A summation on what is to one day be the record that unites us all as an single earths. Also Thomas Pridgen is a motherfucking drum machine!
This is the second review I have written for The Mars Volta, a band whose gifts and talents are unparallelled. Unlike the last review, however, I think it is time that I finally write one that focuses on the songs as a collective, as opposed to just one song in particular. I can say this, though. While their song 'Cygnus ... Vismund Cynus' off of Frances the Mute may be the result of several instruments involved in group sex, The Bedlam in Goliath could be the exact opposite of musical love-making. I wouldn't even drab it under immenent rape and pillaging of the ears because, well, The Mars Volta can only be summed up as a band with enormous talent. It doesn't take a talented person to commit serial rape ... and as long as we're making tasteless jokes about ruining lives, it doesn't take a talented person to commit serial murders either.
One night while I was watching American Idol(shutup) Kara DioGuardi critiqued a contestant with a horrifyingly superficial, "we didn't get to know you while you sang that. We want to know what it's like to hang out with you, we want to know what it's like to go shopping with you ..." and while I like American Idol(seriouslyshutup) I really have always hated that sort of superficial "we want to get to know you" assessment. It's never about knowing the person because we're too busy listening to the person. Strange enough, one of my several attractions to the band Incubus is that I feel as though I know every single member of the band. Brandon Boyd gets a special mention (as usual) because as the singer, he must wear his heart on his sleeve, however unwilling he may be. And that, my friends, is the nature of music. When you create music, you are telling other people about yourself. Like or not, Rawrb says many, many things about himself through the music of Psychostick. What that he is saying could be anything really, and I have my own ideas on what may be happening, but I think that for the most part I'll just leave it up to you. But, take a listen to Orgasm = Love and tell me what you think. :)
Anyways, the point here is that through the masterful collection of music known as The Bedlam in Goliath, you don't so much get to know what it's like to go shopping with these guys so much as you get to ... know what it's like ... to go ... murdering with these guys. There are two ways to kill it: There is the Good way, and there is the bad way. That was the status quo before The Mars Volta hit the scene with this album and pretty much melded the two in blissful sin. It's almost as though they blended sex and murdering into one entity, which somehow co-exsists in whatever dark fantasies we harbor within ourselves. Why do we like bad things? We like bad things because they are oh so good. Why else do you think Javier Bardem won an Oscar for playing Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men? Oh, and never fear. I promise that my next review will have absolutely NOTHING to do with The Mars Volta. Sadly, I left my notes in the truck and I must excuse myself for a moment to go out and get them. So, if you must, please get up and go do some stuff for a little bit. It's okay, I won't be gone long.
Okay, I'm back. Who is ready for the rest of this shit?
There really is no limit to the amount of creativity shown in the musicality of this album. Rolling Stone mentioned the album's sort of psychosocial lust for blood, and in actuality, the drive for blood is deep. The first track, Aberinkula blasts out of the starting gate at breakneck speed as though the cops had just shown up to the latest, freshest kill, and they really need to get their asses out of there. For me, things got really, really interesting around the third track of the album, Ilenya, which is sort of a semi-hip hop sexrock song. If Aberinkula was running away from a fresh kill, and Metatron was the great escape from the cops, Ilenya is the five-minute, seemingly misplaced sex scene. It's the kind of sex scene that mirrors the one from Watchmen, except with much better music and the actual feeling of 'jesus christ, these people are crazy.'
While I am on the topic of Ilenya, I might as well add that the new recruit, drummer Thomas Pridgen, lays down a drum track so deliciously violent and pathological that it would almost make sense that during the love making, an entire slaughter was taking place next door by the rest of the band. Here is how I figure: You have singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodruiguez - Lopez laying down a groove so saucy and so smooth that it would fit right in to the sensuous moments after picking up a beautiful girl at a bar. Thomas Pridgen could have played innocent, modest drummer and melded his drum patterns with the groove at hand. He doesn't. Pridgen, instead, almost makes the song his bitch. While Zavala and Lopez sex it up, Pridgen tears it down and stabs it with his drum sticks. The solos penetrate the sound, but not to the point of distraction, but to a point to where the juxtaposed sounds make sense together without getting too bizzare.
