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The Bedlam in Goliath

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  • I usually allow an album a few weeks to settle into my realm before I give a proper critique on it, but considering listening to “The Bedlam In Goliath” has mostly taken up the majority of days lately, I deemed it appropriate to write a review. I am a very big Mars Volta fan, loving every album they have put out almost equally. So, this album is no different in that matter. This is musically TMV’s most complex and challenging album. They range in everything from psychadelia, jazz-fusion, salsa, metal, classic-rock, funk & everything in between. It is a huge 75 minute blast of genre crushing music, and with the exception of “Tourniquet Man”, does not let up for the duration. Considering the first two tracks do sound like they could have easily fit on Amputechture, the rest of the album veers off into a totally new world for Cedric, Omar & Co. This is quite the treat.

    1.Aberinkula 9/10…Wastes absolutely no time in getting down to business with the chorus crashing through the speakers from second one. A tremendous hard rocking opener with an amazing 2 minute jam for an outro.
    2.Metatron 8.5/10…More or less in the same vein as the first track and at times reminds me of the madness that occurs on “Tetragrammaton” from the previous record. There is alot going on in this song and it can be a little much, but the soft bridge in the middle that leads right back into mayhem is priceless.
    3.Ilyena 10/10…After about a minute of disortion drenched vocals, Cedric’s crisp near falsetto voice greets us with “if you could see..where i’ve been..” with a slinky guitar riff and a funky bassline, makes this the most danceable TMV song since the salsa section in L’Via. Such an amazingly melodic song.
    4.Wax Simulacra 8.5/10…This song nearly comes across as an anti-single, more or less a jab at their record company for craving singles. A two minute song (!) that crams more instrumentation into itself than most bands do on entire records. Pure mayhem.
    5.Goliath 10/10…A rework of “Rapid Fire Tollbooth” off of Omar’s last solo offering, and what a rework it is. A more or less sped up version of the previous, with insane rapid soloing, and a 3 minute outro jam that brings to mind the “Drunkship Of Lanterns” outro and will surely put a smile on your face.
    6.Tourniquet Man 8/10…A very soft melodic piece that I personally feel serves as an intro to Cavalettas, as opposed to most saying it is an “obvious attempt at a single.” Cedric’s vocals are nearly indistinguishable, and I agree that yes the last 40 seconds or so are completely unecessary, but I think it actually assists the flow in contrast to disrupting it.
    7.Cavalettas 9.5/10…Another track that has been taking quite the lashing for no good reason. I can understand that people would like a little more variation out of a nine and a half minute song, but once the song keeps fading in and out trading off with a stellar staccato riff and Cedric crooning oh so melodically, I can’t help but love this song.
    8.Agadez 10/10…A prime example of their aforementioned departure of their old sound. The verses consist of a very funky/jazzy vocal delivery while the chorus pummels you with Thomas Pridgen making his cymbals his slaves. The song gradually leads to an amazing climax.
    9.Askepios 8/10…Enter the most interesting track probably in the Volta catalogue. A very hard to track to describe, but the inital verses drag by with Omar’s slow strumming accompanied by Priden’s insane echoed drumming. And right when you’re about to hit the skip button, the song transoforms into a whole nother beast. The last 2 minutes with Cedric desperately crying out “help me..come alive!” confirms that the record wouldn’t be the same without this strange bird.
    10.Ouroboros 10/10…Opens with a near metal riff and pounding drums and leads way for probably the best track on the album. Just amazing in all aspects, and pardon my contradiction, but this song seems like it could have came straight off of De-loused.
    11.Soothsayer 8/10…The other quite unusual track on the record. It contains lush strings, minimal guitar, hold for Omar’s very jazzy solo in the middle, Cedric’s often distortion laced vocal, and a prayer (?) that carries out the last two minutes. This song is hugely epic and soars majestically at parts, but other times seems like it doesn’t know what to do with itself.
    12.Conjugal Burns 10/10…I never thought I’d see the day that TMV would make a closer that would rival the greatness of “Take The Veil Cerpin Taxt”, but my worries are quickly suppressed. Begins with a simple riff and Cedric’s obnoxious vocal delivery, and slowly builds out into freakout mode and then leads way for the catchiest part on the entire record. When Cedric sings “all of this time, bedsore containment, where am i now that the music has faded?” you know the Volta have done it again.

    Do yourself a favor and pick this gem up, and the rest of the catalogue for the matter if you don’t have them. Such an amazing record should not be missed, and along with Radiohead’s “In Rainbows” gets my early vote for record of the year.

    Posted on December 11, 2009