Despite the myriad accolades heaped upon their final album Relationship of Command
, that massively laudatory reception couldn't prevent the underground rock outfit At The Drive-In from disbanding shortly after the album's release.
In the wake of the band's dissolution, two new groups were formed - Sparta and The Mars Volta - and, due to the former's inherently conservative nature, it was the more ambitious latter band that became the recipient of effusive praise from critics.
That's actually somewhat surprising, as The Mars Volta transparently embrace the trappings of the much-maligned prog/rock genre. Whereas most musical forms follow trends, and pass in and out of favor with alarming regularity, prog/rock has retained the stigma it inherited through the contempt and disdain of the antithetical punk rock movement decades ago. Ergo given that most prog/rock acts are still derided as pompous bombastic dinosaurs, it's surprising that a band that so religiously adheres to the tenets of the despised genre could win over a vast segment of the critical establishment.
By the time of The Mars Volta's first full-length release, De-Loused in the Comatorium
, the band had already cultivated something of a cult following, thanks to the underground success of the EP Tremulant
, along with a rather impressive live reputation. Needless to say the band's previous pedigree was also instrumental in attracting a new audience, as At The Drive-In loyalists were quick to support Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler Zavala in their latest endeavor.
Given its status as a neo-prog album, it goes without saying that De-Loused In the Comatorium
features complex instrumentation, but the album's ambitions extend well beyond dexterous musicianship. The concept underlying it was inspired by the overdose of a childhood friend, though in all honesty the elegant seamless transitions between songs account for far more of the album's cohesive feel than any obscure storytelling.
by Reviewer: Evan Lublinski
(blogging at Evan Lublinski's Album Reviews