The Mars Volta: De-loused in the Comatorium [2003]

Posted: May 15, 2011 in The Mars Volta
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I thought I’d give The Mars Volta’s Deloused in the Comatorium a go due to the fact that someone played me a song of theirs  once when I was about 16 and I hated it. Since then, I’ve avoided the band like they’re some kind of  rare tropical disease. Things (after the rather strange intro) are kicked off with ‘Inertiatic ESP’ – a pretty middle-of-the-road sounding song from an emo band. I’m reminded of The Used here – hopefully this album’ll yield some greater fruit. ‘Roulette Dares (The Haunts Of)’ puts me straight though. It’s a twisting, noodling epic at nine and a half minutes long. As you’d expect it from a song of such length, it goes through many phases, and I’m being struck by the singer’s versatility. His quieter singing is as competent as his belting, and the band support him in ways that are paradoxically familiar-sounding and new-sounding. It feels like these guys think they’re doing something new, but aren’t, essentially.

There’s a haunting sound to the beginning of the next one, ‘Tira Me A Las Aranas’ which after about a minute of strange pings and echoes turns into what is actually a pretty good song, ‘Drunkship of Lanterns’. The singer’s cries of ‘NoboDIEEEESSSSSS heard’ are suitably ethereal to press some buttons. Again, the man’s ably supported by his band, who manage to consistently surprise the listener with some odd wrong-sounding riffage that fits the tone well. There’s some great guitar support at the end of the song, punchy, ace. Which, unfortunately, descends into weirdness once again.

‘Eriataka’ is a slower-starting song that is a real buildup to some further, more lovely-sounding and fast-paced weirdness. There’s a lovely guitar bit in this one, justifies the song to me completely. The vocalist and the guitar player really work together fantastically on this one, being lilting and dreamy one minute, urgent and frustrated the next. To quote Alan Partridge, this is ‘lovely stuff’. There’s a sense of the apocalyptic about this one that I like a lot.

There’s another long’un on the way, in  the form of ‘Cicatriz ESP’. Nearly thirteen minutes long. I mean, I’m all for epic-length stuff a la Metallica’s ‘Battery’. But it has to feel justified, and while this track has its moments, this just doesn’t seem worth it.’This Apparatus Must Be Unearthed’ is next, with some pretty unsettling-sounding guitars and a generally generically The Mars Volta sound. The addition of the singer wailing through a can is unlikely to pull me in. THe hook is good, though: ‘waiting for soooo long waiting for soooomeone to’ etc. I’m bored. There. I said it. This album’s been fine so far but they always seem to go back to the exact same sound, one that I’ve heard many times before in the 90s and from No Doubt.

The last two track I can’t be arsed with. Sorry The Mars Volta, you had you chance, but if you’ve saved the best for last, I’ll never know. Goodbye, and long may you push the overhyped cart of your ‘blue print for the future’ (Kerrang Magazine. They gave the album five K’s. I’d have taken a step back and demanded that firstly a half-K be invented and then that it be added to the three K’s I’d have given this album.


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