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YMMV / The Mars Volta

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  • Archive Panic: Sure, they might have only six studio albums, one live album, and an EP (in addition to a few B-sides here and there), but since bootlegging is encouraged at their shows, almost every concert they've ever played can be easily downloaded. The result? Several dozen gigabytes of MP3 files to hear all of their live material. Necessary for completionists because they frequently mutate improvised sections into new songs, and even those that aren't reused still kick ass.
    • More so with Omar Rodriguez Lopez' solo albums: In 2016 alone he released 12 studio albums. There are also a ton of other spin-off projects and precursors - among them, Bosnian Rainbows, Antemasque, Zavalaz, One Day as a Lion, De Facto, The Fall on Deaf Ears, and of course At the Drive-In, though not all of these have released much (or any) material.
  • Awesome Music: The bass intro and guitar/saxophone duel from "Day of the Baphomets" probably count.
    • The entire albums of De-Loused in the Comatorium and Frances the Mute qualify, but special mention goes to the 32 minute end track on Frances the Mute, "Cassandra Gemini."
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    • The band's later albums have their moments. "Vedamalady" stands out as a particular highlight from Noctourniquet.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Their Word Salad Lyrics have a few, but "The kiosk in my temporal lobe is shaped like Rosalynn Carter" (First Lady of President Jimmy Carter) stands out.
  • Broken Base: Not very prevalent, actually, but there are certain fans who will argue over the better drummer was Pridgen or Theodore; it's almost certain that Elitch will be a topic of argument.
    • Elitch was apparently only a temporary drummer, and he's been replaced by Deantoni Parks, someone the fans can all pretty much agree is a good fit (because really).
    • Do not ever start the debate over which is better: De-Loused or Frances the Mute. Odds are you'll get several page-long arguments.
      • On that note, strangely enough, Frances the Mute itself. It's either a complete masterpiece of both the band's career and even progressive rock as a whole, or it's the textbook definition of a Sophomore Slump and a case of a band going way too far on only their second album, cramming too many ideas and seemingly not knowing what to do with them. (It's also not too difficult to find people who will argue that it's a flawed masterpiece that could've been flawless if the band had trimmed the ambient sections and maybe inserted the title track.)
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    • The band's later albums seem to be less universally liked among the fanbase than the earlier ones, possibly because of the band's move away from Progressive Rock and Epic Rocking; however, there are quite a few fans who like all the band's work. Octahedron seems to be their most contentious release.
    • More the fanbase of At the Drive-In than anything else, but do not ask an At The Drive-In fan if The Mars Volta or Sparta (the post-hardcore band formed by former members of At The Drive-In due to their distaste for the prog direction Cedric Bixler and Omar Rodriguez were heading in) is better, you're likely to get insults hurled unjustly at either side of the former band (who seem to be on good terms, particularly given At the Drive-In's reunion).
    • ATDI versus TMV arguments can also get pretty heated among fans of either band; though probably the majority of fans of both bands like both projects just fine, most of them have a preference for one or the other, and sometimes it's a pretty vocal one.
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    • Even among their fans, the band's live show can sometimes be a case of this, mostly being down to whether people enjoy their improvisation or not. (To be fair, a lot more of their fans probably enjoy their live shows than not.)
  • Creepy Awesome: Frances the Mute as a whole.
    • Nearly all of their output fits this to some degree or other, really.
  • Epileptic Trees: It was rumoured that "Zed and Two Naughts" was their swan song and that they would break up. Harsher in Hindsight when you consider that when Omar announced the band's hiatus, he stated that he was unsure if the band will ever reunite. Made WORSE when it was announced the band was splitting up following disagreements between Omar and Cedric. This also became a rather unwanted case of I Knew It!, although it can also be considered moot since Omar and Cedric reconciled and formed Antemasque (and reunited At the Drive-In), with Omar giving some hints about TMV reuniting when time allows it, and Cedric confirming that a reunion will occur at some point in the future.
