The Mars Volta are continual contenders for the mantle of most experimental high-profile metal group, along with System of a Down, an artist they've toured with but who usually sell 20 times more records. Mars Volta aren't as popular, not because their riffs are less memorable or innovative but because their cycle of musical buildup and release, although similarly jarring, can last at least 20 minutes instead of System's two. (It's the difference between having a background in acid rock and having one in thrash.) While the early reports on third album Amputechture commented that the duo of Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez had learned a few lessons about silence and forsaken the concept album, don't believe it.
There's a delicate balance between beauty and insanity. Especially in prog. El Paso's Mars Volta has dived head first into the abyss of self-indulgent, brain-fried wankery, but this you already knew. Like 2003 debut De-Loused in the Comatorium and last year's Frances the Mute, third studio LP Amputechture takes a long, exhausting drive down the dusty roads of West Texas druggy boredom, this time with Chili Pepper guitarist John Frusciante sitting shotgun.