‘Bedlam in Goliath’ rocks

Justin Rodstrom

The Mars Volta have concocted yet another set of mesmerizing sonic passages of psychedelia reductively referred to as “songs.” I am still in awe that such an absurdist, almost avant garde band can take root in an otherwise stifling mainstream musical culture. What kind of freaks buy into this disorienting mess? I must admit, I am one of them.

With the prodigious Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler Zavala again at the helm of this joyride through hell, The Mars Volta have never been as lean or head-bangingly gorgeous as on “The Bedlam In Goliath.”

The album is a snapshot of works in progress, as song material is excavated from improv live jams, outtakes and riffs from Omar’s side project quintet, The Omar Rodriguez-Lopez Quintet. The addition of drummer Thomas Pridgen has also helped The Mars Volta sound more hard-hitting, with a focus on the drums as a treble instrument as opposed to the groove orientation of Jon Theodore and Blake Fleming’s styles of play.

If you have become accustomed to The Mars Volta’s patented audio vernacular, you’ll notice the same focus on innovative song structure, with swirls of psychedelic keyboards, flute, saxophone, guitar and the kitchen sink – nowhere more evident than on the centerpoint theme song of the album, “The Soothsayer.”

One stark contrast from past albums such as 2006’s “Amputechture” is the current of musical consistency throughout the album. Where “Amputechture” was a collection of unique environments, songs from “The Bedlam In Goliath” seem to all be a part of a terse, unified vision. Unlike “Amputechture,” “The Bedlam In Goliath” does not stop to take a breath but continually pummels the listener’s eardrums with eccentric prog.

Tracks: “Metatron,” “Wax Simulacra,” “Goliath,” “Ouroboros”