When the At the Drive-In split divided fans between Sparta’s white-boy emo and the left-field prog practices of Mars Volta, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala definitely represented the more adventurous faction. And 2003’s De-Loused In The Comatorium, though exhausting, showed immense creative promise.
Three albums and 700 guitar solos later, they sound like a band becoming a bit too comfortable in their niche. The prog parameters they once appeared to be pushing now feel like safe borders, and they stew in lengthy, spastic jams as Zavala spews belligerently incomprehensibe non sequitur lyrics. Some call their unwillingness to bend in any direction toward accessibility a mark of artistic integrity. If cultivating a fan base of Guitar Player-magazine-buying teen boys counts as victory, then Mars Volta are big winners.