Antemasque kicked off their U.S. tour last night in San Antonio. This tour is in support of their brand new self-titled studio album and will be the first time the band plays together under the new moniker.
Omar Rodríguez-López and Cedric Bixler-Zavala are the two main forces behind the group, and they have played together extensively in The Mars Volta and At the Drive-In. Drummer Dave Elitch played in The Mars Volta as well, and he also is a member of Killer Be Killed. The band currently features Flea, bassist for The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Atoms for Peace, as a guest member.
In 2013, Bixler-Zavala and Rodríguez-López got into a rather public disagreement, and The Mars Volta split up a short time thereafter. The two bandmates heatedly disagreed on the idea of a North American tour for what would turn out to be be their last album, Noctourniquet.
The conflict ended with Bixler-Zavala posting an extensive statement, in which he revealed his frustration with Rodríguez-López's refusal to tour.
"What am I suppose to do be some progressive house wife that's cool with watching their partner go fuck other bands? We owe it 2 fans to tour," said Bixler-Zavala.
Understandably, many were shocked to learn that the two had already made up and formed a new band just a few months after their argument. Personal issues aside, it seems that the short time apart has actually benefitted both of the musicians.
They have a clean slate with Antemasque and seem to have done some work on their respective sounds. It results in a fresh album that still holds a place for those longing for the days of The Mars Volta and At the Drive-In.
It's safe to say that Bixler-Zavala's vocals have been subdued since the deep screams of his days in At the Drive-in, which he willingly admits.
Rodríguez-López's playing has changed as well; it used to be mostly centered around complex riffs and always seemed to be largely improvised. To Antemasque's benefit, he has toned this down noticeably in this album, and the duo's combined softening makes for a very well-balanced release. This is certainly not the jarring prog-rock these musicians were famous for in the past, but their ability to simultaneously challenge and please their audience with new material is a sign of their great innovation.
Antemasque is playing in Austin tonight (Aug. 3) at Mohawk.