I recently got into the band The Mars Volta at the beginning of the year by a friend's recommendation (thanks Josh 😍). They queued up Deloused in the Comatorium, and I witnessed what was one of the greatest prog rock albums I've ever been blessed with. The album was fast, loud, and abrasive filled with so many textures and soundscapes. That's when I fell in love with this band, and I had that album on heavy repeat for months to come. It was later until I was finally brave enough to encounter Frances the Mute. I had my doubts at first, because since I loved Deloused so much, I told myself this band could never top it. Well, I was wrong. Very wrong.
The album starts off very quiet with an acoustic introduction. It's very subtle and peaceful. But holy moly I wasn't even prepared for the song to explode so early on. Also, Cedric has grown to be one of my favorite vocalists ever, he wails on this entire album. It felt like I was on a rollercoaster in my own desk chair. I was so excited and I was moving along with the groove of Cygnus...Vismund Cygnus. I thought, 'Oh boy, this song is so intense there is no way this song can get better.' Then, the chorus of the song hit... "WHO DO YOUUUU TRUUUSSTTTT!!!" The rollercoaster finally dropped and I was screaming in excitement. Like, I had intense chills all over my body it was that amazing. The Mars Volta are excellent in the craft of buildups to melodic and pleasing choruses, and it really shows throughout this album. The song also progresses and switches up its style to keep the momentum going for the concept it's telling. This album really feels so cinematic, like not only does this album feel like a soundtrack, but a movie as well.
The Widow was the next track, as well as it being the shortest song on the album. That doesn't stop the song from being just as expansive as the last track. This song grips you to your core and pulls you in to the emotions it is bringing on. No wonder why this track is one of the band's most popular singles, it definitely deserves that hype for real. L'Via L'Viaquez brings the groove back into the album by adding latin music into the mix. I do the cha-cha like a sissy girl. The band shows on this track that they can fuse two completely different styles of music together and succeed so well at it. The hype hasn't died out at all during my listening experience. Things take a cooldown at the beginning of Miranda That Ghost Just Isn't Holy Anymore with a 5 minute ambient break. This album has been so hype that in my opinion it deserves its cooldown, especially at the right time too. This track is also the slowest song on the album, with it's compelling emotion and soft instrumentation. It adds to the themes of this album very well and makes it feel more cinematic than ever. I'm even more intrigued at this point, listening and vibing with what the concept unfolds. Then, Cassandra Gemini plays.
Cassandra Gemini is the final movement of this masterpiece (the song is also split up into many tracks on Spotify). It brings in all the themes and concepts shared throughout the whole album and brings them in for this 30 minute showcase of true musicianship. This is an excellent high point of the album, and definitely brings in one of the best climaxes of the whole record... "THERE IS NO LIIIIGGGHHTTTT!!! In the darkest of your furthest REACHEESSS!" The story draws near its conclusion as the music gets wilder and louder. The band gets more experimental as the song progresses, pumping you up as it builds up its extreme momentum. They even throw in a brass section, as well as a wild af noisy sax solo. Goddamn it makes me wanna start playing saxophone again for real. This track is a fantastic piece that keeps you engaged throughout its 32 minute long runtime. The track ends with an enchanting dissolve, and then all of a sudden a reprise from the first track plays, tightly wrapping this album up with a beautiful bow... "All my life, I've been sewing the wounds, but the seeds sprout a lachrymal cloud."
I wish I could've talked more about the story, but doing an analysis would be too long and I don't wanna overextend the character limit, so I'll make it brief. As my friend tells me, one of the band members (RIP Jeremy Michael Ward) found a diary in an abandoned car, detailing a wildly grim story of a man named Vismund Cygnus who searches for his mother, uncovering the mystery of her kidnapping and killing everyone who stood in his way. I highly recommend looking into the story more, as everyone has their own interpretations of the concept. One more thing to note, there was no ending to the story written in the diary, so the band members ended up filling in the blanks to finish the story the way they wanted to end it.
To wrap this review up, this album is... astounding. This album left me breathless from start to finish, leaving me captivated for a whole hour and 16 minutes. This and Deloused in the Comatorium puts all progressive concept albums to utter shame. The Mars Volta excellently crafted two of the best rock albums I've ever had the pleasure of putting my ears up to. Music has never given me so many chills and adrenaline running throughout my whole body as much as this band did.
If you got to this point of the review, I just want to say thank you for reading. I really enjoyed expressing my thoughts about the album in this review, and if you want to see more from me, just let me know. <3