole, this album is way better than amputechture. its great.
07:56 AM on 02/04/08
genericmadness
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I never thought I'd see a Mars Volta album get 7.5 for vocals
08:26 AM on 02/04/08
Jumpoff
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I agree with the review, aside from the fact that I actually really like Tourniquet Man. The album didn't start for me to Ilyena either, was surprised that pop matters had the completely opposite view on it.

I do think that Cedric was better on Frances and De-Loused, he is not as good as he used to be.
08:46 AM on 02/04/08
guitarnick20
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Definitely a well written review and I agree with a good majority of what was said/given points wise for the album. I think the vocals need to be categorized in two sections however: Melodies and Performance. Ceddy's performance leaves much to be desired but I think that his vocal melodies and harmonies are his best to date. They're really creative and blend a whole lot of genres while still making it all work together somehow.

The vocal performance on the disc becomes more standable and even enjoyable/likable after sustained listening. This album is definitely a grower...

If you don't like it though honestly, just listen to Thomas Pridgen's drumming, the man is a fucking machine. I think this album was something that could've been released prior to De-loused and Frances. It sounds like they've regressed back into ATD-I to me, which is totally a breath of fresh air I think. This album is just a lot of fun.
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