The Mars Volta | The Bedlam in Goliath (Universal)

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cd_mars-volta.jpgThe Bedlam in Goliath is The Mars Volta's way of counteracting Soothsayer's evil curse by way of disseminating its power to the listeners.

 

 

 

 

 

 

"You better not talk if you're here for semantics. It's only a matter of time and space before I become your epidemic."

These words, pulled from the lyrics of The Bedlam in Goliath's tenth track "Ouroborous," capture a great deal of the emotions behind the album. Immediately striking in its originality and solid groove, The Mars Volta's fourth full-length album combines progressive rock with a healthy infusion of funk and Middle Eastern elements. The result is an epic masterpiece destined to become one of the most memorable albums of the year.

According to the album's press kit, a mysterious object known as the Soothsayer almost resulted in the project's termination. An Ouija-style "talking board," Soothsayer was picked up by guitarist/producer Omar Rodriguez-Lopez in Jerusalem. After a variety of misfortunes were attributed to the mystical object, Rodriguez-Lopez buried Soothsayer in an undisclosed location. The Bedlam in Goliath is The Mars Volta's way of counteracting the evil curse by way of disseminating its power to the listeners.

A sense of urgency permeates the entire album, evidenced by the feverish intensity of the drumming and guitar work. Diverse without feeling disjointed, songs flow from one to the next in a musical onslaught of the senses. Zavala's quasi-religious lyrics create vividly disturbing atmospheres in which the Soothsayer's curse threatens impending doom. A great example can be found in the track "Ilyena": "If you could see where I've been/ you'd touch the hand that's touching sin."

Singer Cedric Bixler Zavala demonstrates a phenomenal range as he plies the limits of his upper register. The multitude of band members (too many to list here) displays an utter mastery of their instrument and an intuitive sense of their placement in the sonic scheme. However, at times there is so much going on that it can be difficult to focus on the song as a whole.

The final verdict: An absolutely massive album, perfect for fans of prog-rock, experimentalists of all types, and those not afraid to taunt the curse of the Soothsayer. A | Josh Vise

RIYL: Muse, King Crimson

The Mars Volta can be found online at www.thebedlam.net and www.myspace.com/themarsvolta

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