The Mars Volta put its best foot forward on the first track, "Aberinkula." The song starts with an intense guitar riff embedded among a cloud of musical texture. At first listen, the syncopation and accents on unconventional beats gives the feeling of an odd time signature. But upon deeper investigation, the time reveals itself to be a regular old four count, further proof of The Mars Volta's ability to project strangeness, and even confusion, from an average musical standpoint. In some ways, it's genius, but even for the "weird-music" enthusiast, an entire album of insanity will wear thin.
One cannot discuss The Mars Volta without conceding a certain amount of respect for their musicianship. Guitar geeks the world over bow at the altar of Omar Rodriguez Lopez. Thomas Pridgen's athletic, virtuosic drumming not only complements the soundscape but is a musical force all its own. Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante finds his way into the credits but doesn't seem to offer much except for the occasional cliche pedal solo. The musicianship, however, peaks in The Bedlam in Goliath during Adrian Terrazas-Gonzalez's all-too-rare saxophone playing, when he seems to channel John Coltrane in a prog-rock setting.
The Bedlam in Goliath doesn't offer much of anything new to The Mars Volta fan. But how much further can a band that has made their reputation as being one of the most "out-there" and esoteric rock bands in the world take it? The sheer amount of sound The Mars Volta works with is impressive and often interesting, but unless the listener is in a constant state of attention, this album just becomes noise.