Octahedron review by The Mars Volta

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  • Released: Jun 23, 2009
  • Sound: 7
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 7.3 Good
  • Users' score: 9 (37 votes)
The Mars Volta: Octahedron

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.

19 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Album seemed ok. Nothing really stood out to me (other than vocals/melodies). Will be listening again.
    I didn't like this album as much as their others at first listen, due to the more radio friendly turn they seem to have taken, but it is not without it's charm, and it has grown on me a fair bit
    Mr Pringle
    IN MY OPINION: Frances The Mute Octahedron De-loused in the comatorium Bedlam In Goliath Amputechture I was given all of the mars volta's work by a friend just after bedlam was and they have changed how I look and write Music. If someone has picked it up I listened to them alphabetically from Amputechture to Frances which has given my own view on what album is my personal favourite. ALSO, ALSO, ALSO Octahedron is ****ing amazing and every Volta fan should go out and buy it right now!
    Lex Davids
    doinitrong, if you compare it to past albums you're setting yourself up for a disappointment, always
    With twilight as my guide is an amazing song. def my favorite from the album. i think i like this song so much because i can see pink floyd doing this song. i hear alot of the floyd on the album and it works really well for them. gj TMV
    darth awsome
    darb0114 wrote: What song does Frusciante play on?
    All of them. Most of the guitar you hear in any Mars Volta song is Frusciante. Omar writes the music and then teaches it to the other band members. He only does some solos and noise sections so he can focus on directing and producing the albums.
    I really like this album, definitely not as good as Amputechture, Frances or De-Loused, but still good. Besides, for those who are missing the ear-splitting mental Mars Volta, there's El Nuevo Grupo de Omar Rodriguez Lopez, Omar and Cedric's side-project with Hella. You should give "Cryptomnesia" a listen.
    This is one of their best I think, because there's no bullshit, no "prog for the sake of prog" type playing that can really plague them sometimes. It's defnitely a grower though, spin it a few times and see how you like it.
    Def. and album that grows on you. At first i hated it, now I think its great.....plus it includes Mr. Frusciante!
    i think its their best after frances the mute... i like this album because its shorter..no ****in arounds
    The album is very different from the others its kind of the slow down album. Omar said in an interview that Octahedron was their 'acoustic' album without the acoustic.
    It's marvelous. This album is a very subdued TMV, yes, but it's very engaging imo.
    I agree with street.....my first listen I thought it was just ok, not normal Volta. Now I've been listening for about a week and I love it. Not the best MV album but still good. What song does Frusciante play on?
    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) Actually Omar and Cedric did state he wanted to make more of an acoustic/ pop feel on this album. Omar usually has the next albums planned out, right after Amputechture Omar stated he wanted the next album to be very aggressive and fast ( Bedlam In Goliath) followed by a slow and stripped down acoustic songs (octahedron) 5 albums and all are amazing, one of the best original, soulful bands ever.... If you haven't see them live.... best band ever, esp. on shrooms lmao