After two albums that pushed the envelope when it came to pretense (yet still managed to connect with an audience not necessarily into progressive or arty music), the Mars Volta's third trip to the plate ought to deliver nothing less than an orgy of shameless self-indulgence. With Amputechre
, creative partners Cedric Bixler and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez deliver nothing less. The new material combines the slow-burn brooding of Pink Floyd with the baroque grandiosity of Yes, but Bixler and Rodriguez-Lopez approach the arrangements as if they have a big-band jazz orchestra in mind. The result is the band's most focused, flexible and lifelike work to date. Sure, it feels like forever before you hear one rocking riff, but not a single moment is wasted, thanks to strong, instantly winning rhythms. Amputechre
may be this year's best example that you can be heavy without being hard.