They sing about seraph snouts and cruciform limps.
The Mars Volta
are full of shit. And I think they know it. But some of rock’s best bands were full of shit. Pink Floyd? Full of shit. Led Zeppelin? Full of shit. Radiohead? Full of shit most of the time. But that’s why I love the Mars Volta. Who else could write a 16-minute epic called “Tetragrammaton” and get away with it? Not Foo Fighters, that’s for sure.
Still, the band wants us to believe that its new album, The Bedlam in Goliath
, was put together with the help of a Ouija Board-like toy called the Soothsayer (for a complete rundown, read my interview with singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala
). That certainly would explain lines like “Primordial cymatics giving birth into reverse/Serrated mare ephemera/Undo her mother’s curse.” But I don’t buy it. The Mars Volta have always been a complicated group ...
Whatever. What drives this band is the same thing that drove At the Drive-In, where Bixler-Zavala and guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez got their start: loud, turbulent, and winding music that’s as oblique as it is visceral. It makes for tricky and complex songs. And one hell of a live show. --Michael Gallucci
The Mars Volta performs at 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 14, at House of Blues, 308 Euclid Avenue. Tickets are $35, available by calling 216-523-2583. For a preview, listen to “Ilyena” below.