The Mars Volta

What is it about this band I’m missing? I mean, they’re pretty good, but the insane amounts of praise people give them seems unjustified.

Aside from the fact that Latin-influenced music (save Flamenco) grinds on my nerves like you wouldn’t believe, they don’t seem too bad… But they’re constantly being worshiped, and touted as prog, a genre encompassing bands like Ayreon, Dream Theater, Rush, Radiohead, and even “lesser” bands like Fall Of Troy, all of which beat the hell out of them to the point that any comparisons are insulting.

I’m totally confused :expressionless:

If you’re asking what other people enjoy, but I imagine you would “miss,” the Latin influence is almost certainly a part of it. A difference in lyrical taste is probably significant, as well; you seem to like Rush and Dream Theater, bands whose lyrics I consider too abysmal for the music to save, and in the past said that you did not think Linkin Park lyrics were “angsty.” Based on your current and past preferences, I would also generally say you seem to like your music, even if it is progressive, somewhat compositionally standard. In a similar vein, other than The Fall of Troy and, to some degree, Thrice, I don’t recall you ever mentioning liking musicians who made much use of dissonance, which is a pretty key part of Omar’s guitar playing style. Also, though this is perhaps too generalizing, I would say I feel that you put more emphasis on the technicality of playing than I do, or are at least more impressed by it.

I do think the Mars Volta is overrated, but I definitely liked them better than I thought I would. When thinking about how overhyped they are by their fans, I just think to myself, “They COULD still be At The Drive In.”

I prefer At the Drive In, honestly.

At The Drive In were killer.

Arac pretty much nailed it, but the bands you listed, Hades, tend to have more consonance in their music and can be technical. Prog does not equal technical. You can have simple riffs played in complex structures (Pink Floyd for example). From what I remember of what Mars Volta sound like, they represent the more dissonant side of prog with more emphasis on scratchy and gritty sounds. At least comparing them to At The Drive In (they used to be the same band right?). Not to mention they’re on the more punk side of things where as bands like Dream Theatre and Rush (I hate to put them in the same sentence) are more classic rock/heavy metal (which tends to be the antithesis of what punk stands for).

For the record, I haven’t really enjoyed any Linkin Park albums before or after Meteora, which I thought (and still think) was extremely well done for its time. But looking back, it’s not very enduring. You can’t put it away for a while to enjoy later with fresh ears. Once you get bored of it, you pretty much never want to hear it again. It seems kind of weird to think of an album as being “used up,” but Linkin Park as a band is pretty used up to me now, and you should probably remove them from whatever tabs you seem to be keeping on what bands I like.

I definitely don’t listen to Dream Theater or Rush for the lyrics. In fact, I don’t really listen to Rush at all. I just threw them in there as a generally accepted band-of-legend to make a point. And I guess what that point is, is that The Mars Volta is being labeled by its fans, for some reason, as something it’s not. Technically, you might be able to crunch them into the prog category, but calling them prog is like calling sugar “food,” imo. It’s like there’s this whole mass of people who see all this genius and innovation in what seems to me like a pretty typical Latin rock band.

I don’t know what kind of dissonance anyone’s talking about, but TMV are no more dissonant pitch-wise than most rock bands, and definitely don’t approach the kind of dissonance you find in songs like Radiohead’s “Life In A Glass House.” And I’m no stranger to gritty, scratchy punk music. My absolute favourite band, Say Anything, has TMV absolutely killed in that department.

I’m most convinced that the Latin aspect is what I’m missing. I have pretty much no appetite for it, but that can’t be the only reason people are so balls-to-the-walls crazy about them. I don’t buy the dissonance argument at all. A song that isn’t at least as dissonant as TMV couldn’t be called metal, and I love metal. TMV is about as dissonant as (and sounds very similar to) Billy Talent, IMO, who I also love.

So yeah, I’m thinking this is a combination of me not being Latin enough, and them actually being overrated to a certain extent :stuck_out_tongue:

I was basically going by what their old band sounded like and from what I remember of them. I don’t listen to them and you could probably discredit a lot of what I said about them.

That said, Radiohead is pretty cool.

Hades, give At The Drive In a listen. You’ll hear plenty craziness with them. That’s the band that turned into The Mars Volta.

