Hear me out -- I'm happy that Omar and Cedric have found more musical freedom in the Mars Volta than they did in At the Drive-In. Yet getting me to listen to a new Mars Volta record becomes harder and harder with each new one. Attempting to get into their latest, The Bedlam in Goliath, I think I've reached the point of mercy.
I heard great things about Bedlam (David Fricke's 4-star review was one of the biggies for me), mentioning how it was a return to form for the band, but it all seems relentless and monotonous at the same time. New drummer Thomas Pridgen is a powerful and very worthy replacement to Jon Theodore, but this is the Omar and Cedric show. There's very little breathing space, and frankly, no big hooks to really draw me in.
When I mean hooks, I don't necessarily mean pop hooks or the kinds of hooks focus groups use to decide whether a song should be played to a large, daytime audience. Rather, something that says there's something deeper than just riffs and beats. Being a fan of melodic hooks, I guess that's why I've found more favor with the Fall of Troy's 2005 record, Doppelganger, more as of late.
Thanks to the finger workout it is on Guitar Hero III, the band's "F.C.P.R.E.M.I.X" led me to check out more of their stuff. Checking out their video, it's pretty cool to hear a trio essentially sounding like a quintet. Yes, Thomas Erak wails on his guitar and does some showing off, but not to the point where it becomes indulgent. I find their songs to be tuneful and noodly -- and not monotonous.
So hearing three guys do what five guys would do, I wonder why the eight-man Mars Volta sounds more like four most of the time. Do I just not understand the true beauty of proggy debauchery?