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Mars Volta, The: Octahedron

And the controversy continues…

Billed by the band as their "acoustic" album, Octahedron is the follow up to the critically acclaimed The Bedlam In Goliath, an album filled with frenetic intensity. This is not the case with Octahedron. In fact, one could almost say this is the antithesis of that album as the pace is slowed down considerably and there is far less experimentation, although there are occasional moments when the band rock out. This time around the music is not as unpredictable as on past releases and takes a less angular approach. However, that is not necessarily a bad thing as there is plenty to like in this new direction the band has taken.

Many of these songs have an understated beauty about them, filled with lovely acoustic passages and atmospheric nuance. The music is toned down and the instruments are given more room to breathe. This is a softer, more poignant Mars Volta and probably the most accessible they have sounded but I do not mean that in a negative way. Maybe the biggest change is in the voice of Cedric Bixler Zavala as he really tones down the falsetto and sings in a more relaxed manner to match the album's quieter nature. Whether you will like this new direction is a matter of personal taste. Octahedron finds the band much more melodic but also way more mellow especially when you consider the brutal heaviness of their last album.

Beginning the with the acoustic ballad "Since We've Been Wrong" and an ambient intro of over a minute, the album is off to a fine start as this is one of the most beautiful moments the band has committed to disc. It has a seventies Zeppelin vibe that is quite endearing. The gorgeous "With Twilight As My Guide" is another exquisite ballad featuring some of the Zavala's most melodic singing to date. Atmospheric keyboards and organ sounds give off a Pink Floyd feel making this a truly haunting piece. The band picks it up a notch with the heavy funk of "Cotopaxi" where psychedelic lead guitar and heavier rhythms go hand in hand. Zavala's falsetto is considerably higher here compared to the rest of the CD.

This is a fine effort by The Mars Volta but be cognizant of the fact this is a mellow affair with a stronger focus on melody and less on the discordant arrangements they are famous for. That said, there is still no mistaking the band's sound so fans should get plenty of mileage from this one. If you are new to the band this might be a great place to start. Recommended.

Track Listing:
1. Since We've Been Wrong
2. Teflon
3. Halo Of Nembutals
4. With Twilight As My Guide
5. Cotopaxi
6. Desperate Graves
7. Copernicus
8. Luciforms

Added: November 27th 2009
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band's Official Site
Hits: 1744
Language: english

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