The Mars Volta

    The Bedlam in Goliath


    It’s not the bloated Tales From Topographic Oceans sequel that the waterlogged Amputechture (2006) turned out to be, but the Mars Volta’s The Bedlam in Goliath finds the band still immersed in the regressive progressive rock and sledgehammer funk that has grown exponentially more bombastic and parodic since their promising 2003 debut, De-Loused in the Comatorium.


    Cedric Bixler Zavala’s paroxysmal vocals are still careening through a Geddy Lee’d bombast of bilingual, hyper-octave melodrama, and though bandleader/guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez has thankfully dropped his interminable excursions into momentum-killing ten-minute ambient lulls, he’s countered by shifting the song tempos into a numbing, adrenalized extreme. Further, Rodriguez-Lopez still drives the band through lead-foot funk and Cliff’s Notes fusion (where random sax squalls and brassy throbs become free jazz) — the same superficial eclecticism that began on their debut as a tic and has now erupted into a grand mal of sonic epilepsy, with the frenzied (albeit technically virtuosic) shuddering never slowing until the album’s final, twisting roar fades into raw-ear silence.


    Sounding as if he were striving for his own Bitches Brew or Fun House, Rodriguez-Lopez’s scattershot new production only manages to resemble a second-rate, speed-addled Comatorium. This is rut music and the Mars Volta are still stuck in it; even if they’ve managed to avoiding digging themselves any deeper with Goliath’s frenetic lateral slides into pseudo bedlam, momentum is only momentum if you’re going somewhere.




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