After listening to the album several times through it is safe to say the album grows on me more and more with every time.
The group has taken their sound in a new direction, of this you can be sure. However, while listening to Noctourniquet a few tracks from Octahedron played while I had my iTunes on shuffle. For those of you that don't know, the Mars Volta used to have a saxophone player who was asked to leave the group some time before the recording of Octahedron. It was apparent that the direction they were moving toward during Octahedron has been expanded upon with Noctourniquet.
I only had the the album on as background noise one night and after a few songs from Octahedron played, I hadn't even realized it wasn't Nouctourniquet anymore.
Many of the reviews I've read seem to hold some disdain for the sound the Mars Volta is currently bringing to the table. I, however, embrace it wholeheartedly.
I don't claim to understand the depth of an individual by the language they use or how doing something completely different can label you a genius, even if everyone recognizes it really isn't that good. Any idiot can flip through a dictionary and pick out a couple of obscure words, use them as lyrics and then throw some crazy electronic noise and off-beat snare hits over a guitar track.
The fact that all of these things exist within Noctourniquet does not make it any less amazing. Sure the opening track, The Whip Hand, took my a few listens before I started to appreciate it but I can still recognize that music is an art form and the group is simply expressing themselves in a musically artistic fashion.
The album's single, The Malkin Jewel, is very different than any other single previously released by the band. Cedric vocally approaches the listener in this song in a way he never has. It's creepy, chilling, haunting and utterly beautiful.
Some of the tracks do have a poppy feel to them at times but there are a few that begin to take you in one direction and then send you on an audible detour. (In Absentia is a good example of this)
Fans of the themes used by the Mars Volta will be happy to know Noctourniquet is a concept album. Little has been released on the story encompassing the lyrics and songs but it was noted that the story centered around a character based off mythological figure Hyacinthus and the DC Comic villain, Solomon Grundy.
I'm not sure if that means he's a beautiful zombie that bleeds flowers but I do know the lyrics contain a lot of biblical references.
Interesting themes in the lyrics but it adds that much more mystery and creepiness to a band that manages to become more of each with every new album.
Any fan of the Mars Volta or music should give this album a chance.