Artist: The Mars Volta
Running Time: 76 mins
Reviewed: 27 July 2006
I've been lucky enough to acquire a pre-release copy of this searing sonic experience. Amputechture is The Mars Volta's third studio album, following on from the challenging De-loused in the Comatorium (2003) and Frances the Mute (2005) and is, in my opinion, better than both.
The Mars Volta is considered progressive rock, but I'm not comfortable with the genre-stuffing in their case. They come to the table with punk backgrounds, and bring a strong latin flavour to their work. Yes, their songs are long - very long - and complex - extremely complex. This is not listening for a lazy Sunday afternoon. It's a ten-pronged assault on your brain via your ears, with killer hooks surrounded by brass, saxophones, guitar, a frighteningly good rhythm section - drums, bass, bongos, whatever they can lay their hands on. And, over all, one of the most wondrous voices in rock. Cedric, oh, he can sing.
To the album, then. Frusciante and Flea of the Chili Peppers play with The Mars Volta on this record, but it's no Californication. The five smoking gun barrels of this album are bookended by a relatively gentle intro and outro track, and in the middle is a lovely spanish guitar piece. But the heart of the album is five great tracks: Tetragrammaton, Vermicide, Meccamputechture, Viscera Eyes and Day of the Baphomets, each with their hook.
What's it about? The album explores the problems with religion, more specifically its excision. Hence the title Meccamputechture (break the word down and see if you can work it out). The lyrics are difficult to decipher and harder to understand, but the first few times you listen that won't bother you. Cedric uses his voice as another instrument - or, more correctly, another layer of instruments. We're talking sonic wall of sound here.
What do they sound like? Er - there are elements of Led Zeppelin, King Crimson, I don't know, name your band really. But they sound like The Mars Volta and nothing else. They sound raw, passionate, on fire, out of control. You need to hear them.