The tracks move into the grammy winning Wax Simulacra and my favorite track, Goliath. They continue the onslaught and 'murder,' that we have been witnessing, but it's almost gleeful in that hearing it makes you so happy. How happy did you feel when Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight slammed that pencil through the random gangster's eye? Did you storm out feeling that the very basis of human life had been severely violated? Or did you react with a quick "gaaaawh!" followed by monumentous laughter and cheering? If you're anything like me, the latter is the overwhelming answer.
As you listen to all of these tracks, perhaps a few other big time bands enter your mind. With The Mars Volta, in most cases, I always feel like Zavala channels Geddy Lee of Rush, Lopez pays homage to Jimi Hendrix, and the rest of the band is basically the bastard child of Carlos Santana and Led Zeppelin. You may not agree with me on the assessment that they bare some serious creativity, but the combo of Rush, Hendrix, Santana, and Zeppelin are such huge comparisons in the scope of musical history that it just can't be ignored, and the band couldn't be more talented and ambitious. As I said, this album is complete and utter murder pretty much all of the time, and when the music breaks down and rebuilds over and over, you are compelled to run with it. As I understand it (because I have yet to hear Deloused in the Comatorium and Amputechture) The Bedlam in Goliath is a dive off the deep end for The Mars Volta, musically and lyrically. I'm not sure what that says exactly, but I can only add that The Mars Volta has always gone off the deep end, so an innovating and adventurous album shouldn't really be a surprise.
Other noteworthy tracks of intense, murderous musicality are the tracks Cavalletas and Ouroboros. Cavalletas is almost genecidal in it's execution. The intro is nothing but a quick ambiance which is basically disintegrated by mini-gun fire through Pridgen's frantic machine gun paradiddles. This is the start of a massive war ... this is the opening song to Braveheart. Ouroboros is a quickly paced latino rock song that was pretty much written by Commander Reilly while you were out saving her commandos from Supermutants. Actually, no ... she wrote the song, recorded it, and put it in your pop-boy before you head out to the Capital Wasteland. The song is consistent, relentless energy that would take only a Super Mutant Behemoth to stop. Too bad Super Mutant Behemoths suck and can be killed with one missle launch to the face! Pwn3d!
Apparently, The Bedlam in Goliath was inspired by a string of terrorizing events sprouting from an adorable Ouiji Board Omar Rodruiguez - Lopez found in Jerusalem somewhere. Honestly, I blame the opioids ... even though they quit the opioids after Deloused. There is a horrible joke any Mars Volta fan with an understanding of their history will not appreciate. Yet I publish it. Jesus God in Heaven what the hell is wrong with me? Well ... let's look at it this way: Johnny Depp was very, very good friends with River Pheonix before he overdosed at a party. Johnny Depp went on to film Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which is essentially a gigantic adventure through a field of ether bunnies. Diagest that and try not to have nightmares ... or awesome mushroom trips in Vegas ... like Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen. I guess that doesn't really offer any kind of excuse for being a jerk. Sorry Mars Volta, I didn't mean to be a douche bag. Forgiveness? Please?
