Bedlam definition: disorder resulting from a failure to behave predictably. And thats exactly what this album is all about. While trying to avoid repeating the more obvious elements of this album I must say I was a bit nervous about buying the Bedlam in Goliath. Why? Because while Frances the Mute and Amputechure were both better albums than Green Day or Fallout Boy could even imagine pulling off, yet they both reflect the challenges of a band trying to follow up after the smashing success of De-Loused in the Comatorium while loosing a key member of the band and often overlooked Jeremy Ward. While having many highlights both Frances and Amputechture both feel like bloated eps that could have benefited from more editing (like the 2 plus minutes of tape noise after “The Widow” and does anyone ever listen to the entire “Cassandra Gemini”?) and better mixing (More Ikey, and what happened to the drums in Amputechture?). Then exits John Theodore, who disliked playing live shows, yet was an amazing drummer. Whats next?
Bedlam more than surprised me because I liked so many of the tracks on first listen as previous albums including De-Loused grew on me. This album is a return to form, literally! Somehow a nine minute song like “Soothsayer” sounded like it was three minutes long. The song structures are tighter on Bedlam, less experimental (a la Frances), more structured and shorter solos, less turn on a dime tempo and mood changes (a la Amputecture), sections connect more effectively, less meandering, and overall more accessible. But put into context Bedlam is as accessible as sushi! This is not mainstream music. Now that TMV is an octet this recording retains an amazing clarity and thanks to Rich Costy nothing gets lost in the mix. And don’t worry about the new drummer, Thomas Pridgen, an alumni of Berklee college of music. I was pleasantly surprised with Pridgen’s intensity and technical control of this complex music.
“Wax Simulcara” would have been a great first track. Perhaps the most radio friendly track, and TMV recently performed this track on the Dave Letterman Show. Wax shows Pridgen in command on the percussion duties while driving a hard and intense rock out that ends in a blissful freak out acid jam that on previous albums may have lasted till next year.
“Soothsayer” is an outstanding track, haunting, very effective, and is in a ten/four time signature. The heavy echo laden guitar sound that dominated De-Loused which I much enjoy is back on this track. I wonder what some sitar and tablas could have added to this and my personal favorite track. The added string section enhances the depth of this song. Bravo to Omar for his opening guitar/sitar phrasing, and outer space effects!
“Goliath” has a catchy guitar riff, while Cedric’s high end vocal screams are able to conjure ancient spirits. The screaming near the end is violent and scary.
“Aberinkula” has a blistering saxophone solo, this track has moments that remind me of Viscera Eyes, which is not a bad thing.
“Metatron” almost resembles Tetragrammton yet being shorter by 7 minutes (phew!) and has a killer bass line!
“Ileyna” is a pleasantly funky tune perhaps inspired by the Red Hot Chili peppers.
“Tourniquet Man” is an odd track that seems to fit well in it’s short 2 and a half minute span. Perhaps the most mellow track, a kind of oasis.
“Cavalettas” has a lot going on, more focus on form, and interesting sound manipulations that do not become overdone.
“Agadez” rekindles ideas from “Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt” and could have also served well as an ending track. Hey I can hear Ikey on this one!
“Askepios” is an interesting song which feels like two songs.
“Ourboros” has moments that seemed influenced by System of A Down. With its soaring chorus, and heavy syncopation, this tune contrasts well between smoother and more intense sections.
“Conjugal Burns” has an almost humorist, Halloweenish bass guitar sound from Juan Alderete. The scream near the end has to be Cedric’s most intense ever!
Hearing this album the first time was like reading a novel that you couldn’t put down. The intensity and creativity of this album keeps me captivated for the duration, which few albums as a whole can do. One can read about the storyline/concept of this album elsewhere. Keep in mind that Cedric and Omar have repeatedly stated that the message of their music is meant to be obscure, you are free to interpret it any way you want! But go ahead and blow your mind by researching and investigating the meanings of the song titles, words, and artwork. For every answer you find a new question emerges. Less is more, and more is less at the same time. This is music that almost defies description with words, you just have to hear it. And if your open minded, and like De-Loused you will not be disappointed that you did.