The Mars Volta is back with their sixth studio release, Noctourniquet. The 13-track disc is a combination of chaotic experimental jams as well as some slower and mellower ones. However, the El Paso natives start off their latest release with the heavily distorted “The Whip Hand.” The funky song also has an offbeat, bouncy chorus that makes it a fun starter. With ominous drums and guitars, “Aegis” takes the lighthearted beginning and casts a cloud over the disc. Noctoruniquet is a constant battle of light and dark, but in the end it is up to the listener to decide which side won. TMV slows things down and takes a slightly lighter and more relaxing turn during “Empty Vessels Make The Loudest Sound,” which despite its mellow beginning, picks up to close out the track on a strong note.
I felt like I was unable to escape from the grips of the creepy yet reggae infused “The Malkin Jewel.” This was one of my favorite cuts off of Noctoruniquet because of how evil yet natural sounding the vocals are. The following number, “Lapochika,” pairs a swinging, poppier brassy sound against the futuristic direction that the disc was going in previously, yet it still works. TMV’s typical loud and outlandish sound reappears during “Molochwalker” but disappears shortly after. Noctoruniquet doesn’t hit a weak point until the ending. Although the release closes with a series of powerful downers, some outshine the others and others leave a bitter taste in the mouth.
Even with the semi-drastic sound change, The Mars Volta still has that golden touch as far as their mind-altering jams are concerned. Noctoruniquet just may be one of 2012’s best albums thus far.