De-Loused in the Comatorium

De-Loused in the Comatorium is the debut studio album by American progressive rock band the Mars Volta, released on June 24, 2003, on Gold Standard Laboratories and Universal Records. Based on a short story written by lead singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala and sound manipulation artist Jeremy Michael Ward, the concept album is an hour-long tale of Cerpin Taxt, a man who enters a week-long coma after overdosing on a mixture of morphine and rat poison. The story of Cerpin Taxt alludes to the death of El Paso, Texas artist—and Bixler-Zavala's friend—Julio Venegas (1972–1996).

De-Loused in the Comatorium
De-Loused in the Comatorium.jpeg
Cover art by Storm Thorgerson
Studio album by
ReleasedJune 24, 2003
Recorded2002–2003 at The Mansion, Los Angeles
The Mars Volta chronology
De-Loused in the Comatorium
Singles from De-Loused in the Comatorium
  1. "Inertiatic ESP"
    Released: March 23, 2004
  2. "Televators"
    Released: April 6, 2004
Alternative cover
Alternative cover by Storm Thorgerson found on certain limited editions and on the reverse side of original cover
Alternative cover by Storm Thorgerson found on certain limited editions and on the reverse side of original cover

Co-produced by Rick Rubin and guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, it is the only studio album to feature founding member Jeremy Michael Ward, who was found dead in an apparent heroin overdose one month before the album was released. Following the departure of Eva Gardner who had appeared on the band's early demos and EP, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea performed on De-Loused.

The music contained in De-Loused is distinguished by its enigmatic lyrics, Latin and jazz rhythms, and Omar Rodríguez-López's frenetic guitar riffs, which are often strongly dissonant. The title of the album is taken from the lyrics of the song "Eunuch Provocateur" on the band's previous release, Tremulant (meanwhile, "Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt" contains the title of Tremulant). The cover artwork is by Storm Thorgerson.

Background and recordingEdit

Two songs from the album, "Roulette Dares (The Haunt Of)" and "Cicatriz ESP," first appeared in 2001 as the band's very first demo recordings with bassist Eva Gardner and drummer Blake Fleming; notably, the early version of "Cicatriz ESP" (then known as "Cicatrix") was slower and much shorter (4 minutes) than the album one (at 12 minutes being the longest track on the album).

The album is a progressive rock[1][2] and art rock[1] album that also incorporates influences from psychedelic rock,[3] Latin jazz,[4] heavy metal,[4] punk rock[3] and blues rock.[3]


Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic     [1]
Entertainment WeeklyA−[6]
Los Angeles Times    [7]
Q     [9]
Alternative Press     [10]
Yahoo! Music UK          A[11]

De-Loused became, both critically and commercially, the band's biggest hit, eventually selling in excess of 500,000 copies despite limited promotion, and was featured on several critics' "Best of the Year" lists.[12] The album was ranked number 55 on the October 2006 issue of Guitar World magazine's list of the 100 greatest guitar albums of all time.[13] "Drunkship of Lanterns" was named the 91st best guitar song of all-time by Rolling Stone.[14]

As of February 2007 it has sold 434,000 copies in United States.[15]

As of June 2016, the album had a score of 82 out of 100 from Metacritic based on "universal acclaim".[5] Alternative Press gave the album a perfect score of all five stars and said it "takes multiple listens to absorb, and, even then, you're probably not going to have a clue to what Bixler's raving about."[5] Yahoo! Music UK gave it a score of eight stars out of ten and said it was "not an album to listen to casually. It insists on taking over your life for an hour, demands a level of concentration rare in rock, amply repays multiple plays."[16] Under the Radar gave the album eight stars out of ten and said that the band "has created the antithesis of ATDI, leaving behind any formula or typicality. What they kept was the fire, the fury, and the passion."[5] Drowned in Sound gave it a score of eight out of ten and called it "truly exquisite and well worth the wait."[17] Playlouder gave it a score of four stars out of five and said, "There are moments of prog rock, jazz fusion and freakydelia in this rush of ideas and if that sounds awful then don't be put off. Instead of the shambolic mess that this kinda influence normally entails Mars Volta have come strictly disciplined."[18] Uncut gave it four stars out of five and said: "Imagine a jam session between King Crimson, Fugazi and '70s Miles. Now imagine it working. That's the Mars Volta."[19] Blender also gave it four stars and said it "Roars like Led Zeppelin, churns like King Crimson and throbs like early Santana."[20] Tiny Mix Tapes likewise gave it a score of four out of five and called it "a very strong debut album for the Mars Volta."[21] Ink 19 Magazine also gave it a favorable review and said it was "definitely worth checking out, but make sure to keep an open mind and check any preconceived notions at the door."[22]

In 2014, readers of Rhythm voted it the ninth-greatest drumming album in the history of progressive rock.[23] The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[24] The album was included as number 25 on Rolling Stone's list of "50 Greatest Prog Rock Albums of All Time".[4]

Track listingEdit

All lyrics are written by Cedric Bixler-Zavala with the help of Jeremy Michael Ward; all music is composed by Omar Rodríguez-López, except where noted.

