Must Hear Music
Reviews Archives
Bargain Basement
Music DVD
Send Us Mail
Contact Us

The Mars Volta
Universal Records

Third album from ex-At the Drive-In honchos Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (gawsh, these guys must have extra-long signature boxes on their check books) and crew. This one features an expanded role for Red Hot Chili Peppers' guitarist John Frusciante - although he's not that recognizable here, despite doing the brunt of the guitar work.

Amputechture isn't a huge departure from previous Mars Volta records, being mostly mid-temp, prog-influenced hard rock with quiet acoustic passages giving way to screaming crescendos of atonal guitars and brass. That old prog-rock favourite, the flute, even makes a few appearances! Many of the songs stretch way over the 10 minute mark, which gives the band plenty of room for experimentation but can wear a bit thin at times.

A few highlights: "Vicarious Atonement" kicks things off slowly, with spiralling, soloing guitars and yowling vocals that sound like a slightly softer Robert Plant. Then it's into more typical MV territory with "Tetragrammaton" ,16 minutes of prog heaven with the twinkling electronic effects that make many of the band's songs stand out.

After that the songs tend to pretty much blend into one another, with no particular standouts for me until the final "El Ciervo Vulnerado", an epic screamer with what sounds like some nice sitar at the end.

Credit to Bixler-Zavala and Rodriguez-Lopez for pushing the boundaries of production throughout - what could have turned to be a modern update on Yes, or maybe a more experimental take on the likes of System of a Down, is given a modern sheen with all kinds of intriguing electronics, unexpected instrumentation and harmonic twists.

Overall this is an arresting, individual album with many interesting twists to distinguish it, but it could use a bit more dynamic range. The Mars Volta could take a lesson or two from the likes of Mogwai when it comes to building from a quiet hush to full-on rock mayhem; Amputechture doesn't have enough middle ground between those two extremes.

-Gareth Bowles

Track listing:
1. Vicarious Atonement
2. Tetragrammaton
3. Vermicide
4. Meccamputechture
5. Asilos Magdalena
6. Viscera Eyes
7. Day of the Baphomets
8. El Ciervo Vulnerado

Check out more reviews

Talk Back
e-mail the chief

Like this article?
e-mail it to a friend!


Mike Doughty

none now

South By Southwest 2014
David DeVoe

South By Southwest 2013
David DeVoe

Red Hook Music Festival
George Dow

SXSW 2012
David DeVoe

Our Favorite Records 2011
Hybrid Staff

Rachel Fredrickson

Rachel Fredrickson

Warped Tour 2011
Rachel Fredrickson

Eddie Spaghetti
Melissa Skrbic-Huss

Murder By Death
Mike DeLeo

Mike Doughty
Boulder, CO

Denver, CO

Imagine Dragons
Denver, CO

Cambridge, MA

Young Magic
Denver, CO

Warped Tour 2012
Denver, CO

Denver, CO

Mike Doughty
Denver, CO

Kansas City, MO

Other Lives
Lawrence, KS

Los Campesinos
Boston, MA

The Civil Wars
Lawrence, KS

Ha Ha Tonka
Lawrence, KS

Lawrence, KS

hybridmagazine.com is updated daily except when it isn't.
New film reviews are posted every week like faulty clockwork.
Wanna write for hybrid? Send us an e-mail.
© 1996-2009 [noun] digital media. All rights reserved worldwide. All content on hybridmagazine.com and levelheadedmusic.com is the intellectual property of Hybrid Magazine and its respective creators. No part of hybridmagazine.com or levelheadedmusic.com may be reproduced in any format without expressed written permission. For complete masthead and physical mailing address, Click Here.