There are few musicians today that can rival the musical output of Omar Rodriguez-Lopez. Since starting the post-hardcore group At The Drive-In in the mid 90s, Rodriguez-Lopez has released more work than most artists could in a lifetime. Through various groups like The Mars Volta and Bosnian Rainbows, as well as his own personal vault of solo records, Rodriguez-Lopez has over 40 albums to his name.
Now, through a recent deal with Ipecac Recordings, he’s set to release 12 more albums bi-weekly over the course of the next few months. While Rodriguez-Lopez’ prolific nature is impressive, it begs the question of whether or not he’s choosing quantity over quality.
Luckily, Sworn Virgins is a promising start to this new release cycle and a quality addition to the Rodriguez-Lopez canon.
Rodriguez-Lopez shows his mastery of style throughout the album with diverse and satisfying guitar work. Songs like “Crow’s Feet” and “Logged Into Bliss” are distortion-heavy stomps that favor thick riffs and sweet solos. Meanwhile, “To Kill a Chi-Chi” and “Twice a Plague” bend toward his work in Bosnian Rainbows with clean, echoing lines that ring out into the void. Yet, despite the variety of sonic exploration, Sworn Virgins still feels like a cohesive collection of material that belongs together.
Part of that cohesion comes from the incredible percussive work of drummer Deantoni Parks. Parks, who played on the final Mars Volta album and Bosnian Rainbows’ debut, holds the album together with his unique and calculated style. He adapts to each song, supplying the right rhythm for every occasion. Whether it’s an angular, prog-rock groove or a blues-rock style shuffle, there’s not a beat out of place. You’ll find little doubt that anyone else could have done a better job.
The least compelling part of Sworn Virgins is the vocal performance by Rodriguez-Lopez. It’s not even the performance itself; His voice adds a sinister sex appeal to the songs that is enjoyable. The issue is the layers of effects piled on-top of his vocals that end up diluting the performance and making the lyrics near impossible to understand. Rodriguez-Lopez is known for his odd, esoteric lyrics, so it would have been nice to hear what he came up with for this album.
With a body of work as large as Rodriguez-Lopez’s, it’s hard for an album not to get lost in the ocean of work that has already been released and the deluge of music to come. But Sworn Virgins is a tight, varied release that should be able to stay afloat for fans.
Experimental Rock | Ipecac Recordings