By Carlos Lima-Lopez
If only anyone knew how I felt about the departure of The Mars Volta, one of my favorite bands in recent time, I would describe my experience as being crushed, sad and slightly empty. Not necessarily in a bad way, but when your favorite band gets divorced amid the arrival of a new band by Omar Rodriguez-Lopez ( the band’s co-founder), and is rebutted by a slew of angry tweets by singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala (the other co-founder), then it was reasonable to entertain the idea that your beloved group would not be releasing any material for some time, if ever. So yeah, I definitely had this empty void where my group used to be, but fear not; Drum n Bass act Shapfeshifer quickly filled the void so I had something to look forward to.
It began then; Cedric made it very clear he had cut ties with Omar and decided to birth a new group titled Zavalaz which was oddly retro. Omar then created Bosnian Rainbows, enjoyed some success and it was also very different. While Omar decided to focus on the positivity surrounding a collaborative project,, Cedric was subtlety throwing daggers at Omar, referring to him as a “weird Puerto Rican kid” and saw to it that The Mars Volta was a very distant past.
Now here they are, reuniting and cleaning up their mess so they can create a new band. For starters,, they seem like they have a found their happy place with their new band and it’s clear that their chemistry has not at all waned. Their taste for the aggressive and theatrical remains intact.
As for their debut, simply put, it’s meat and potatoes punk music. It’s straight forward chugga chugga rock that can no doubt get the party started. Yet, there are still some very nice touches that Omar and Cedric paint their canvases with. “50,000 Kilowatts” is definitely unlike anything they have ever played before. It’s very happy sounding, with Cedric yelling to generally stay optimistic. “Momento Mori” has this very nice pop jive, with Cedric singing what he does best, stream of consciousness lyricism.
The real winner, personally, is “Drown All of Your Witches” which sounds like the best Led Zeppelin song never surfaced. The way the serene atmosphere carries the through is absolutely amazing, and I often find myself replaying the song over and over. It also feels really watery, might I add.
Of course, those aren’t the only songs I dig. . “4AM” is a nice introduction to the album with their punk excursions, as the intensity continues to build. Also, I really enjoy “Hanging in The Lurch”, which sounds like it would be really fun to jump to. “No Remorse” displays drummer Dave Elitch’s chops behind his kit, and “Providence” sounds horrifying. It’s aggressive,mean, and dare I say,unsettling.
If there is anything I can walk away with after listening, it’s this; you really can’t throw away 20+ years of friendship. I’m glad Cedric Bixler Zavala and Omar Rodriguez Lopez realize this, and after all of their hard work with their previous bands, it’s a nice reminder to know wounds can be healed and issues can be resolved.