The Mars Volta - Octahedron
Aug 2, 2020
It could potentially be said that Octahedron is the closest we could come to The Mars Volta Lite. The songs are far more subdued in many points, floating in a progressive and psychedelic space but more subtly. It's a contrast between the peak of an acid trip and the quiet comedown hours later; a collection of four albums that mystify, and a fifth album that is so worn down from the high that it's time to ease up.

One of the most apparent Lite portions of Octahedron is the song and album length. At a far more modest 50 minutes, The Mars Volta go for only two thirds the length of their usual format, leaving these eight songs at a far more often manageable pace. For people less interested in the long-winded and sprawling epics that The Mars Volta are prone to indulge in, their fifth album should offer something different.

The energy of the songs also seems to be a little farther on the calm end, although this is not always the case. Cotopaxi and Desperate Graves are sure to get the blood boiling like their previous work, but two full songs here never reach an explosive climax. This is an entirely new idea for The Mars Volta, who aren't the type to keep things so toned down. Their flurry occurs, but isn't so long-lasting that you never have the chance to breathe.

Octahedron is still full of experimental moments and general whimsy. I could see long time fans feeling less inclined to return to this album, and that is likely fair; it is likely their least interesting up to this point. However, the album is still more impressive and more interesting to listen to than a great deal of music out there. The Mars Volta are just at that level of engagement in their music, even at the comedown of the high.

Favorite track: Halo of Nembutals

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