The Mars Volta: Noctourniquet

Stationary progress.

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After a decade in which The Mars Volta have twisted rock’n’roll into all sorts of weird shapes, it could be that there is nowhere left for them to go.

Furthermore, their revolutionary statement of intent was best expressed on their devastating 2003 debut Deloused In The Comatorium, and while they have made some great and challenging albums subsequently – Amputechture is that work of genius/load of bloody noise record that sorts out the fairweather prog fans from the real nuts – they have never bettered it.

This, their sixth album, finds them still stuck between that frenetic Santana jamming with King Crimson psych-prog mania – In Absentia and The Malkin Jewel are particularly acidic – and the more soulful ballads like the gorgeous Aegis.

For one who have always flung themselves to the very limits of what a rock band can be in this retro soaked age, this is a touch disappointing. To be clear, there are great songs here but there’s nothing that gels it as an album, and it’s not the face-shredding shock of the new they once delivered.

Allan McLachlan spent the late 70s studying politics at Strathclyde University and cut his teeth as a journalist in the west of Scotland on arts and culture magazines. He moved to London in the late 80s and started his life-long love affair with the metropolitan district as Music Editor on City Limits magazine. Following a brief period as News Editor on Sounds, he went freelance and then scored the high-profile gig of News Editor at NME. Quickly making his mark, he adopted the nom de plume Tommy Udo. He moved onto the NME's website, then Xfm online before his eventual longer-term tenure on Metal Hammer and associated magazines. He wrote biographies of Nine Inch Nails and Charles Manson. A devotee of Asian cinema, Tommy was an expert on 'Beat' Takeshi Kitano and co-wrote an English language biography on the Japanese actor and director. He died in 2019.