Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Mars Volta

  • De-Loused in the Comatorium [Universal, 2003] C+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

De-Loused in the Comatorium [Universal, 2003]
The most unrepentantly prog band to break in years began when Puerto Rico-born guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Mexican American vocalist Cedric Bixler Zavala rejected At the Drive-In's post-hardcore strictures, with Rodriguez citing salsa as a crucial influence. But his guitar montunos aren't salsa any more than Jon Theodore's Haiti-inflected heavy-muscle drumming is vodun. Salsa requires a groove, which the old people know embodies the community to which each individual is subordinate--such as At the Drive-In's forward thrash, which subsumes the complex songforms and explosive guitar from which the Mars Volta audibly proceed. In the case of Rodriguez's phrases and noises, romantic individualism has its uses. But Bixler's highfalutin inanities--the imagined dreamlife of a suicidal artist, all clotted surrealism and Geddy Lee theatrics--need whatever subordination they can get. C+