The Mars Volta
It's been three years since the noisiest little prog-rock band in Texas put out a record, but they haven't been slacking. Their newest is a "future punk" experiment based on a comic-book villain (Solomon Grundy) and a Greek myth (Hyacinthus). Ner-dee! The results send the band's usual tornado time signatures through some serious synth-and-gear grind; "Aegis" suggests Radiohead as emo metal. Some songs explore emulsive alienation (see "In Absentia"), but TMV are at their best dabbling in shades of aggro: On "The Whip Hand," shrieker Cedric Bixler-Zavala imagines himself "a land mine" ready to "blossom." You don't wanna mess with an art rocker who has a latent fondness for the smell of napalm in the morning.
• Random Notes