Their early work was a little too ‘punk’ for my taste, but when De-Loused in the Comatorium came out in '03, I think they really came into their own - both thematically and artistically. The whole album has a clear, progressive sound, and a new sheen of abstract lyricism that really gives the songs a big boost. They have been compared to Coheed and Cambria, but I think The Mars Volta has a far more bitter, depressing view of the world.
In '05, The Mars Volta released this, Frances the Mute, their most accomplished album. I think their undisputed masterpiece is 'Cassandra Gemini’, a song so long most people probably don’t even listen to it all the way through - but they should! Because it’s not just about the struggle of a man looking for his long lost mother, and the importance of blood ties, it’s also a personal statement about the band itself!