Sound — 9
The music to put it simply is amazing, when it's playing. There is too much ambience and gaps of randoms effects for my liking, although the music itself makes up for this. And in some cases the effects are definately fitting. Frances the Mute is a concept album based around a diary found by their sound engineer Jeremy Ward and is basically about a man trying to find his biological parents. The thing I like most about The Mars Volta is the combination of styles and the way in which the album has many ups and downs. There can be huge soaring vocals and chaotic riffs and drumming, and then seconds later have faded almost completely, then when the time is right the band can explode again. I find the softer songs just entertaining has the faster, heavier ones. Overall I would rate the album a 9, taking away 1 for the overuse (and often inappropriately long use) of sounds effect breaks.
Lyrics — 9
The lyrics are difficult to interpret. Without reading some of the plot it would be very difficult to know it. Despite this the lyrics and singing seems to fit the music (although I can't really cover the Spanish lyrics. Cedric is certainly an excellent singer for the band. There are probably better singers around, but I believe it would be difficult to find one to fit the band like he does. He has a great ranges which adapts to the different feels that the instruments create. I would take one point away for some of the lyrics where it seems a thesaurus has been a bit overused.
Overall Impression — 10
My favourite songs would be the first four, although the Widow doesn't fit perfectly between Cygnus. Vismund Cygnus and L'Via L'Viaquez. I do enjoy the others, but I prefer the first half of the album. Overall this album deserves a 10, simply for the amazing contrasts, the great creativity and musicianship and for leaving me completely satisfied every time I listen to it.