A summation of an album that started off lame, and then became unlame through subsequent listenings.

I'm beginning to realize that The Mars Volta names songs and albums kind of like celebrities name their babies. They're strange, off the grid, and more often than not, they don't make much sense when attempting to put the titles in context with the rest of the work. Then again, I could just be off the wall wrong, and there could be some sort of substantial reason for these odd ball names that I have never even heard of. Octahedron, I'm assuming, is a shape. Not an eight sided shape, which is an Octagon. Although ... octa, suggests eight of something. Well, someone smarter than me will figure out what it is, and why it is named the way it is. I can say that Octahedron consists of eight tracks, most of them soft, slowly paced ballads that have mostly to do with loss, regret, and remorse. Strange, coming from a band who I am positively sure has written one of the sexiest songs of all time. At one point, I would have considered Cygnus ... Vismund Cygnus off of Frances the Mute the sexiest song of all time ... but I listened to INXS's Kick, the other day ... and ... Cygnus would probably rank among fifth or sixth when put up against the sexiness of that album.

This isn't about INXS, fool.

You're right. I apologize. This is about the latest from The Mars Volta, and it's a strange one, considering their last outing (last years' The Bedlam in Goliath) was, essentially, a nonstop metal marathon of some of the most ridiculous drum patterns, time signatures, and guitar riffs I've ever heard. It was pure madness. It's as if they made this album as a cohesive musical counter-argument to their last one, and I'd say that it expands the breadth of their musical abilities if nothing else. Not that it's a bad thing. I like that this band is more than willing to confuse and sometimes alienate their fans, and if there is anything to say about fans it's that most of them are hoping for the same album every time one comes out. Just listen to the Incubus 'fans!'

Add to the interview, the kind of music that these guys have played throughout the years. I've read on numerous occasions that lead guitarist Omar Rodruiguez Lopez, prefer to put his musicians through a recording session that does not allow the musicians to hear each other play. If one doesn't think too hard about where to start with an ambitious approach like that, I believe that it has worked so far. Especially on The Bedlam in Goliath. Yet, I am going to go ahead and figure that here, they took a step back and looked at what they have created so far, and went with something completely new. Here, as I've mentioned, you are going to find yourself floating through a whirlwind of different sounds and textures, all with the volume pretty low most of the time. It's an experience for those who are as dedicated to the band as they are, and with my sorry ass-kissing tendancies, I went right along with them for this new outing. At least, that's how it ended up.

You have a tendancy to do that.

Yeah, well I have a lot to say, and a horrible way of saying it. Octahedron requires a bit of fleshing out on my end, and I have to flesh out in as few sentences as possible. As I listened through this album the first time, I figured that it was a little boring and pedestrian. If The Bedlam in Goliath ran through Times Square with an AK-47 in an endeavor to defeat the final boss of the Earth with unlimited ammo, then Octahedron is a man in a business suit, walking from his cubicle in the Willis Tower, drowning himself in a bottle of Scotch, rethinking his life. Not kidding. The album starts off with one note that doesn't exactly build, but the volume increases into the first track, Since We've Been Wrong. This song, right off the bat, sends this band in a whole new direction. Zavala, who is known for his inaudible (add to the litter of a vocabulary only known to those who are interested in reading a dictionary) nasally squeaks, shreaks, and ... singing, sings with almost precise annunciation "Do you remember how you wore that dress?"

It's one of those moments when you realize that the band you've been listening to for years decides to make a dramatic turn. I remember the negative uproar over Linkin Park's Minutes to Midnight. An album that suggested a whole new turn for Linkin Park, and as it turns out, I liked that album WAY more when it first came out than as I do now. But the difference is, The Mars Volta has already established themselves as a band that takes a hell of a lot of risks by trying out new things. Some of their adventures fall flat. Others don't. Octahedron is more moody than rockin',(Since We've Been Wrong, Copernicus) and even when it is rockin', (Cotopaxi, Desperate Graves) it's still brooding. Who knows what was on the mind of these talented, talented musicians, but I can assure you that whatever they decide to do next will be ... different.

Rating

Category Comment Rating
Sound/Production A perfect balance of all instruments, and elements. 5
Presentation Thoughtful and challenging music and lyrics, but Zavala's inaudible voice makes it hard to understand what he's saying, and what he means by it. 4
Originality A very interesting turn for them. They've written songs like this before, but not to the degree of an entire album's worth. 4.5
Songwriting Very strong, and effective. Check out Copernicus for an interesting use of guitars and electronica. 4.5
Deathy/Heavyness If that's what you want, you won't find too much of it here. You'll dig Cotopaxi and Desperate Graves ... to a certain degree. 0.5
Isikins-Worthy I'm starting to think that this box doesn't matter. But I saw it here so I figured that I might as well make it something. No ego trip. And yes it is, completely. 5
Final Verdict: 3.92

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