The Bedlam in
Goliath is the fourth full-length studio album by American progressive rock band The Mars Volta.
It was released on
January 29, 2008, and January 26, 2008 in Australia through
Universal Motown Records
The album debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200
, selling over 54,000
copies in its opening week and 153,000 copies total as of June 2009
Produced by guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez
Robert Carranza, the album's creation process was subject to "bad
luck controversy" after the band's bizarre experience with an
that Rodriguez-Lopez bought as a gift
for Cedric Bixler-Zavala
" was released on
November 19, 2007 as the album's first single, coupled with a
of "Pulled to Bits",
originally by Siouxsie &
. Vinyl editions of the album include a ouija
inside the gatefold, claimed to be the band's own take on the board
they previously owned. "Wax Simulacra" won at the 51st Grammy Awards
for Best Hard Rock
Having previously contributed the artwork to the 2006 release of
, Jeff Jordan was
again brought in to handle the illustrations for the album,
creating 11 original paintings to coincide with the theme of
The Bedlam in Goliath
, as well as including a piece from
his own gallery. The piece used for the cover is entitled
On a trip
in Jerusalem, Rodriguez-Lopez purchased an archaic ouija-type
talking board at a curio shop as a gift for Bixler-Zavala.
They would return to their tour bus after shows to play with it
during their 2006 tour with the Red Hot Chili Peppers
, as it quickly
became the band's post-show ritual. Dubbed "The Soothsayer", the
board revealed stories, gave names and made demands, as the band
was contacted by three different people who appeared in the form of
one, who was then referred to as "Goliath". The more the band had
interacted with "The Soothsayer", otherworldly coincidences began
plaguing the band's experience writing and recording The Bedlam
: Blake Fleming
current drummer at the time—had quit mid-tour and left the band
with financial troubles; Bixler-Zavala wound up needing surgery
performed on his foot due to the shoes he had been wearing, forcing
him to relearn how to walk post-surgery; audio tracks sporadically
and literally disappeared off the screens; Rodriguez-Lopez's home
studio flooded and had been subject to multiple power outages; and
the album's original engineer had gone through a nervous breakdown,
leaving behind all previous work with no notes as to where anything
was. The engineer who quit stated to Rodriguez-Lopez: "I'm not
going to help you make this record. You're trying to do something
very bad with this record, you're trying to make me crazy and
you're trying to make people crazy."
Rodriguez-Lopez was nearly on the brink of starting over from
scratch, but instead kept on with the recruitment of Robert
Carranza as the replacement engineer, along with assistance from
Lars Stalfors and Isaiah Abolin. Midway through the recording
sessions, Rodriguez-Lopez broke "The Soothsayer" in half and buried
it in an undisclosed location as an attempt to undo the curse and
halt the unforeseen tragedies, who ended the ordeal by swearing
never to give away the whereabouts of its burial, and also asking
the band not to speak of it again during the remainder of the
The song "Soothsayer" contains field
that Omar recorded in Jerusalem. The recordings are a
mixture from the Jewish quarter, the Muslim Quarter and the Christian Quarter.
and mixed at Ocean Way Studios in
Hollywood and Rodriguez-Lopez's home studio in Brooklyn, New York, song
material for The Bedlam in Goliath dates back to April
2006 when demos were first written.
Without a stable studio
drummer after the three consecutive losses of Jon Theodore
and Deantoni Parks
single year, the band was introduced to the 24-year-old Thomas Pridgen
, whose youthful presence—as
described by Bixler-Zavala—had given The Mars Volta new life.
Rodriguez-Lopez worked with Rich Costey
to finish the album in a three-week stretch, assisted by Shawn
Michael Sullivan and Claudius Mittendorfer as editors.
In an interview, Carranza described the recording process for
The Bedlam in Goliath
stating that no more than three
takes an hour were recorded, as a way to soak in what was recorded
and to hear the differences, which in turn improved the general
mood and atmosphere of the album's creation. Elaborating on the
method, Carranza stated that "when van
was around he wasn't just painting, painting, painting.
I'm sure he took a step back once in a while. You should do the
same when you're recording."
The string quintet on "Soothsayer" was recorded on Wednesday, June
6, 2007 at Hyde Street Studios
in San Francisco.
Eventually the band decided in favor of Wax Simulacra
as the first single:
Bixler-Zavala incorporated themes and names into the lyrics that
were taken from messages given by "The Soothsayer", also including
excerpts from poems that were found attached to the ouija,
describing a love triangle between a woman, her daughter and a man.
Each song reinterprets the relationship in some shape or form, and
as a good luck charm to counteract the cryptic themes,
Bixler-Zavala incorporated elements of the Afro-Caribbean religious
into the lyrics
as a "protective skin" to protect the band.
The album ultimately serves as an attempt to artistically reverse
their perceived bad luck by "setting traps" for the listeners to
use as a way to undo what "The Soothsayer" had brought upon the
band. To aid the concept, vinyl editions of the album contain the
band's own version of the ouija inside the gatefold.
were posted on The Mars
Volta's official website, depicting the band in various and
sometimes humorous situations.
- "Wax Simulacra" contains live footage of the band performing on
their Australian 2007 Tour.
- "Aberinkula" is based around the band playing cards and then performing surgery on a
person, finding odd objects inside of the body.
- "Goliath" consists of the band performing on obscure
instruments in the middle of a street, with a man dressed as
The Elephant Man.
