honestly, what a fantastic debut. The Mars Volta came into the music landscape with an absolute titan of an opening statement, cementing them and their sound as one of the greats of the 2000s. Deloused is a masterpiece in modern prog-rock, taking clear influence from the genre's founders and updating them for a truly modern experience. every song here is insanely technical and impressively performed, filled to the brim with little embellishments and quirks that give the album a ton of personality and replayability. sitting down and dissecting all the parts of just one of these songs would take hours, if i'm being honest. the sheer density of these tracks can be a lot to take in, so i get why some people can get overwhelmed by TMV's sound, but i absolutely love it.
since i heard Frances the Mute first before Deloused, i can't help myself comparing the two. Deloused is much more accessible than Frances, with it's shorter song lengths and overall sound. while yes, the songs here are incredibly dense and complex, i still think Frances takes it to the next level in that department. the story of Deloused also plays a key component in the sound of the album - to give a brief summary, this dude named Cerpin Taxt purposely overdoses on drugs, enters a coma, and each song here is his hallucinations while trapped in the Comatorium - a made up word i am just now realizing. it probably means just somewhere they take care of people in comas, but wouldnt that just be a hospital? who cares, TMV makes up words all the fucking time, it's kinda their thing. to get back on topic, because Deloused is essentially a hallucinogenic fever dream, the sound takes on a more psychedelic and wild tone than Frances or any other album in TMV's discography. you get weird, reverby guitar plucking like in the beginning to Drunkship of Lanterns, the drone sections feel weirder and more surreal, everything just has a uneasy and feel, as though nothing is really right. everything feels just a bit off.
we begin with a foggy, surreal drone that slowly builds in intensity, before ramping up into the first real track, Intertiatic ESP, which is a fantastic jam full of intense blasts of energy. Cedric's vocals power through the frantic instrumentals with cries of "NOW I'M LOST" and in general steal the show on this song. but that's not to say the instrumentation isnt itself fantastic - the song keeps chugging along with these blasts of speedy and heavy guitar and drum fills shotgunning in here and there to ramp up the energy of the song. it eventually fades into another drone, building up and setting the stage for the amazing following song, Roulette Dares. this track perfectly emphasizes one of the best qualities of Deloused - dynamics. while yes, many of the songs here are blisteringly fast and technical, there are some slower and more tangible moments too, and i'm not just talking about the drones. tracks like Roulette Dares and Televators have nice, less blistering segments that remain enjoyable but add incredible flow and pacing to the entire album. instead of feeling like one big monolith of power, it's an easily digestible jam that blows through its 60 minute runtime.
another one of my all-time favorite The Mars Volta tracks has to be Cicatriz ESP. the longest song here, 12 minutes, plays more like a Frances the Mute track with the long drony section in the middle and bookends of fantastic prog rock, but what sets this song apart is Cedric's vocals. holy shit, can this dude fucking belt out some of the best rock vocals i've ever heard. be it the heavenly layered vocals when he says "nothing left at AAAAALLLLLLLL" or the incredible, INCREDIBLE chorus "IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII'VE DEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEFEEEEECTED," this track is an absolute rock opera in it's scale and energy. it's like an entire album in one song, and i fucking love it. the more lyrical beginning eventually transitions into a great jam sesh in the second fourth of the track, giving a much needed breath before transitioning into a super wobbly and uneasy drone, it's like a stomach ache in audio form. the song closes with a reprise of the beginning, but with even more strength to it. it's just a fantastic, fantastic track.
Deloused is truly an amazing debut, and an amazing album to boot. while some tracks feel less potent than others (Drunkship of Lanterns and Televators, specifically), and while not being as ambitious of a project as Frances the Mute, Deloused in the Comatorium stands as one of the best prog-rock albums of the 21st century, and dare i say it, all time. this thing just kicks ass, man. if you're looking to get into The Mars Volta, i highly recommend this as a starting place.
FAVORITE - Cicatriz ESP, Roulette Dares, This Apparatus Must Be Unearthed, Inertiatic ESP, Eriatarka
LEAST FAVORITE - Televators