Half Notes: The Mars Volta – De-Loused in the Comatorium (2003)

I still remember the day I originally found this album: My drive home was full of modern prog-rock goodness — stuff the likes of which we rarely get to hear anymore, especially from the remnants of yell-rock band At The Drive-in. Long songs (one of which clocks in at over 12 minutes long), intricate structures, soaring vocals: I don’t know how this could possibly sell to kids these days who have eschewed anything that gives any hint of a band’s talent. There are touches of early Genesis in abundance, especially in the various odd vocal treatments of the late Jeremy Michael Ward, who passed away before the album appeared of a drug overdose. Ward performed a sort of Eno-role here, manipulating sound the way Eno did on Genesis’ epic The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. It’s definitely for those who enjoy serious prog-rock (in other words, not the type of stuff that does this in a tongue-in-cheek way) in the vein of Porcupine Tree, but a little more obscure and psychotic (with much less of the melodic touch that the Tree is known for.)

‘Half Notes’ are quick-take thoughts on music from Something Else! Reviews, presented whenever the mood strikes us.

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Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson has contributed to Blogcritics, and maintained a series of stand-alone sites including Known Johnson, Everything is a Mess and others. He studied both creative writing and then studio art at Arizona State. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.