Hows about I shower you with loving complements? How about I talk about the lyrics in your songs on The Bedlam in Goliath and tell the world (or whomever reads this here blog ... I suspect not many) how, while they are metaphorical, complex, and weird, they somehow are able to dissect the scattered thoughts of a human being who is suffering the most laden of jealousies? Sure, it's all my perception of the lyrics, and I have no idea what went through your brains during the writing of this album, but when I read lyrics, I easily make up my own meanings. The song, Goliath, at first struck me as a song about the evils of sexual abuse, until I was actually able to get my hands on the lyrics themselves. It was almost cute the thoughts that went through my mind, but never fear Prog Rock entrepreneurs! They are emotions everyone has when that assfuck gets that god damn promotion you were so desperately hoping for, or that douche bag scrotum eating baby eater got the cute girl you were eyeing for months on end, waiting for the right time to make a move. The Goliath, so to speak, is the representative of that specific obstacle we all must muscle ourselves over to get what we want, and that obstacle we must muscle over is some douche bag who has collected what rightfully belongs to us. I know that feeling. Maybe I know it all too well and can only fathom the lyrics in my own little world of nonsense. Plus, the lyric 'does he make you feel alright,' has been used and varied in other, much more straight forward songs that are clearly about the jealousy one feels when the right one is stolen away. But there is more to it than just realizing the dickery of one person in Goliath. There is also the pathetic feeling of one who not only realizes the triviality of it all, but the secret embarassment of actually letting such a petty emotion get to you so strongly. Sure, I've been extremely jealous of other guys getting the pretty girls, but it really is through no fault of anyone but the person who waits too long to take action. Thus, the hurdle, the Goliath you must defeat is whatever it is that's keeping you from the things you want.
I love Goliath in particular because it's a song about unweilding jealousy and the inability to figure out what to do with yourself and your misguided self-pity. Which makes me wonder? Does Goliath represent the feelings of the writer, or is the writer satirizing all of those who actually go through the feelings of self-doubt and self-pity, begging them all to grow a pair and act like a man? Either way ... that song is so fucking awesome that it doesn't even matter! Honestly, I would consider (since he is a rock star and all) Cedric Bixler-Zavala to be one hell of an extrovert to use his musical genius to guide his music and lyrics to some off-kilter places, so I am gonna go ahead and assume, should my assessment prove correct, that Zavala is making fun of the 'nice guy.' Which makes the song even BETTER!
But enough about Goliath ... because there are so many other beautifully placed lyrics throughout the album that it is impossible to zero in on one. Unfortunately, your attention spans have probably dissipated right now, and I'm assuming that if you've made it this far, you either really, really like The Mars Volta, OR, you are my little brother Seanny who I don't hear from enough and who needs to call his brother because he's bored in this one horse town with not a lot to do. Speaking of which, I just realized I really, really need to call Mitch at the Academy of Arts University in San Francisco because if I don't get that tour date appointment in, then I am going to be one seriously injured puppy! I wanna be a writer, GOD DAMMIT! And I refuse to turn to journalism because I couldn't get the tour date in on time! Journalism ... you're gonna be my bronze medal no matter what! Bitch.
Not that it really matters, but I bet those of you who have made it this far into the article is curious to know how accessible this album is. Well, it may be a little more accessible than any Psychostick album, but no more accessible than any Rush or Styx album. Which means that they really aren't as approachable as most bands are. They haven't hit platinum with any of their records yet, which I actually think is a pretty cool feat because that means that The Mars Volta, until these reviews, of course, is my little secret I can hold on to until they release that ultimate love song of love songs and they go bigtime and become the next Nickelback (in which event I will have to off myself last Thursday.) In any case, The Mars Volta isn't for everyone, and that goes especially for The Bedlam in Goliath. I have many a friend who believe to the core that they are into some weird, interesting and new rock and roll music, but the aggressiveness and inventiveness in this album proves to be a hard pill to swallow, even for them.
Still, they are a breath of fresh air in a world dominated by horrible music(Maroon 5)
|Sound/Production||Pretty close to being perfect. The balance can get a little overwhelming giving how many instruments and sound effects they have going on ... often all at once.||4.5|
|Presentation||Perfect. Every single song is made up of pure, relentless murder. And when I say murder ... I mean taking life.||5|
|Originality||You won't find a more original band than The Mars Volta. They take inspiration from other artists, sure, but they meld them together into a sound that stands on its own as original pieces of music.||5|
|Songwriting||Fishy, but creative. I'm not sure that I'm totally buying the whole 'inspired from crazy Ouiji Board shit' story. Interesting and openly interpretive lyrics, though. :)||4|
|Deathy/Heavyness||This really isn't a band that is deathy, but the heaviness is there. I'd even go as far as saying that they are a younger version of Rush in terms going heavy with out putting on the "heavy act."||4.5|
|Final Verdict: 4.6|