Day 53 – #222. The Mars Volta – Noctourniquet

The Mars Volta - Noctourniquet

Well. It’s no De-Loused in the Comatorium. It’s not even a Frances the Mute. But Noctourniquet, God bless it, is thankfully not an Octahedron – the only Volta album I don’t own. Maybe I’ll give it another shot later down the road when I’ve rid it from my memory, but it’s not likely.

Noctourniquet, as it turns out, was the final release for the seminal prog-rock group. It’s just unfortunate that such an important band in this generation of music went out with a limp. In a music industry that seems every day to be increasingly more difficult to stay relevant or successful over time, Volta defied convention with each of their albums.

I’ll try to narrow my opinions to Noctourniquet alone because I don’t want how little I liked Octahedron (and how much I love and appreciate all other albums prior) to influence my views. That wouldn’t be fair to Noctourniquet because it really is a pretty good record.

The band didn’t have anything to prove following Octahedron – why should they have to do so at all? De-Loused and Frances stand on their own feet as two of the best prog rock releases ever – not just the first decade of the 2000s. Do, or rather, should we judge bands like Metallica for St. Anger or whatever it was called? No. We remember them as the band that brought us “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and that curiously titled live album S&M (clever, no matter how much Lars hated Napster).

The same goes for Cedric, Omar and co. And no matter how much band member turnover they experienced, which is to say a lot, Volta will always have their first four albums

“Empty Vessels Make the Loudest Sound” and “Lapochka” are pretty straightforward, spacey and mid-tempo tunes. Very surprising. The album’s first (only?) single “The Malkin Jewel” is a return to prominence for the band. Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s voice is refreshingly aggressive for once; a small reminder of his old band that shall remain nameless for their blatant disregard of the entire east coast on their recent reunion stint. Even Refused hit up Atlanta – that’s the least they could have done. I digress.

Anyway, “Molochwalker” and “Zed and Two Naughts” are what this album should have sounded like. Instead, Noctourniquet seems to me analogous to trying to spice up leftovers – in this case, it’s day-old Octahedron in the microwave, but with some post-nuking Sriracha. Yeah, the Sriracha is good, but it’s still leftovers.

Here’s one of the album’s highlights –

Standout tracks: “The Malkin Jewel” and “Molochwalker”
Weakest track: “The Whip Hand” – why? Just why?

RIYL: Prog-rock. Their older stuff. Sorry for being “that dude” but it’s the truth.



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