Frank Reber
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August 25, 2006
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Rock Music Reviews
The Mars Volta
Amputechture

If anyone out there was worried that the new Mars Volta album would be lacking in comparison to the first two, I assure you that they've still got their knack for making killer records. This will be their third studio album and one of their most progressive records yet to come. Amputechture will be the second album produced by The Mars Volta's own Omar Rodriguez-Lopez; Frances the Mute was the first. The sounds are clean and captivating but there are moments when Cedric's vocals are so high and shrill that it might cause the faint of heart to turn down the treble just a smidge.

The album starts off with "Vicarious Atonement", which has a quiet and ambient introduction that is driven by spacey guitar sounds that meekly remind me of Santana and McLaughlin's "The Love Divine." The use of vocal layering in combination of matching notes with guitar creates an interesting texture. The use of saxaphone should be noted as well. It adds a nice touch.

At number two, "Tetragrammaton" comes right at listeners with the explosive drums and scales that I find myself expecting from The Mars Volta. The beginning of this song is almost King Crimson-esque in its deliverance but with a unique quality that seperates The Mars Volta from would-be copycats. The guitar work is choppy and complex throughout the track but remains soothing and easy to listen to. I particularly enjoy drums and bass in this song. The rhythm is interesting and different throughout the entire 16 minutes and 43 seconds of this composition. The combination of intense moments with ambient noise segments has become a trademark of The Mars Volta's albums (and live shows). What would a Mars Volta album be without noise? Probably metal.

I actually heard "Vermicide" (track #3) yesterday while I was at Best Buy. I'm pretty sure that they are going to market this as their single. It would be a good move because the song is catchy and organized well. It's also only 4 minutes and 17 seconds long, which makes it the shortest track on the album. Perhaps it will earn them some radio time.

I'm sold on the entire album and haven't found a song that I do not like. Perhaps I'm biased and just a die-hard Mars Volta fan. However, if you liked Frances the Mute and/or Deloused then you must own this record. This record combines the best elements of their previous two albums. It has the complexities of Frances the Mute with the punch of Deloused.

There is one sad note to be added to this review. This is going to be the last record that features Jon Theodore as the drummer for The Mars Volta. According to a number of online sources he quit the band on July 26th. The Mars Volta plans on replacing him with Blake Fleming who was the original drummer back in the early days.

Release date: September 19, 2006
Label: Umvd Labels
Rating: 9.0 / 10

[RMR]