Octahedron review by The Mars Volta

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  • Released: Jun 23, 2009
  • Sound: 7
  • Lyrics: 10
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 9 (37 votes)
The Mars Volta: Octahedron

Sound — 7
First thing's first, this is my first review, so don't be expecting anything golden. Right, now with that in mind, on with the more important stuff. One of the first things you'll notice with Octahedron is the flawless production by Omar Rodrguez-Lpez. Every note and every beat is recorded and mixed with absolute grace and clarity which wonderfully compliments the exploration into the 'softer' side of The Mars Volta's music. Another noticable aspect of the album is that the somewhat experienced TMV listener will come to realise that this is the band's most accessable album to date. With a much more 'verse-chorus-verse-chorus' structure than previous albums. Although unfortunately while the album may see the band get slightly more time on the radio it does make the album come off like a bunch of B-Sides to The Bedlam In Goliath strung together with a monotonous and ominous synthesiser tone. Don't get me wrong though, the album definately has some worth-while tracks. 'With Twilight As My Guide' is arguabley the most beautiful thing Omar and Cedric have ever been responsible for creating, and the album does show real growth in that aspect. However the finer efforts tend to get dragged down by some of the more (I can't believe I'm using this word in a Mars Volta review) mainstream tracks, which sound like a very stripped down and restricted form of the band (The track 'Desperate Graves' is a prime example). It is tracks like these on this album which don't really allow the song to develop and blossom as we're used to hearing from The Mars Volta. Now if someone were to say to me that this is a mainstream rock album executed in The Mars Volta fashion, then taking that into context I would enjoy this album much more, because at least it says what it does on the tin. However no such statement has been made (at least that I'm aware of) so it feels as if I'm meant to accept this album as a genuine offering from the band, which makes me feel a bit more cheated.

Lyrics — 10
It appears Cedric has really mastered his vocal ability and style on this album, he has proved capable of capturing the same drama and emotion displayed in his vocal 'cries' (for lack of a better phrase) as he can in a whisper (Since We've Been Wrong, With Twilight As My Guide and Copernicus are all representative of this statement.) As for the lyrics on the album it appears Cedric has finally put down his thesaurus and has begun utilizing more words that the average human being is capable of pronouncing. Although occaisionally a word or two will slip in which causes the mind to boggle. Also I believe that this 'softer' side of the music has resulted in Cedric being able to produce lyrics with more style, grace and poetry than ever displayed in a Mars Volta album before. Overall, I can't really fault this aspect of the album.

Overall Impression — 8
Ideally, this album works best as a sequel to The Bedlam In Goliath. Opposing the 'loud-loud-loud' dynamic of the previous album with a more gentle approach. Similar to how many bands might release albums with an 'acoustic' secondary disc. And in my opinion that is all this album can be taken for. With 8 tracks clocking in at 50 minutes overall, Octahedron proves to be the band's shortest studio offering yet, which makes me slightly let down if I'm honest. Seeing as the average TMV album clocks in at around 70-75 minutes. If this album were by any other band I would give it a straight 10, however I've seen the potential and ability that this band has, so with that taken into context, I'll have to mark it down, although it is definately worth a listen.

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