Musings on music delivered when I dig myself out.

Mars Volta -- De-Loused in the Comatorium
Universal Records; 2003

It's been said that from destruction comes creation. On De-Loused in the Comatorium, Mars Volta puts this phrase into practice. Born from the loins of the late At the Drive-In, Mars Volta created a huge buzz based solely on one EP and their live shows. If there is a time to believe the hype, it's now, as De-Loused encapsulates all the fury and creativity Mars Volta can offer in album form. The record runs the gamut of musical genres in order to narrate the story of a friend in a coma. The album offers 10 songs of frantic avante-rock, bombastic Latin rhythms, sprawling ambience and programming that could make lap-toppers jealous.

Vocalist Cedric Bixler provides his most astounding vocal performance to date with a delivery that varies from crooning to plain shouting in your face. His raging falsetto gives his cryptic and strangely poetic lyrics like "exoskeletal junction at the railroad delayed" the punch they need to be convincing. Guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez lands blazing guitar lines that are equal parts classic rock riffing ("Roulette Dares [The Haunt of]") and punk rock pummeling ("Drunkship of Lanterns"). The outrageous rhythm section comprised of recruited-bassist Flea and skin-beater Jon Theodore ensures that hips will shake and heads will nod. Not be forgotten is the late sound manipulator James Ward, who put his singular twist on each song to create a curiously epic feel.

De-Loused in the Comatorium feels like one ambitious voyage the whole way through -- each song contains several movements (of sorts) that lobby strongly for listeners' interest. The epic feel noted supra is aided by the smooth transitions between songs. With tracks that can run upwards of 12-minutes, it's impressive how Mars Volta keep its sound fresh and repetition to a minimum. De-Loused in the Comatorium is a musical gem that captures the soul of Mars Volta in a way that soundly delivers on the hype.

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