I’m not listing Linkin Park as a “band you like” so much as I was using the one specific argument about whether or not their lyrics were “angsty” as an example for how we disagree rather vastly on judging and interpreting lyrics.

I’ve always thought of The Mars Volta as a post-hardcore band, which is usually how I hear them being referred to. I wouldn’t say that they’re a typical Latin rock band, though, by any means. I’m referring to the guitarist’s frequent use of tritones/augmented fourths, most notably, when I say dissonance.

EDIT: Wait, I’ve gotta say that claiming Say Anything is scratchier or grittier really isn’t too fair. Compare The Mars Volta with Say Anything. While Bemis has more gravel in his voice, Say Anything tends to have very melodic, hooky instrumentation influenced by powerpop as much as punk.

That’s weird, when I think post-hardcore, I think Alexisonfire and Moneen. Anyway, I certainly wouldn’t call them prog, but I’ve heard way too many other people refer to them as prog not to bring it up.

Tritones are everywhere in Western music, I don’t think you can find an interesting song in any genre that doesn’t rely on them heavily. The use of tritones, IMO, doesn’t give a band a dissonance advantage over any other band these days. The Mars Volta seem to have an unusual brand of dissonance to them, but I wouldn’t say they’re more dissonant than a chromatic band like Dream Theater. I actually kind of LIKE their scales, they remind me of Billy Talent, like I said.

Edit: That SA song is probably not the best example. Try this one. I mean, I wouldn’t say it’s actually scratchier than The Mars Volta, but the songs have a gritty quality to them in a big way, whereas I find most of the grit in TMV songs to be background grit with liquid-smooth melodies played over it… sometimes. Anyway, the point is, it isn’t Mars Volta’s harshness that has me on the fence about them. I think it’s their melodies. Even though I just got done saying I like their scales, there’s something about the actual note sequences and how the various lines of music coalesce that has me bored. It might be the mixing I don’t like. I hear they have terrible live mixing too.

Out of curiosity, what do you think of mid-period King Crimson, Hades?

I’d be surprised if he’s even heard King Crimson. He probably would think it’s too “latin”.


I gave Mars Volta a listen and then that Say Anything group. Say Anything definately came across as more poppish and refined. The song Hades posted had some interesting elements but fell into pop tonal conventions that tend to bore and irritate my listening experience. Mars Volta sure jumped around a lot though which kind of detracts some points for them too. It just goes to show it’s a good idea to pee before you perform, even if you don’t have to go that badly before the show. Otherwise… yeah.

At the Drive In jumped around like crazy all the time, too.

I’ve heard KC but they never stuck. I can at least understand why people love them though. Compositionally and technically, they’re really tight compared to TMV.

That they did. Good to see they get into their music. Not something I dig personally but at least it doesn’t make the music any worse or better.

Aye they’re a stellar band. One of my favourites. I recommend checking out three albums:

In the Court of the Crimson King

Those three are so diverse that you’re bound to find something you like there.

Heh, knew you’d include Red.

At The Drive In are fun btw. Plus the name evokes At The Gates, which is always a plus.

Their name just reminds me of Panic At The Disco… :expressionless:

I’ve never really cared for the Mars Volta either. i don’t know why they just rub me the wrong way I guess.

But At the Drive-in was great. and more importantly King Crimson is great.

I do enjoy At the Drive In. They were the pre-Mars Volta Mars Volta(if that makes any sense). And their music is really gritty and also at the same time proggy(though not enough to actually be an outright prog band)

The Mars Volta is alright, not as good IMO as some of the other bands I listen to, but good nonetheless in their own right.

Before I go out on a limb and recommend stuff like Fate’s Warning, I can understand why everyone has a different definition of what good progressive music is, simply because we are of different age groups and upbringings.

King Crimson is the shit.(one of my dad’s favorites when I was growing up)

A band I haven’t heard a whole hell of a lot of but want to hear more of because I’ve liked what I’ve heard is Van Der Graaf Generator.

Cool to see those guys mentioned here. I heard good things about them and picked up their first album… which was mildly disappointing. It was more of an acoustic folk album. And then I go check reviews and find out it’s their least liked album and is considered a solo album by the vocalist under the band’s name due to label issues!

They have a couple releases I’ve been meaning to check out. A similar band I also want to listen to is Captain Beyond.

And Fates Warning are great. Their first album is so good.

Captain Beyond are worthwhile.