The Mars Volta
The Bedlam in Goliath


The Mars Volta subscribes to the notion that “more is always more,” said Joe Gross in Spin. When Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez started The Mars Volta back in 2001, they dumped their old emo personas for “proggy expansionism.” They didn’t just grow up but grew out, becoming an experimental metal band “determined to fill every millisecond with notes, beats, sound effects, or Bixler-Zavala’s inchoate howl.” Yet, the El Paso, Texas, group’s latest effort, The Bedlam in Goliath, falls short of the bracing sonic intensity of The Mars Volta’s best work. Inspired by an antique Ouija board, this album plays like an “occult mind game,” said Tom Moon in Blender. The best songs, such as “Metatron” and the monstrous “Goliath,” take the band’s signature strengths—“cryptic lyrics, cliffhanging cries, spine-twisting rhythms”—and hone them into a “screaming arrow of sound.” When The Mars Volta doesn’t practice that self-control, The Bedlam in Goliath suffers for it, said Jason Heller in The Onion. The band has such problems with over-indulgence that it frequently strangles great songs with prog-rock clichés. “Aberinkula” sounds like three songs rolled into one, and “Ilyena” houses possibly the “unfunkiest funk ever made.” If only The Mars Volta understood that every writer needs an editor, The Bedlam in Goliath might have measured up to more than just a “splat of concepts and virtuosity that never coheres.”