The Mars Volta
The Mars Volta have never made easy-listening records. They create dense, sonically surprising albums that are untethered to genre, living in their own confusing, lyrically ambiguous world. It’s been three years since the lacklustre Octahedron, and it seems time and rumination has seerved vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala and guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez well. Noctourniquet is vast, constantly revealing new intricacies with each listen, and for the first time, keeps the track lengths to an average five minutes, bar the annihilating sound orgasm of The Malkin Jewel. Zavala has even got the pining love song down pat with Lapochka, as he asks repeatedly, “How long must I wait? Til the mountains of Everest turn blue.”
Bixler-Zavala’s voice is full of passion and ferocity, whether screeching on the earworm chorus of Dyslexicon or when drowned underwater on In Absentia. Musically the band are treading their own turf, that bizarre world of hot and cold, where in one song the voices may go from whispers to hollers and Rodriguez-Lopez leaps from the background to bring his shape-shifting guitar work to the forefront. All the while Bixler-Zavala sings of who knows what. Frankly no one ever really pays attention to the lyrics that seem to spew from him as if possessed; it’s his ability to evoke an array of feelings with the mere tone of his voice that draws the listener in time and time again, like on the thrilling Molochwalker.
Noctourniquet isn’t the record that’s going to convert non-believers, but for Mars Volta fans it has the guts and heart to keep their mosh pits messy for a while to come.
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