  • Face of the Band: Omar and Cedric, but arguably justified in that it is explicitly stated in the liner notes for Amputechture that they are The Mars Volta and that the rest of the band are part of The Mars Volta Group.
    • Recently Omar has stated that he wants to make The Mars Volta more of a democracy.
  • First Installment Wins: The band's first two (sometimes three) albums are generally their most popular and widely acclaimed. The others are still fairly well liked, though.
  • Funny Moments: The music video for Goliath has the band not even trying to play along with the song. Highlights include Omar playing a violin and the song stopping halfway through because a car was coming through their set.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • Their lyrics, word salad though they may be, are littered with them. An especially subtle one is the title of "Cassandra Gemini", which becomes a Meaningful Name with some knowledge of Classical Mythology. Cassandra is the name of the cursed seer in The Iliad whose warnings about the future were ignored by everyone around her, while "Gemini" is Latin for "twins". Cassandra in the song is a split personality from Frances, making her Frances' "twin", so to speak, and a major theme of the album is Frances's inability to communicate her traumas to the people around her, both because of her own muteness and other people's apathy. Furthermore, in the album's story Frances was raped by priests in a church, while the mythical Cassandra was raped by Greek soldiers in a temple to Athena during the fall of Troynote , adding another layer of meaning to the name.
    • Another example in "Cassandra Gemini"; the line "Night forevermore" is sung repeatedly in the first half of the song, which, combined with the song's later mention of ravens, seems to be a deliberate Shout-Out to Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: The entire story of Frances the Mute given the ordeal Cedric and especially his wife Chrissy have been through over the past few years. Suffice it to say that if you have sexual assault/abuse triggers you should probably not seek out more information about this, but the basics are described in TMV's Nightmare Fuel page.
  • He Panned It, Now He Sucks!: The infamous Pitchfork review of Frances the Mute caused this reaction from many fans, though in all honesty the publication had already attained a negative reputation among fans of Progressive Rock for what they considered a Bias Steamroller against the genre even before it published the review. (To be fair, it has let up on this somewhat in more recent years.)
  • Ho Yay: Honestly Omar and Cedric are very guilty of this.
    • It's gotten to the point where Omar acknowledged it in an interview
  • Jump Scare: On Frances the Mute, every song transitions into the next via ambient soundscapes that can last up to a full minute. The final song, "Cassandra Gemini", simply starts full-blast in the middle of the final ambient segue.
  • Signature Song: "L'via L'viaquez" or "The Widow".
  • Squick: The lyrics of Frances the Mute, especially the title track, are loaded with enough subtly disturbing sexual imagery to make a Silent Hill game blush. Arguably justified given the subject matter.
  • Tear Jerker:
    • "Televators", as well as a few other tracks on De-Loused. Kind of inevitable when the album is about suicide.
    • "Empty Vessels Make the Loudest Sounds", which gives us this lyric:
    All I have to do is forgive your broken heart...
    • "With Twilight as My Guide", a somber, haunting ballad about the Salem Witch Trials.
    • Also from Octahedron is "Copernicus", which is one of the most beautiful songs the band has done.
    • From Noctourniquet, the last three songs, each in different ways.
    • Isaiah "Ikey" Owens's abrupt death, which shocked Omar and Cedric to no extent. Same could be said to the tragic death of Jeremy Michael Ward before the release of De-Loused as well.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: The band gets this reaction a lot. Some of At the Drive-In's fans weren't too happy about TMV including prog influence on their music. And then some of TMV's fans weren't too happy about TMV lightening the prog influence on their later material.
  • Tough Act to Follow: Their later material is good to great, but it's generally agreed that they never managed to reach the same heights as their first two albums after Frances the Mute.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: Kind of a given when a band incorporates this much Mind Screw into its works.
  • The Woobie: After all the horrible things that have happened to Cedric and his immediate family (from what happened to his wife, constantly losing friends to tragic deaths, and projects never coming into fruition), you really just want to give them hugs. Omar, too.

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