The Mars Volta are one of those bands that defy categorization. The band features two ex-At the Drive in members as well as Flea contributing bass to some parts (don’t know which ones, it doesn’t say). Don’t expect At the Drive-in, pt. 2 however. This is something pretty different. I don’t know ATDI too well(though I own “Vaya” and I like it, so I plan on getting more), but from what I’ve heard, this doesn’t sound a whole lot like them. It’s more abstract and progressive, and a little harder to appreciate. I guess the music could loosely be described as progressive-punk-jazz-indie-whatever. It really doesn’t matter. It’s something really original and good.
“Inertiatic ESP” is the first real song (the first track just being an intro to it), and it starts the album off in a rocking fashion, with Cedric yelling “Now, I’m lost” over some speedy riffs and drumming. Cedric’s vocals may be kinda hard to get into, but I loved them the first time I heard them. I dunno. He’s kinda wail-y at times, but it’s cool. “Roulette Dares (the haunt of)” is one of my favorites on the album, mixing speedier sections with catchy vocals with softer, prettier passages of guitar explorations (and one almost free-jazz-esque part that’s really amazing). There’s definitely some King Crimson influence in this one. “Cicatrez ESP” is another highlight, a 12 minute long piece with a long synth interlude and lots of cool guitary stuff. “Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt” has some of the coolest guitar playing on the album in it’s second half; it really must be heard. It’s like Crimson-jazz.
This album will probably take a few listens to sink in if you even like it at all, but I give it a high recommendation to those looking for something original and progressive. Don’t expect “prog” however…As Cedric said on their website, it’s progressive, but has much more of a punk aesthetic to it.