1."Son et lumière" 1:35
2."Inertiatic ESP" 4:24
3."Roulette Dares (The Haunt Of)" 7:31
4."Tira me a las arañas" (instrumental) 1:28
5."Drunkship of Lanterns"
  • Rodríguez-López
  • Bixler-Zavala
6."Eriatarka" 6:20
7."Cicatriz ESP" 12:29
8."This Apparatus Must Be Unearthed"
  • Rodríguez-López
  • Bixler-Zavala
9."Televators" 6:19
10."Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt" 8:42
Total length:60:51
Japanese, UK, and Australian special edition bonus track
Australian special edition bonus disc (These songs are the same songs that appear on the Live EP)
1."Roulette Dares (The Haunt Of)" (live BBC session)9:29
2."Drunkship of Lanterns" (live BBC session)9:38
3."Cicatriz ESP" (live)16:08
4."Televators" (live)7:18


  • "Son et lumière" is French for "Sound and Light".
  • ESP stands for "Ectopic Shapeshifting Penance-propulsion", as opposed to the traditional "Extrasensory Perception".
  • "Tira me a las arañas" is slightly misspelled Spanish for "Throw Me to the Spiders" (the correct spelling is "Tírame a las arañas").
  • "Cicatriz" is Spanish and Portuguese for "Scar".
  • "This Apparatus Must Be Unearthed" is a play on the warning frequently found on guitar amplifiers and other electrical equipment, "This Apparatus Must Be Earthed".


The following people contributed to De-Loused in the Comatorium:


Additional musiciansEdit

Recording personnelEdit

  • Rick Rubin – producer
  • Omar Rodríguez-López – producer
  • Dave Schiffman – recording
  • Andrew Scheps – additional recording
  • Phillip Groussard – assistant engineer, recording engineer ("Ambuletz")
  • Darren Mora – assistant engineer
  • Rich Costey – mixing engineer
  • Jason Lader – mixing engineer ("Ambuletz")
  • Lindsay Chase – album production coordination
  • Vlado Meller – mastering
  • Pete Lyman – mastering (vinyl)
  • Steve Kadison – mastering assistance


  • Storm Thorgerson – cover design, art direction
  • Peter Curzon – cover design, graphics
  • Rupert Truman – photography
  • Dan Abbott – illustrations



Chart (2003) Peak
Australian Albums (ARIA)[25] 47
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[26] 74
Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)[27] 26
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[28] 47
UK Albums (OCC)[29] 43
US Billboard 200[30] 39


  1. ^ a b c Loftus, Johnny. "Deloused in the Comatorium – The Mars Volta". AllMusic. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
  2. ^ DiCrescenzo, Brent (June 29, 2003). "The Mars Volta: De-Loused in the Comatorium". Pitchfork. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d Beaujon, Andrew (July 2003). "The Mars Volta: De-Loused in the Comatorium". Spin. 19 (7): 105. Retrieved July 18, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c Fischer, Reed. "50 Greatest Prog Rock Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 28, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d "Reviews for De-Loused In The Comatorium by The Mars Volta". Metacritic. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
  6. ^ Serpick, Evan (July 18, 2003). "De-Loused in the Comatorium". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on March 5, 2017. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
  7. ^ Hochman, Steve (June 22, 2003). "More than Drive-In fare". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
  8. ^ "The Mars Volta: De-Loused in the Comatorium". NME. June 28, 2003.
  9. ^ "The Mars Volta: De-Loused in the Comatorium". Q (205): 101. August 2003.
  10. ^ Hoard, Christian (October 11, 2003). Alternative Press Archived from the original on November 6, 2007. Retrieved January 24, 2011. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ Beaujon, Andrew (July 2003). Yahoo! Music UK: 105. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ Acclaimed Music - De-Loused in the Comatorium
  13. ^ Chud Forums Archived January 18, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ The 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time: Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2011-01-24. "The Mars Volta brought prog rock into the 21st century with this thrilling blast, and Omar Rodriguez Lopez announced himself as one of this decade's great young axmen, mixing Gang of Four riffs with Hendrix virtuosity, Latin rhythms and gallons of reverb."
  15. ^ Mitchell, Gail (10 February 2007). "The Rock Roster". Billboard. Retrieved 27 June 2018.
  16. ^ Yahoo! Music UK review
  17. ^ Drowned in Sound review
  18. ^ Playlouder review
  19. ^ "The Mars Volta - Deloused In The Comatorium". Uncut: 98. August 2003. Retrieved 2013-05-17.
  20. ^ Considine, J. D. (June–July 2003). "The Mars Volta: De-Loused in the Comatorium". Blender (17): 138. Archived from the original on April 8, 2005. Retrieved July 18, 2016.
  21. ^ Tiny Mix Tapes review
  22. ^ Ink 19 review
  23. ^ "Peart named most influential prog drummer". TeamRock. 3 October 2014. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  24. ^ Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (23 March 2010). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 978-0-7893-2074-2.
  25. ^ " – The Mars Volta – De-Loused in the Comatorium". Hung Medien. Retrieved June 19, 2016.
  26. ^ " – The Mars Volta – De-Loused in the Comatorium" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved June 19, 2016.
  27. ^ "The Mars Volta: De-Loused in the Comatorium" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved June 19, 2016.
  28. ^ " – The Mars Volta – De-Loused in the Comatorium" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved June 19, 2016.
  29. ^ "Mars Volta | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved June 19, 2016.
  30. ^ "The Mars Volta Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved June 19, 2016.

External linksEdit