After a nearly three year silence, El Paso’s very own Mars Volta has returned with their sixth studio album, Noctourniquet.
A lot has changed since we last saw the team, such as the departure of beastly drummer Thomas Pridgen. Known for his raw energy and “just want to fuck shit up” attitude, he is now a cornerstone of Bay Area rock outfit, The Memorials. He has since been replaced by the more finely tuned, precision drumming of Deantoni Parks.
Also missing from the family this time around, is the most tenured participant of the The Mars Volta, Isaiah “Ikey” Owens. Since 2001, he was the keyboardist for TMV, but was not asked to return on this most recent endeavor. We don’t know what the true story is, but rumor has it that he has been focusing on production and his work with Crystal Antlers.
Overall, this is a very different take at previous TMV records, as Omar has come to terms with his tyrannical ways, and is giving everyone more of a say in the album. You can definitely feel it, as there are more keys, and a lot less guitars. His brother Marcel has fully taken the key role now, and with it, we hear more of a Zechs Marquise-ish feel. Personally, I thought it was a pretty interesting change. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Marcel, and the dude is full of talent that can shine even brighter on this album.
But let’s talk about my favorites of the album.
Noctourniquet, the title and twelfth track on the album is my first favorite, with eerie echoing and programing throughout the intro, something I think has become a staple of TMV. The song has a very fast cymbal section during the chorus, but the best sections are the bass guitar breakdowns during the verses.
Track five is probably the most familiar, with it being the single everyone has come to know and love. The Malkin Jewel’s lyrics are gritty and raw, giving me nostalgia back to the first album of TMV. The shining star on this song is Deantoni Parks, his drum skills burning through the capabilities of a drumming machine. His hits are the cleanest cuts of any Mars Volta drummer thusfar. Some people may not like it, but it’s interesting to hear the dark breakdown starting a little more than halfway through the song. Marcel’s organs, Deantoni’s drums, and the droning vocals make this an easy favorite. If you have a system, listen for the beautifully placed, single powerful bass kick in the final third of the song.
My favorite song on the album is track three, Dyslexicon. I feel as if it is a testament to the progress the Mars Volta has made over the years. It feels like natural growth in the right direction. Juan on the bass holds it down thoroughly, and the kick-snare-kick, snare-kick-snare we hear for a few seconds around the thirty second mark had me rewinding the song half a dozen times. Omar’s guitar dance softly in the background, but come back strong in the powerful choruses by Cedric, before leading out in a screamed anthem. The whole band comes together at 3:10, Cedric repeating the words “That’s why I repent, that’s why I go under!” Of course the band goes crazy to close out the song, before drifting effortlessly into the next track.
In my years at Behind the Hype, I’ve probably talked about The Mars Volta more times than other band, and for good reason. It’s always an experience, and I am curious how the live shows will turn out. Their Irvine show a few years back still stands as my favorite concert of all time. Also interesting, will be to see how Deantoni’s surgical precision on the drums will play out with previous beasts of the Mars Volta drummer lineage. Only time will tell!
Noctourniquet is out now, so grab a copy, and celebrate!
Until next time my friends,