Released: Jul 15, 2014
Genre: Alternative Rock, Post-Punk, Progressive Rock
Number Of Tracks: 10
On the grave of The Mars Volta, founders Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez unexpectedly create a new band and record, "Antemasque."
AntemasqueFeatured review by: UG Team, on july 15, 2014 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: Longtime friends and musicians Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez have had very fruitful and colorful careers together. Collectively, both boast more music projects than you can count with two hands, but the duo first claimed music fame in the '90s with their post-hardcore band, At The Drive-In. While their final album, "Relationship of Command," was widely considered a groundbreaking record for the post-hardcore genre, ATDI would break up on a sour note, soon after Cedric's notorious rant condemning moshing during their performance, which led to the band walking off stage early into their set. But even a sh-tty situation can end up acting like organic fertilizer, and soon after the band's breakup, Cedric and Omar would start their most flourishing band, The Mars Volta. With TMV being the progressive/experimental rock band that the duo have always wanted, they would release six albums, including "De-Loused in the Comatorium" and "The Bedlam in Goliath," which are widely considered as the best albums the duo have ever made. TMV would also meet its end after a decade-plus of activity, with Omar wanting to quit TMV in order to work on a new music project, Bosnian Rainbows, without Cedric. Once again, another one of the duo's bands would end on a sour note, as the two showed some tense feelings towards each other; but once again, everything would end up working out in the end when the duo announced a brand new music project, Antemasque, out of the blue.
With a lot of newfound hype for what Cedric and Omar would bring to the table as Antemasque, the singles they released prior to the release of their debut self-titled album shows a different music side to the duo, and the album as a whole covers a number of bases. With "Antemasque" bearing a lot of punchy chords, as well as energetic drum-lines and bass-lines, there's a good amount of indie-punk flavor in the album, but while songs like "50,000 Kilowatts," "Momento Mori" and "Rome Armed to the Teeth" bear the most indie-punk character on the album, "4AM" has a post-punk incline to it, giving off a subtle hint of Joy Division. "Antemasque" also shows Cedric and Omar's take on the oh-so-trendy blues-rock revival: Cedric employs a vintage bluesy vocal style, resonating effectively in songs like "Ride Like the Devil's Son," "People Forget," and the folky, acoustic-driven "Drown All Your Witches"; and Omar switches into a blues-rock style with the rough & tumble main riff and psychedelic-influenced guitar solo in "I Got No Remorse," as well as injecting psychedelic-influenced guitar solos in "People Forget" and "Ride Like the Devil's Son." "In the Lurch" also boasts a blues-rock bridge of a groovy guitar and bass riff and Cedric's untamed vocals paired with a tambourine, but the verses display an intelligent, prog-inspired meshing of instruments. Along with this, the dark and inquisitive "black sheep" track "Providence" carries the most prog-rock influence on the album, sounding a lot like a track that could easily fit on The Mars Volta's final album, "Noctourniquet." // 8
Lyrics: Throughout his career as a songwriter, Cedric has always shown a penchant for penning his lyrics with esotery - telling stories with enough perversion on the narrative to keep it from being too easily decipherable. While "Antemasque" may not tout the same level of dense intricacy found in The Mars Volta's albums, Cedric still shows his proper form on the lyric page - still using each song to tell a story in his cryptic demeanor (such as the epic love story in "Rome Armed to the Teeth," or the eerily evocative southern-style folk tale of "Drown All Your Witches"), still juggling recurring themes and symbolic motifs throughout the album (religion and fire come up numerous times), and still perverts common sayings to bring about a different meaning to things (such as "and buried on the hatchet of what is forgiven" in "On the Lurch"). However, with Cedric emulating a retro-rock style in his vocals, you can also see that style in the lyrics throughout "Antemasque," mainly in the form of repetition in his hooks (such as the simple-witted "people forget/people tend to forget/and I just want to remind you" in "People Forget"), as well as quasi-hooks that tie off the ends of verses; though in this appeal to simplicity, it comes off somewhat as coasting. // 7
