Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

The Mars Volta 

Amputechture (Universal Motown)

The first two full-length music features from the Mars Volta (2003's De-Loused in the Comatorium and 2005's Frances the Mute) were amazing and strange rock operas. Both concept albums sounded like surreal sci-fi soundtracks -- Fellini's version of Flash Gordon -- written and scored by the Latin Queen, aka Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez. The records probed a heady new form of hardcore punk rock, akin to At the Drive-In (of which the two were former members), recast into neo-prog-rock sagas that feast on free-flowing jazz structures, bizarre true-life gothic tales, and Bixler-Zavala's piercing vocals (sung in both Spanish and English).

Equally absurd and beautiful art-rock overtures can be found throughout Amputechture. "Tetragrammaton" is signature Mars Volta, a cerebral 17-minute opus based on the real murder of a Romanian nun, who was killed because she was supposedly possessed by the devil. It's broken into symphonic movements interspersed with indulgent guitar solos, otherworldly studio effects, and Bixler-Zavala's creepy screams.

"Viscera Eyes," the most accessible single, may begin with catchy rapid-fire guitar (played by the Red Hot Chili Peppers' John Frusciante), but it devolves into a nine-minute Yes edifice that ends in white noise and wah-wah pedals. The other songs are just as exhausting and extraordinary, requiring the patience and endurance of an audiophile who enjoys the hedonism of such art noise.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Speaking of CD Review

More by Keith Gribbins

Read the Digital Print Issue

December 1, 2021

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


Staff Pick Events

  • Andrea Bocelli @ Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse

    • Thu., Dec. 2
  • Kellen Erskine @ Hilarities Comedy Club

    • Thu., Dec. 2
  • Louis C.K. @ Agora Theatre

    • Thu., Dec. 2

© 2021 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation