A cool band name is underrated. A cool title for an album is definitely a bonus. A fresh and innovative rock album is divine. "De-Loused in the Comatorium", the Mars Volta's freshman album from 2003 may be a hard listen because of its heavy sound, complex rhythms and meter changes, and long stretches of instrumentals and sound effects. However, good music is good music, and there's no denying the musical talent of these guys, especially that of vocalist Cedric Bixler Zavala and drummer Jon Theodore. I will even go so far as to consider "De-Loused" the most revolutionary rock album since Radiohead's "OK Computer".
Band founders Bixler Zavala and guitarist Rodriguez-Lopez released "De-Loused" as a tribute to their childhood friend who spent many years in a coma, then woke up only to lose his sanity and throw himself off an overpass into oncoming traffic. As someone who considers musical content more important than lyrics, it doesn't bother me that I can't understand most of the lyrics. I'm guessing, though, they're pretty somber since this album is for their dead friend.
The Mars Volta have become known for ambitiously composing their albums with a musical theme or idea that strings the entire work together, almost like a song cycle. However, the band is gifted enough to differentiate each track and give each song its own character. All the songs are amazing and wonderfully crafted; the ones that stand out, however, are "Intertiatic E.S.P", "Eria Tarka", and the poignant psychadelic ballad "Televators". Vocalist Bixler Zavala has an amazingly high register; the intensity and virtuosity of his voice is something truly rare. My roommates Nick Nesbitt and Keith get such a kick when I try to hit the high notes on "Intertiatic E.S.P", since I'm a terrible singer.
The Mars Volta--think of psychadelic rock mixed with metal and a shot of free jazz. "De-Loused" is an awesome recording. However, their second album, "Frances the Mute," is, in my opinion, even better than this one. Maybe I'll write about "Frances" for my next blog.