The Mars Volta – Conjugal Burns (2008)


I’m a huge fan of The Mars Volta, and this track from their 2008 album The Bedlam in Goliath is a great example of their power as a band. Hailing from El Paso, Texas, the group manages to elevate “progressive rock” – hell, music in general – to a place all its own. It’s there in the amazing creative partnership between guitarist Omar Rodríguez-López and vocalist/lyricist Cedric Bixler-Zavala. In the interplay of aggressive chords and subtle harmonies. In the sheer energy of the songs, which come as close to sex as anything I can think of: Foreplay, intercourse, climax; changes in rhythm and tempo; sweet caresses and violent bursts. I’m exhilarated and exhausted just thinking about it.

The-Mars-Volta-The-Bedlam-In-GoliathAccording to the group, The Bedlam in Goliath was written after interacting, through a Ouija-type board, with an entity that brought them any number of tragedies and bad luck. The story might just be an elaborate myth – or not – but the presence of Goliath (the name the band gave to the entity) is definitely all over this song. Conjugal Burns writhes like a snake, from the slow and jarring guitar stabs of the first section to the thrusting-locomotive verses that begin at 2:17. At this point Bixler-Zavala wonders “If Goliath won’t speak / I’m blinded by heaven / When will your Eden come die?” And lo and behold, Goliath does speak, beginning at 4:41 or so – I have no idea what it says, buried in the frenetic cacophony of Omar’s guitars, Thomas Pridgen’s insane drumming (really, that’s just one guy with two sticks?), and Cedric’s final scream, which takes the song back to the chorus. But it’s awesome in a way impossible to describe. This is rock at its most primal.

Click on the cover and check it out.

Carlos I. Cuevas

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.