Ever since their debut album De-Loused In The Comatorium, The Mars Volta were a frontrunner in the progressive metal scene. However, after their sixth full length effort Noctourniquet, was released in 2012, founding duo Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala parted ways acrimoniously in early 2013, ending their long-standing musical relationship that began in 1993 with post-hardcore band At The Drive-In.
A couple of months ago rumours emerged that the pair had set aside their differences and were continuing on with new material for The Mars Volta. It was revealed last week that the rumours of the duo working together were true, however it was on a new project entitled Antemasque, signifying the end of The Mars Volta for the foreseeable future. Antemasque is rounded off with drummer David Elitch and superstar bassist Flea; both of whom played as part of the ever-changing Mars Volta lineup.
The group’s first single, entitled 4AM, provided a first glimpse at their new musical direction. Like the change from At The Drive-In to The Mars Volta, Antemasque provides another new original sound for fans of the creative pair to enjoy. It’s immediate obvious that they have chosen a more accessible sound compared to the jazz-fusion and noise influenced progressive labyrinths that The Mars Volta became known for. Rodriguez-Lopez’s guitar work is only lightly overdriven, creating a crisp and clear backing for Bixler-Zavala’s ‘Geddy Lee-style’ vocals to command over. 4AM‘s chorus of “watching, waiting, black and white surveillance” is perhaps the most memorable melody the pair have penned since the leading tracks from 2005’s Frances The Mute and marks a change in emphasis from the duo.
Antemasque is closest in style to At The Drive-In, taking some of the post-hardcore outfit’s energy and vastly simpler song structures than those utilised by The Mars Volta. This is shown with another new track, called People Forget, which caries a similar feel to 4AM; focusing more on melody and groove, than technical playing and effect wizardry. Antemasque have, at the time of writing, released three tracks, the third of which, Hangin In The Lurch, really allows Flea’s bass-work to feature in what is the most musically-busy of the three songs.
At this stage little is known about the intentions of Antemasque for the future. A record seems imminent, but with Flea announcing on twitter that he didn’t realise he was even in a proper band, let alone a new supergroup, the long-term future of the band doesn’t seem to have been decided upon yet. Whatever the musical duo end up settling on, the positive news is that they are back making music together.
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