Mars Volta experiments with psychedelic sound

The Mars Volta actually have a reason to sound crazy this time. The band was recently possessed by a Ouija board called the Soothsayer and a spirit named Goliath, hence their latest album name, The Bedlam in Goliath. And whatever they are possessed by, it certainly works to their advantage.

The supposed curse they picked up really shows throughout the album. “Aberinkula” comes raging out of the gates with complex drum patterns, jazzy guitars, and singer Cedric Bixler’s helium-high voice. However, the sound is dragged down towards the end of a seven minute escapade with swirling trumpets, scattered drum bites, and static guitars.

Formed in 2003, the Mars Volta are notorious for their new age blend of prog rock, jazz, and remnants of the emo movement which they were a part of. Their previous band, At The Drive-In, crept into the emo scene with a great live sound. However, just as their fourth album reached the Top 100, the group unexpectedly broke up.

Two of the members, singer Cedric Bixler and guitarist Omar Rodriguez, collaborated with others to form the Mars Volta in 2003 after the breakup of At The Drive-In. On Bedlam in Goliath, Bixler’s voice reaches sky-high heights. Underneath the thin, lofty vocals, drum parts weave in and out of coherency, serving as the base of their thought-provoking sound. The drums sound like they are trying to forever break through an enclosed box. The only solution: keep playing crazier and crazier.

Alongside the drums, the layered guitar parts can also get confusing. But their jazzy and melodic tones are hard to deny. On “Metatron,” a moment of beauty occurs when Rodriguez plays a sweet melody on the guitar with Bixler’s soft, high vocal touch.

On “Soothsayer,” Bixler’s vocal genius shines through along with Rodriguez’s sweeping guitar melodies and complex solos. But the beat is never given to you. One has to weave through the wall of sound and really dig deep. There, at the core, one will find a true gem of progressive, indie, psychedelic rock.

Evan Bakker, staff writer