- "Askepios" is made up of footage of a celebration party that
takes place in front of a green screen. Several props and objects
appearing in the other videos (including a piñata bearing the effigy of George W. Bush)
are passed around and examined during the celebration.
Another webisode for "Ilyena" was posted at Dailymotion
, showing footage of the band in a
classroom with Rodriguez-Lopez introducing Adrián Terrazas-González
who appears as a police officer to lecture to the class. The last
half of the video shows everyone on a rooftop watching as graffiti
artists Grey and Thomas Pridgen spray paint their tags
on a wall.
Cover artwork puzzle
A scrambled picture puzzle was put up on the official website
featuring the front cover artwork for The Bedlam in
. If solved, a free MP3 download of The Mars Volta
performing a cover version of "Back Against the Wall" by the
was available. Presently,
solving the puzzle no longer gives a promotional code for the free
Goliath: The Soothsayer
Based on the events that took place during the creation of The
Bedlam in Goliath
, the online game
Goliath: The Soothsayer
was released via Amazon
through January 2–29, and later made
publicly available at Newgrounds
January 29, 2008. Developed by Leffler Web Design, the game is
described as a horror/supernatural "point 'n' click".
New Year's Eve promo flyer
2008 club tour
presale was announced on the band's website for a New Year's Eve
show at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, California, promoted with flyers that featured exclusive
The Bedlam in Goliath artwork illustrated by Jeff
The band would then announce a following January club tour
in 2008 where they would then debut new material from the album for
the first time prior to its release.
USB flash drive
The album will be alternatively released on a limited USB flash drive
that is designed to resemble
a piece of a ouija board, possibly to coincide with the vinyl
release of the album. While primarily containing The Bedlam in
in its entirety, the flash drive will unlock a variety
of bonus material on the 29th of each month throughout 2008. So
far, the future content is confirmed to include webisodes, concert
footage, limited edition wallpaper, b-sides and unreleased
In some U.S. record stores, a free 5" VinylDisc
of The Mars Volta's cover of Pink Floyd
's "Candy and a Currant Bun
" was given
away with purchase of the album. The VinylDisc is a new format that
has a digital side and a vinyl side. One side plays in a CD player,
while the other side plays on a turntable. The vinyl side contains
the Pink Floyd cover "Candy and a Currant Bun", while the CD side
contains the audio track for "Candy and a Currant Bun" as well as
the "Wax Simulacra" video as enhanced content. It also comes with a
removable foam spindle insert to switch between CD &
Best Buy Exclusive
Best Buy shipped the album with a download code for exclusive
tracks, "Pulled to Bits" and "Birthday", as well as a free bonus
DVD with 20 minutes of never-before-seen concert footage. However,
many of the DVDs were unplayable, the codes expired after a certain
amount of time, and the downloads (being in secure WMA format) were
not Mac compatible.
The 2x12" vinyl version of the album was released on June 10, 2008.
A 7" vinyl accompanies the double LP. It is in the shape of a
planchette, and features a previously unreleased track called "Mr.
Muggs", named after Jim Jones
. The double LP is half red and
aberinkula is a special kind of drum used in Nigeria.
Also, "aberinkula" can be translated as "non-believer".
- Metatron is the name of an angel in
Judaism and some branches of Christianity. It is also considered to
harbor the voice of God.
- Ilyena is a reference to Ilyena Vasilievna Mironov, which is
the birth name of actress Dame Helen
Mirren. "I've named a song 'Ilyena' after the real name of the
actress Helen Mirren because she is my favorite actress and the
song is a little lighthearted and different from the subject
- The word "simulacrum" is used to
describe a representation of another thing, such as a statue or a
painting; especially of a god. It also describes an image without
the substance or qualities of the original. Simulacra is simply the
plural form of the word.
- Goliath is a Philistine warrior
mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. He is famous for his battle in the
11th century BC that he lost against David, the young Israelite boy
whom had already been chosen by God and anointed by Samuel to
become the King of Israel.
- "Una cavaletta" is said to be a woman who constantly tries to
change her lover into some fantasy she has conjured.
- Agadez is the
largest city in northern Niger.
- Askepios is named after the Greek medicine god, Asclepius.
- The Ouroboros is an ancient symbol
depicting a serpent or dragon swallowing its own tail and forming a
circle. It is spelled as "Ouroborous" on the album's track listing,
but this is likely to be a printing error as The Mars Volta's
official website and the ASCAP website both
list the track as "Ouroboros".
- The inner booklet features a series of images commonly known as
the "Seven Powers of Africa".
- A soothsayer is one who predicts
future events based on personal beliefs instead of common
Bonus tracks and b-sides
- GetMadRef (Agadez demo)- 5:54
- Available through USB stick on December 29, 2008.
- Ratiplet For Label (Soothsayer demo) - 4:52
- Available through USB stick on December 29, 2008.
|US Billboard 200
|Australian ARIA Album Chart
|Austrian Album Chart
|Belgian Albums Chart
|Canadian Albums Chart
|Dutch Albums Chart
|Finnish Albums Chart
|French Albums Chart
|German Albums Chart
|Italian Albums Chart
|Irish Albums Chart
|Mexican Albums Chart
|New Zealand RIANZ Albums Chart
|Norwegian Albums Chart
|Spanish Albums Chart
|Swedish Albums Chart
|Swiss Albums Chart
|UK Albums Chart
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