Sound — 9
Like a psychedelic boar, the salvador Dali's of music, The Mars Volta return the scene with their fourth major effort 'The Bedlam in Goliath' and prove that you cannot always do the same thing over and over and over and over again. The Octet which mutated out of the ashes of post-hardcore ovelords 'At the drive-in', are known for their funkadelic fusion of progressive hardcore and Jazz and proved themsleves quite the rock act. But this time around, they seem to lack the punch which their previous records featured. The album explodes from the violent 'Aberinkula', which is quite the opener which should impress even the haters with the dynamics featured within. 'Aberinkula' is a template which most of the songs are based on of the album and should provide the listener a good idea of what they are in for. Guitarist/Arranger/Frank Zappa-man Omar A. Rodriguez Lopez as always shines on this record, his loopy and acidic leads are quite exciting but feel somewhat recycled after the 356th jazz breakdown. Bass player and Racer X alumini, Juan Alderete is truly the anchor the band; who keeps most songs on form even if the guitars and keyboards stray from tangent. The musical prowess on this record is awe-inpiring. But a question does come up: 'technical for the sake of technical? ', maybe so but at least they do not go the levels of other bands; for God's sake, they're not 'Behold... the arctopus'. On the note of technical skills, the newly recruited drummer Thomas Pridgen is quite notable. The young man is an organic drum-machine, but as always there is a catch; he is nothing creatively on former drummer Jon Theodore who of now is jamming with Zach Dela Rocha.
Lyrics — 7
Vocalist and lyricist Cedric Bixler Zavala, claims upon his soul that this album is cursed; TBIG is apparently the product of a malicious Ouja board which had not only almost broke up the band, but also ruined the album. The lyrics are highly metaphorical almost at at the level of being nonsenical. Truly, if you intend to decipher this album, good luck. You have lost yourself many years. There is some disgusting yet beautiful imagery on this record which should not be ignored. Bixler-Zavala has traded in his soaring old style of vocals for an exasperated high snarl, the old Robert Plant emulations are still present, but not as much as the masses would want as the snarls get on the nerves.
Overall Impression — 7
Sigh. If the Rodriguez-Lopez and Bixler-Zavala still consider themselves 'highly progressive', they have became figures of walking irony. The album does not expand on anthing new, it is not as bombastic or exciting as the first two records, ad surprisingly it seems like the technical skill has lowered from their last effort. While Rodriguez-Lopez's solo work constantly gains momentum, his main project is slowly growing musical fungus. While we wait for TMV's new album in hope of rediscovered brilliance, this one reviewer is going to listen to some Mastodon...