Listening to The Mars Volta’s second full-length is like studying for a final exam: mentally exhausting but with a huge payoff in the end. The five-song album begins with a bit of trickery, starting off with a slow, artsy, acoustic riff in opening track “Cygnus … Vismund Cygnus,” which soon transforms into a furious rhythm that feels as if its spiraling out of control. Infectious guitar riffs by Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and the dynamic vocals of singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala joust in and out of the song, puncturing the beat into a sonic coma, until the song finally winds down after 13 minutes.

The shortest and most radio friendly track on the album, “The Widow,” keeps the album comatose for another six minutes before “L’Via L’Viaquez” flaunts its Latin rhythms and Spanish lyrics. It’s also the only song that brings about any memory of the band’s previous effort De-Loused in the Comatorium.

The shining moment on the album is “Cassandra Geminni,” an eight-movement track that displays prog-rock in top form. One of the song’s movements, “Tarantism II,” is the high point of the disc, featuring the most driving instrumentation on the entire album.

As the album’s final movement comes to an acoustic close, Mute makes the listener feel satisfied yet lacking an understanding of this 80-minute experience, but one thing’s for sure – Frances the Mute is anything but quiet.

Grade: A-

Frances the Mute is currently available.