Album Review: The Mars Volta – Noctourniquet
After six albums The Mars Volta never fail to impress with their unique blend of progressive rock and dynamic experimentation. ‘Noctourniquet’ comes packed with the aggressive yet distinctive sound that they produce so elegantly. I’ve been waiting three years for this since their last album ‘Octahedron’ and it’s definitely what you expect from The Mars Volta and so much more.
The Mars Volta are a progressive rock band that combine different genres of rock together like jazz, latin, psychedelic, experimental and math rock and they also incorporate other genres into their musical armour. The band come from El Paso of Texas in the United States and consists primarily of Cedric Bixler-Zavala on lead vocals and Omar Rodríguez-López on guitar. It’s fascinating that the band has released a new album so close to the reunion of At the Drive In (The project the members of The Mars Volta had before). It’s almost like the band or the record company just don’t want fans to forget about The Mars Volta.
‘Noctourniquet’ consists of thirteen peculiar and insane tracks. ‘The Whip Hand’ is an ingenious song that has soaring vocals from lead singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala and flawless guitar-playing from Omar Rodríguez-López. It’s lyrics “I am a landmine, I am a landmine/So don’t you step on me, don’t you step on me” relay the frustrations of someone who is tired of being manipulated. ‘Aegis’ is a calmer track with powerful drumming from Deantoni Parks and sublime vocals from Cedric. ‘Dyslexicon’ has more of a belting drum beat from Deantoni and smart experimentation. ‘Empty Vessels Make the Loudest Sound’ is one of the longest tracks but that doesn’t make it bad because the vocals from Cedric, guitar riffs from Omar and drumming from Deantoni are still gorgeous. This is one of the tracks on the album where Cedric’s vocals are at their best with the heights of falsetto he attains throughout.
‘The Malkin Jewel’ is Noctourniquet’s lead single and there’s no guessing why because it’s catchy and experimental. The beginning of the track confuses you and makes you think the record is playing up before it bursts out some incredible sounds. The following songs are just as perfect as the ones I’ve already mentioned and don’t fail to carry on giving you a jaw dropping experience. As on previous albums, neither Isaiah Owens plays keyboard or John Frusciante contributes any guitar parts, primarily because the album is led by strong synths and experimentation. This is also the first album where Deantoni Parks plays drums.
Noctourniquet is mostly progressive rock with extreme use of experimentation. The Mars Volta prove that progressive rock isn’t a dying genre of music and is still as popular today as it was 40 years ago. My favourite track is ‘The Malkin Jewel’ because it has such a catchy rhythm and immense vocals. I love how the track starts off really loud, then slows down and finishes on a bang again.
I’m going to give ‘Noctourniquet’ 5 out of 5 because everything about it is spectacular; the vocals, drumming, guitar riffs are all spot on. All of these elements are used to create a beautiful, haunting and strange album that will have you coming back for more. I would definitely recommend that you go out as soon as you can, pick this album up and indulge yourself with The Mars Volta. If you are listening to The Mars Volta for the first time then expect to be dazzled and impressed by them.