Overall Impression: With The Mars Volta starting to become less potent of a prog-rock band in the last few years, Antemasque provides a breath of fresh air and a strong new chapter in Cedric and Omar's music career as a duo. While offering a music style not heard from Cedric and Omar before, they still show off their talent for songwriting; from the instrument layering and skillful composition to the adept lyric-writing. Not only will "Antemasque" be satisfying for those that are big fans of the duo, but "Antemasque" also does a really good job entertaining the current trend of retro-inspired rock without shamelessly being an echo-chamber of the blues-rock revival scene, which is also very refreshing. There's no telling how long of an endeavor Antemasque will be (it was conceived on a whim, and it can just as plausibly dismantle on a whim), but regardless, "Antemasque" is the latest reason as to why Cedric and Omar should keep making music together. // 8
Waren, on july 22, 2014 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: Antemasque is a four-piece band comprised of Cedric Bixler-Zavala (vocals), Omar Rodríguez-Lopez (guitars), Dave Elitch (drums) and recording-only member Flea (bass). As Cedric says: "The Mars Volta and At The Drive-In had a baby and it's called Antemasque." After releasing a very promising 4 track EP a few months ago, the full-length album is already available for listening. The songs in this album are around the 4 minute mark and have great energy in them, and all the members work together seamlessly.
I'm pretty sure that most of the people that have given this album a spin are already familiar with Cedric Bixler-Zavala's vocals. He's got a pretty high range for a male singer, and his chops are on full display here. His delivery on many of the tracks is really fast, which recalls his earlier days in ATDI and he does not abuse of the octave effect as he did in TMV.
The band relies mostly on basic rock instrumentation, although some tracks appear to have keys in them which further improve their existing sound. Omar's guitar is less distorted and intricate than it was before, and he throws some pretty cool effect combinations along the album, and a lead work very reminiscent of Mr. Robert Fripp. Dave Elitch is a monster behind the drumkit, and whatever I say does not describe his skills properly. "In the Lurch" is a good example of his chops.
Apparently, they have re-recorded or remixed the bass tracks from the earlier versions on the EP and boy it does show! The bass sounds very clear and present, and Flea does a great job showcasing his skills, such as in tracks "In the Lurch" and "Drown All Your Witches." Overall, the band is very tight and the songwriting is very concise and spot-on. // 9
Lyrics: The lyrics here are definitely not as cryptic as they were on the guys' previous bands, and I think this is a positive aspect as it gives Antemasque its own identity. I don't have a lyric sheet with me, but overall the lyrics remain on the simple side, dealing mostly with life situations (real or fictitious), which boosts the catchiness of many tracks: "People forget, people tend to forget / And I just wanna remind you" or "Can you read my thoughts when I close my eyes / And I ride like the Devil's son." As I already stated, Cedric is a great singer and he is in full form throughout the album. // 7
Overall Impression: The first time I listened to Antemasque it reminded me of some classic prog rock bands such as King Crimson and Rush mixed with the punk aspect that At The Drive-In had. Throw in some Zeppelin as well.
The standout tracks for me are: "I Got No Remorse," "In the Lurch," "Drown All Your Witches" and "Providence," which oddly shares the name with a King Crimson track but sounds nothing like its namesake, being one of the most eerie tracks on the record. The only track I did not like is "50,000 Kilowatts," because it seems like they wrote this track for radio airplay, and while they deserve all the recognition they can get, this song sadly it reminds me a bit of My Chemical Romance, a band that I do not enjoy, and it might deceive first time listeners.
I love that the guys decided to get back together, and the fun nature of the songs tells me that they are back for good. It seems like they had a great time recording in Flea's studio, and the album is quite an easy listen as well. It is a great starting point in case you want to explore the rest of these guys' music, if you haven't already. 4 stars for Antemasque, a pretty good album that I hope is the beginning of a new and awesome chapter in the lives of these very talented men. // 8