9 Songs, 50 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

The Mars Volta has steadily built steam since debuting in 2003. The title of its fifth studio album, Octahedron, refers to an eight-sided geometric shape and the full-length features eight epic tracks that characteristically hold unexpected twists, turns, and tempo shifts. As usual, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez is credited with writing the music, Cedric Bixler Zavala is responsible for the lyrics and vocals, and a host of members comprise the larger band (including John Frusciante of Red Hot Chili Peppers). About five minutes into the gradually evolving opener, “Since We’ve Been Wrong,” snare-heavy drums join the fold and then pick up the pace on “Teflon,” where reverb-drenched guitars kick in and Zavala’s slightly sinister vocals deliver wounded, seething sentiments. Following a funky, head-bang-inducing “Cotopaxi,” the “Copernicus” ballad walks down a seven-minute path where listeners briefly encounter electronica-esque instrumentation. The theatrical cauldron continues to fester until concluding with “Luciforms” — with Zavala sounding as vengeful as ever throughout the apocalyptic journey.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The Mars Volta has steadily built steam since debuting in 2003. The title of its fifth studio album, Octahedron, refers to an eight-sided geometric shape and the full-length features eight epic tracks that characteristically hold unexpected twists, turns, and tempo shifts. As usual, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez is credited with writing the music, Cedric Bixler Zavala is responsible for the lyrics and vocals, and a host of members comprise the larger band (including John Frusciante of Red Hot Chili Peppers). About five minutes into the gradually evolving opener, “Since We’ve Been Wrong,” snare-heavy drums join the fold and then pick up the pace on “Teflon,” where reverb-drenched guitars kick in and Zavala’s slightly sinister vocals deliver wounded, seething sentiments. Following a funky, head-bang-inducing “Cotopaxi,” the “Copernicus” ballad walks down a seven-minute path where listeners briefly encounter electronica-esque instrumentation. The theatrical cauldron continues to fester until concluding with “Luciforms” — with Zavala sounding as vengeful as ever throughout the apocalyptic journey.

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Ratings and Reviews

4.5 out of 5
465 Ratings
465 Ratings
nickname2684048 ,

Octahedron

Track By Track

Credits: Not much to say about this. It establishes a cool motif used throughout the album. No Rating.
Since We've Been Wrong: This song got bashed on the Comatorium, mostly because of its differences from its live New Year's Eve debut. It's probably the Mars Volta's most conventional song, ever. It reminds me a bit of Televators, especially with the call-and-response chorus. Personally I'm a fan. It depends what side of the Mars Volta you prefer. i give it an 8/10.
Teflon: This song is a fairly consistent favorite among reviewers, and for good reason. It's very dance-able, even with its over-the-top morbid lyrics about execution. 8/10.
Halo of Nembutals: The beginning of this song is really interesting. Supposedly Omar used one of Jeremy's old sound manipulations that didn't end up getting used in De-Loused. I was hoping this ambience would continue throughout the song and develop into a subtle, dark ballad. However, about a minute in, the drums kick in, and everything gets loud. Cedric's vocals are pretty lousy for the remainder of the song. Nothing special. 6/10.
With Twilight as My Guide: Now THIS was the subtle, dark ballad i was hoping for. Very ambient and eerie. Cedric sounds beautiful throughout the song. Definitely one of my favorites on the album. 9/10.
Cotopaxi: Cotopaxi is the heaviest song on the album. It's a real wake-up call after WTAMG. Cedric mentioned that it was one of the most difficult songs to write vocals for, due to its complex time signature. It holds the album together quite well, despite its forgettability. 7/10.
Desperate Graves: Desperate Graves is nothing special. Cedric sounds adequate. The bridge stands out and one of the better parts of the album. The song grew on me since my first listen. 7/10.
Copenicus: This song is a grower as well. On the first listen, it'll sound fragmented and unsure of its self. It is relatively minimalist on Omar's part. There is also a strange, experimental electronic beat in the middle of the song. After a few listens, though, i've come to find it heartbreakingly beautiful. I love every part of this song. 9.5/10.
Luciforms: Luciforms is even better than Copernicus. I look forward to seeing this one live. There are a lot of Pink Floyd influences in the first half of the song. From the bridge onward, the song sounds like it could fit in well on their "Frances the Mute" album. Cedric's lyrics in the bridge are some of his best yet. It finishes off with one of Omar's signature solos. 10/10.

Overall, Octahedron is a very fulfilling album. Not one of the Mars Volta's best, but it is much better than its predecessor, the Bedlam in Goliath. Definitely worth the purchase.

The DARK ,

Abuse of the $1.29 price

Shame on the record labels (and to some extent, itunes) for overpricing this album. What are you getting except a collection of files for the same price that you could be holding an actual album carefully crafted by the band? The price advantage was the only thing that gave itunes music files an advantage over a vinyl album or cd; now that line is thinning. The "digital booklet" is nearly worthless and far more trouble than it's worth. If you can, support your local record stores and the bands they promote.

That said, this album is an interesting departure for the Mars Volta. Omar definitely makes his presence felt here. There's far less bludgeoning this time around and a lot more of their trademark wildly inventive melody. In my opinion, that's a definite step forward for this band.

jackdog307 ,

The Anti-Bedlam.

I must say, having had this album for a couple weeks now, I am thoroughly enjoying it. I've always known that TMV have been capable of writing such elegant and hauntingly beautiful songs, like "Televators" or "The Widow", so in a way, after the all out nuclear bomb of an album that was Bedlam, this was the kind of album I was waiting for them to make, and lemme tell you, I am loving it. For me, "Since We've Been Wrong" rivals "Televators" as the band's best ballad, and my love for "Televators" is endless... that's how much I'm digging this song. True, it is more than a little jarring to hear an actual song on a Volta record w/o Omar jumping in w/ the most technically crazy guitar solo you've ever heard, and yes, they are few and far between on this album, but I feel that, if I want the Volta at their most insane, I'll throw in Bedlam... if I want something a little softer, I'll stick w/ Octahedron. If you've never heard a Mars Volta album, I think this would probably be the place to start... for existing Volta fans, don't worry too much, it's still the Omar & Company, w/ the volume around 6 instead of 11. For me though, one of the best albums of the year, hands down.

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