The Mars Volta – Noctourniquet The Mars Volta – Noctourniquet

The Mars Volta - Noctourniquet

There have been few bands in my adult life which have been a companion through my vast trials and tribulations. Since 2003’s Deloused in a Comatorium,The Mars Volta has been by my side. It is important to note that I never really wanted them there or really enjoyed their presence but then again that does not really matter. Because I have chosen to befriend progressive rock fans and have taken an interest in the likes of Camel, Yes and Rush; The Mars Volta has been with and often times forced upon me. They were there in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, and 2009 to oversee my progression through adulthood. We have now reached 2012 and my old reluctant acquaintance is back once more. Perhaps, this album will be the one I finally enjoy.

To make an addendum, I enjoy the energy employed by the band and I think the split between the Mars Volta and Sparta perfectly separated At The Drive In’s mixture of progressive and post-hardcore elements. Omar Rodríguez-López with Cedric Bixler-Zavala have worked tirelessly to bring The Mars Volta to a special place. Whether or not I enjoy being in that space is another subject. 2009’s Octahedron was an important record because it not only broke the bands manic progressive journey but it also begun tension between the band’s two biggest personas. Noctourniquet was recorded in 2009 but then took 2 more years to complete and by all accounts, the new record sounds like sequel to the previous as well as a death rattle. I wish I could dismiss it as a harbinger of the end but I cannot; for the first time in a decade, I am actually interested in what The Mars Volta has to say.

Perhaps I enjoy this record, as I did with Octahedron, as it catches the Mars Volta with shadows of doubt. For the better part of the decade, the band has been confidently running at light speed trying to define the future sound of progressive hard rock. However, Noctourniquet has little direction. It is an album which floats in the middle and is unsure of the next step. For any other band this indecisiveness would be a mistake, for The Mars Volta, it may be their only hope.

At times, I do not even think the band knows what they want or what they are doing half the time. The lead single from the album “The Malikin Jewel” is incredibly frustrating and is one of the worst songs one the record. I am sorry, I meant “entire career.” I had food in my mouth. This is disappointing as “Dyslexicon,” or “Vermelady” could have been a more interesting pull for fans and people on the fence. Shit, even the song they gave to the MLB video game was more listenable than “Malikin Jewel.” The Mars Volta has grown to the level where their decisions are questioned constantly. Perhaps this is the fate of a polarizing band.

At the best of times, Noctourniquet is a record which passes without any major causes for annoyance. There are no long passages of noise or songs which require 15 minutes of note taking. As with the previous record, the band is awkwardly settling into a less complicated sound, much like a hyperactive child tries his best to sit still. Still, songs like “Empty Vessels Make the Loudest Sound” offer interesting complexity without sounding like the aural equivalent to a tangled ball of yarn.

Noctourniquet, while shedding over half of the progressive elements which used to be the band’s flagship, is still sadly self-centered. The band demands a lot of patience to listen to moody angular pop songs which either crawl or screech. I wish I could say that this record would be a good point to rejoin the band but it still only serves as a decent record compared to the spectacle of their last few. Retaining membership in Mars Volta’s fan club has become an endurance match as the band has asked for so much from listeners in the past ten years and has given very little. Fuck it, Ill be here in a few years to mark my height on the door frame.

The Whip Hand
Empty Vessels Make the Loudest Sound
The Malkin Jewel
In Abesntia
Trinkets Pale of Moon
Zed and Two Naughts

The Mars Volta - Noctourniquet, reviewed by Kaptain Carbon on 2012-04-06T11:07:03-07:00 rating 3.0 out of 5

Comments are closed.