The Mars Volta | Noctourniquet

Warner Bros. (2012)
By DANIEL BROCKMAN  |  April 17, 2012
3.0 3.0 Stars


The Mars Volta sprang forth from the '90s avant-punk of At the Drive-In. The duo of vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala and guitarist/wunderkind Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (and an army of rhythm sections and hired-gun sidemen) spent the ensuing decade filling five long-players with some of the densest, thorniest, busiest avant-skronk-jazz-prog-salsa-crunk-rock-indie-fusion ever committed to wax. Their veiled aesthetic is one of inscrutability writ large, but with enough solid jam-band full-body impact to maintain a mainstream rock following through even the weirdest out-Björking-Björk moves. In a sense, the veil is lifted ever-so-slightly with this new one: although they still wump you with weird on sonic gauntlets like "Molochwalker" and the title track, they also hit on some great choruses and comprehensible songcraft that, unlike most of their earlier work, is commendable for something other than the effort it took to create it, especially on the crunge-y "Malkin Jewel" and the haunting closer "Zed and Two Naughts." I'm sure that, live, the band still continue to drive the audience to the walls with their demented dervishes, but with Noctourniquet they've fashioned a song-cycle that at last (as the album cover maybe depicts?) provides a front door for the listener to enter through.

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