Let Us Now Listen To The Discographies Of Various Musicians

Mike K

The Mars Volta: The Bedlam In Goliath

The Bedlam In Goliath (2008)

This is the first Mars Volta album that sort of feels like a reaction to the previous release - it's pretty apparent that after the psychedelic, relatively slow-paced Amputechture, they had to follow it up with something pretty heavy. In fact, a good deal of the first half almost brings to mind At The Drive-In due to emphasis on heavy riffs and fast drumming, although the vocal style, song structures and the occasional production trick still keep it sounding like a Mars Volta record.

The thing that's sort of interesting though, is that there's kind of a deliberate sea change exactly halfway through: "Tourniquet Man", the sixth track, is essentially the album's token ballad, but ends in about 45 seconds of Last Note Nightmare, and that seems to signal that there's going to be something a little different going on for the rest of the record. From there on, while the songs still have the aggression of the first half, more and more experimental elements start coming in. And while Amputechture used much of the same elements for more of a distant, druggy effect, here they're used in a more visceral, creepy manner. While things like the clanging intro to "Frances The Mute" were probably meant to be unnerving, this is the first album where that sort of thing has actually had that kind of effect on me: "Soothsayer" is the album's creepiest track thanks to mixing a haunting violin and piano theme with incongruously fast drums, an incredibly harsh guitar part, and distantly recorded religious chants. So in a perverse sort of way it starts out feeling like one of their most accessible records only to end up being one of their least.

Key Tracks: Ilyena, Ouroborous, Wax Simulcra