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Monday, September 25, 2023

It is truly one of popular music's finest examples of irony that a duo so notoriously prone to hyperactivity produces music only for those with the most enduring attention spans.

Once again, The Mars Volta, with "The Bedlam in Goliath," unleash a collection best suited for two crowds: prog junkies and the utterly comatose.

Nothing about Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala appeals to concision.

From their Afros to their surnames, to their songs, length proves a uniting theme. "Bedlam" is no exception.

In the age of the three-minute iTunes single, the band defiantly continues to abuse the compact disc's run time.

But give two significant talents 80 minutes of free space, and you're bound to get something worthwhile.

"Metatron," with its shout-along chorus and frenzied drumming, would make a perfect single if radio stations could play it without running into a commercial break.

The Caribbean thrash metal of "Ouroborous" fits in the "what if we tried this…" category, but mostly to positive results.

The song's meandering coda, though, shows what happens when you let a studio geek turn all the shiny knobs.

"Goliath" gets the formula just right.

An absolute monster of a song, it justifies every second of its extended duration.

Furious soloing impresses, but it's Zavala's air-raid siren vocals that particularly stand out.

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Grieving wolves don't howl like this.

The rest proves a muddled affair, blending blistering sections with aimless doodling.

Certainly, "Bedlam" has plenty of moments though.

Too bad they take a straightjacket and a bottle of Ritalin to appreciate.

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