American eccentric rockers The Mars Volta make their long-awaited return this week with the bands sixth studio album Noctourniquet and the sturdy 13 track stunner is a perfect and committed follow up to the bands last release, 2009’s Octahedron.
The band cast Noctourniquet out with a ‘concept album’ label firmly attached to it and although the story behind the record involves something about Solomon Grundy, a children’s nursery rhyme and the Greek myth of Hyacinthus, it all seems a little to contrived to take much notice and instead it just seems easier to put the details on a shelf for a rainy day that may never come and just enjoy the tracks the band have put together for us with as less confusion as possible.
Though its been a 3 year gap between studio releases for The Mars Volta, Noctourniquet quickly makes up for lost time as we are brought up to speed with the records opening number, The Whip Hand. A beautiful collision of progressive rock riffs, vocal wailing and electronic twists and turns through a meaty five minutes ushers us into the bands most impressive and musically appealing releases to date.
Symphonic rock notables Dyslexicon and Aegis prove to be early hits that are soaked in psychedelic guitar riffs and some distinctive and nasal heavy vocal loops setting the tracks apart from the rest of the track-listing on two of the finest highlights featured on Noctourniquet.
Further down the track-listing we are offered one of the records most indie influenced additions in the form of Lapochka as front man Cedric Bixler-Zavala repeats his declaration of “how long must I wait” around a minimalistic yet effective, spacey, instrumental backdrop.
Musically the bands sounds is much more diverse and complex than previous Mars Volta releases. Earlier, less commercial cuts have been traded in for an almost hypnotic, enveloping maturity that pulls together multiple genres and creates a collection brimming with enigmatic and cohesive gems. The production of Noctourniquet also stands out and you can hear, when you really listen, just how much work has gone into the records development and the attention each of the tracks have been given throughout their creation, even down to the almost unpronounceable names given to each of the 13 additions, something The Mars Volta have become renowned for on each of the bands previous releases.
Noctourniquet is a credible and creatively applausable return for a band who seem to go through continued changes musically, as well as within the bands line-up, more times than most bands can survive but the heart of The Mars Volta still beats with as much force as when the collective were formed back in 2001 and with as much passion to their craft. Perhaps that is the reason why each of the bands releases sound more mature as the years go by and why they continue to bring something new to the table every time.
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