Sound — 7
The Mars Volta's latest 50 minute epic 'Octahedron' manages to push the boundaries of how far a band may go with a successful standard pop song structure. While the previous album 'The Bedlam in Goliath' was loud, loud, loud and played at the highest tempo possible, 'Octahedron' sees Omar and co. playing in unfamiliar territory.. 'Octahedron' sees the band shedding the personnel of Adrin Terrazas-Gonzlez and Paul Hinojos who the band have steadily relied on ever since the highly successful prog masterpieces 'De-loused in the Comatorium' and 'Frances the Mute' respectively. The overall sound sees the band experimenting (surprised?) with a more stripped down song structure. However given the description the casual listener would not expect to see the usual escapades the Mars Volta manage to get up to. Pulsating bass and steady drums set the scene nicely for many of Octahedron's 8 songs. Jazz piano, soft guitar lines until the magnifiencent guitar solo eruption seen in the closing track 'Luciforms'. Acoustic guitars are prevalent which sees Cedric singing more Soulful vocals. However it is the subtle touches like the synth starting off "Since We've Been Wrong" or the King Crimson esque Mellotrons along with the nice harmonisation of Cedric's vocals that make Octahedron an enjoyable listen. However there is a sense of something missing that made De-loused in the Comatoriumso sucessful such as the engaging narrative contained in lyrics which in 'Octahedron' is missing, kidnapped apparently. But don't get me wrong 'Octahedron' has some of Cedric's best vocals and lyrics he has ever done along with some of their best experimentation
Lyrics — 8
'Octahedron' sees Cedric Bixler-Zavala singing about matchsticks and 'fingernail choirs that will make your chalkboard sing.' Cedric's lyrics are definitely on par with his other efforts yet disappointingly lack the same edge seen in their debut. However there are some highlights which will have you singing from dawn to dusk. Did I mention they are catchy? An good example of this is the radio friendly 'Since We've Been Wrong' and 'Copernicus' not too mention the breathtakingly eerie "With Twilight As My Guide" As well as the deathly mantra "Let the wheels burn, let the wheels burn stack the tires to the neck with the body inside. seen in the oval office grunt of 'Teflon' Unlike other Mars Volta albums the music manages to fit with the lyrics. An escape from the usual Omar composing the music than Cedric fitting lyrics to the music. Octahedron gives the impression of the other way round. Cedric makes good use with the upper register as well as demonstrating a good ability of lower ballad sounds seen throughout the whole album. I was most impressed with Cedric's contribution to Octahedron.
Overall Impression — 7
While 'Octahedron' is a worthwhile listen it may see the most devoted and obsessed fans shaking their heads from the highly successful use of the pop song structure. However this also has it's pro's as this may tap into the market allowing more people to appreciate their music and hear it from radio ect. I feel that 'Octahedron' was a once off given that Omar's overused quote of "I want to progress our sound, evolve, blah blah blah" For all I know the next album could be a salsa album (I wish!) 'Octahedron' is a largely worthwhile listen but makes you wish of putting something more worthwhile on such as 'De-loused' ect. Don't let this put you off it though! Soon enough you'll hear Cedric singing about 'Gordian knots' and 'bury me in gold' and what's that? Oh it's Omar combusting for about 2 minutes. Good show.