Octahedron - The Mars Volta

Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 25
  2. Negative: 1 out of 25
  1. Though 'Teflon' boasts Rush-like guitar thunder and violent lyrics (“Let the wheels burn, let the wheels burn, stack the tires to the neck with the body inside”), the group returns to dark balladry on 'Desperate Graves' and 'Copernicus,' two more highlights from a haunting album full of twilight poetry.
  2. 80
    This is, however, their most mellow, reflective and tempered release yet. [Sep 2009, p.95]
  3. Calling this an unplugged album is useful only in relation to what the group has produced in the past, but what the Mars Volta created on Octahedron will provide them with more range and opportunities in the future.
  4. it’s an excellent change of pace for the band, and proves that they can indeed write spacey, esoteric mid-tempo songs instead of...well...spacey, esoteric breakneck songs.
  5. Octahedron is most certainly not a wish for Top 40 stardom, but compared to past efforts by this collective, it’s probably the surest means of attracting a larger batch of casual listeners without completely rejecting the heady desires of Mars Volta obsessives.
  6. The panache of the singing, and the radiant complexity of the music--an achievement shared by Mr. Rodriguez Lopez and a handful of regular collaborators, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante--drive the album relentlessly forward. And it’s the subtle touches, no less than the sweeping ones, that leave an impression.
  7. Guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala are the creative duo driving the band and once again deliver on a standing promise to blow any mind that is willing to stay open.
  8. This might be their ‘reflective’ effort, but it’s classic MV.
  9. We already knew The Mars Volta could shred. Now we know they can slow the pace too and be equally as compelling. [Summer 2009, p.68]
  10. Octahedron lacks sparkle enough to raise it above previous creative highs--it’s a recommended affair, at times truly scintillating, but it doesn’t quite deliver to the extent where all caution can be tossed to the breeze.
  11. 70
    These eight tracks--only one of which stretches past the eight-minute mark!--actually make up the Mars Volta's most consistently compelling slab since 2005's salsafied "Frances the Mute."
  12. Octahedron isn’t a representation of the best The Mars Volta are capable of, but it is a glimpse into the power they possess when they better harness their capabilities.
  13. It shows that for the first time they really can do restraint, without compromising the overall impact of the instances where things are let rip.
  14. The lyrics remain as arcane as ever. Even if you don't totally love the band's new direction, you can bet there's a juicy pretentious concept waiting to be rooted out here.
  15. Is Octahedron the band's best album? No, but if you dig on MV's unrepentantly "big" and meandering suite-driven concept-album thing, you won't necessarily be disappointed.
  16. 60
    As ever with The Mars Volta, there are enough flashes of brilliance to make up for the wearying material elsewhere. [Sep 2009, p.86]
  17. Octahedron bucks the band's trend for obfuscation, though; conventional song structures are very much in evidence, while its relatively trim 49-minute running time is on par with some of Mars Volta's more involved live jams. [Jul 2009, p.127]
  18. Bixler-Zavala is no Maxwell; he's more about sharp pain than voluptuous ache. By the end, he invokes Gordian knots alongside a fractallike Omar Rodriguez-Lopez guitar solo. Dude sounds like he's back home again.
  19. Octahedron will appeal to elderly prog fans immune to attention deficit disorder, who have the patience to let its charm gradually unfold. [Aug 2009, p.111]
  20. Octahedron is something of a new beginning for the band. It's uneven, sometimes clumsy, and a bit incomplete-sounding. But in spite of itself, the Mars Volta sounds exciting again.
  21. In the end, Octahedron is a solid album that probably has two slow songs too many.
  22. Octahedron is the sound of a band treading water.
  23. This is a band that excels when its sing-alongs double as freak-outs; on Octahedron, they’ve largely ditched the chaos in lieu of an admirable, albeit unsatisfying, experiment in being quiet.
  24. Nothing on this album surprises me because anyone who has listened to this band regularly has become so steeped in pointless oddity that they have moved past surprise into the realm of mild annoyance.
  25. 'Cotopaxi' and 'Desperate Graves' are the Volta's most straightforward carbon-burners since Frances the Mute's 'Cygnus ... Vismund Cygnus' yet lack structure and memorable hooks, while the introductory ballad 'Since We've Been Wrong' soars closer to the Eagles than Led Zeppelin.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 61 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 24
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 24
  3. Negative: 3 out of 24
  1. Dec 4, 2010
    From Their first album to their fourth album, The Mars Volta's sound have always sounded the same. Each with a different style but nevertheless it usually sounds all the same. But this album, Octahedron, The Mars Volta went for a different kind of sound. More acoustic, more slower burning songs, and some really dark lyrics. More darker lyrics than usual. And the verdict is, a very solid album. This album proves that they can do anything musically and it will still sound very good. All In All, the least of any Mars Volta album, but still a very good album that shows that The Mars Volta still has it going for them. B Full Review »
  2. Sep 6, 2010
    one of the most incredible albums i've ever heard. second only to deloused in pure quality and vision. made all the better because it comes after the massive disappointment that was bedlam in goliath. gone are the terrible, disruptive effects on Cedric's voice. now all that remains is pure musical beauty and genius. just the right balance of slow songs and fast songs. if i can level one complaint at this album, it is that there isn't one standout song that is better than the rest. they are all incredible. buy this now or i'll cut you Full Review »
  3. ChrisP
    Jul 21, 2009
    Excellent album that truly shows this band's versatility and ability to scale back without shutting it down. If these boards are moderated, why are people allowed to downrate the album with 0s and innane, ridiculous "reviews" such as "Worst album of the year"? Well, eat this 10 rating. Full Review »