The Mars Volta De-Loused in the Comatorium

[Universal; 2003]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: post punk, prog
Others: Sparta, At The Drive-In, Queens of the Stone Age, King Crimson

I just want to get one thing clear before I start this review: the demise of At The Drive-In was shocking and utterly disappointing to me. Furthermore, their break-up was possibly at the worst time of their collective career. Relationship of Command was the most precious record to be released in 2000. TMT visionary writer Rather Ripped said it most beautifully in his review: “Relationship of Command is the greatest rock album I have heard in the last ten years”. Perhaps he was a little excessive with his comment (sorry Radiohead fans) but nonetheless, he had a good point. Relationship of Command was going to be hard to beat. And maybe the boys from ATDI knew that and decided to go out strong and on top of their game. But as time went by, the fork in the road created two paths for the members of ATDI: One under the name of Sparta, the other the Mars Volta.

“Good things happen to those who wait."  Boy I’ve heard that one many times as a kid. Waiting for two hours outside in freezing cold weather to see your favourite band play was always difficult. But once you got in and the performance started, the wait was worth it. ATDI fans have been waiting for a long time for the Mars Volta to release the follow-up to their teaser EP Tremulant. The EP was a good indication of where the Mars Volta was going to go, taking ATDI’s musical formula and expand on it. Unlike Sparta, who sound like the reincarnation of Jane’s Addiction, Cedric Bixler and Omar Rodriguez kept close to their original blueprint.  

De-Loused in the Comatorium is the proper follow-up to ATDI’s 2000 release Relationship of Command. Admittedly, the band has grown into its own identity, expanding their sound using influences from jazz, reggae and Latin music to emerge as one of today’s hottest and talented neo-prog, indie rock bands. Add Cedric’s constant shrieks, howls, and social commentary and you have an earful of flavourful, imaginative and cognitive music. They have also pushed the boundaries of music on De-Loused in the Comatorium, adding electronics and sampling effects to create a denser and disturbing record. Overall, the Mars Volta is the progression and anticipation of where ATDI was to take their established resonance and collective. 

The album is full of high-octane, energy driven anthems with songs like “Inertiatic ESP," “Drunkship of Lanterns," and “This Apparatus Must Be Unearthed”. These songs are performed with utmost soul and conviction. Cedric Bixler delivers mind blowing vocal ranges and an intelligent but confusing repartee as Omar and the band accompanies with spine-tingling, disjointed musical instrumentation reminiscent of Led Zeppelin on “Dazed & Confused." The album takes no time to reach its peak with “Roulette Dares," the best track of the entire album. And throughout the album, the tempo is frequently changed from towering momentum rock and roll to leisurely acoustic ballads. Overall, the songs on De-Loused in the Comatorium are well balanced and interconnected to create a pleasurable and surprising listening experience.

So was the Mars Volta’s follow-up full-length album worth the wait? “Good things happen to those who wait”. I’ll have to agree with that statement again. De-Loused in the Comatorium is a very strong debut album for the Mars Volta.  But don’t tell them that; they may be liable to break up shortly after its release. ***Our sincere condolences and regards to the friends and family of Jeremy Michael Ward. R.I.P.***

1. Son & lumiere
2. Inertiatic ESP
3. Roulette dares
4. Tira me a las aranas
5. Drunkship of lanterns
6. Eriatarka
7. Cicatriz ESP
8. This apparatus must be unearthed
9. Televators
10. Take the veil cerpin taxt