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De-Loused in the Comatorium

Mars Volta

Release Date: 06.24.03
Record label: Universal
Genre(s): Rock

80 Music-Critic Score
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Thank God for the Death of At The Drive In
by: nick evans


The disbanding of At the Drive In a couple of years back left many of their hardcore fans in dismay wanting more. Well, what they’ve been waiting for is finally here… sort of. Its nothing like At the Drive In. Think of it this way: At the Drive in is to Mars Volta as the Talking Heads is to the Tom Tom Club. While At the Drive In just about saved emo/punk music a few years ago, this album dives head first into experimental territory, mixing countless genres along the way. It’s punk, it’s progressive, it’s art-house, and it’s definitely worth a listen.


There aren’t many albums that totally blow me away from the first listen, but this is one of them. Not since Tool’s 2001 effort Lateralus have I heard an album with such sheer energy and intricate arrangements. Some tracks go on for several minutes of pure instrumentation yet the disc contains songs ranging from less than two minutes in length up to twelve. Like Lateralus, the songs play out like epics, changing around various keys and melodies throughout the lengthy piece. They also create a variety of multi layered soundscapes and textures, which may not be MTV2 ready… But when its this good, who cares?


The album’s hour of music may contain “everything but the kitchen sink,” but where Mars Volta truly shines are tracks like “Televators”, which are simpler and lighter. It showcases the singer’s voice, and brings out the true melody of the song. But harder tracks such as “Inertiatic Esp” and “Cicatriz Esp” bring the driving rock mixed with just enough experimentalism that the fans truly crave. They typically start out at a moderate pace, build to an intense climax, return to a relaxing bridge, and then starts all over again.


This is the rare type of album that a Radiohead fan and a Something Corporate fan can agree on, and it's doubtful there will be an album like this to come around in a very long time. The disbanding of At the Drive In may have been the best thing they ever did. 10-Jul-2003 8:50 PM