Review Summary: Muse explodes out of their Radiohead shell with a bombastic statement of originality.
Following 1999’s Showbiz
, Muse fielded a lot of criticism over their uncanny similarities to Radiohead. There is no doubt that Muse caught wind of it because everything about Origin of Symmetry
sets out to dispel those notions. Even with an influx of piano-laden tracks and classical influence, the album still manages to kick the energy up a few notches without sacrificing style.
Throughout Origin of Symmetry
, a tangible atmosphere is developed that never really relents. It is one grand flowing embodiment of energy, with constant peaks and valleys in tempo that exemplify Muse’s affinity for electrifying guitar riffs, piano ballads, and exploding choruses all at the same time. Often, this raw intensity is formed by coupling lead riffs with intricate keyboard notes that give listeners the impression that more is yet to come. “New Born” and “Space Dementia” are prime examples, featuring quick (but not overpowering) keyboards that work extremely well in the context of the whole song. “New Born” is probably the more common of the two, as it features one of the greatest guitar riffs in Muse’s entire catalog. The bubbling piano notes set the stage early on, until an accompanying bass line and Matthew Bellamy’s impressive guitar skills take full command for the remainder of the song. It is this kind of “building to a climax” sensation that defines Origin of Symmetry
, even though it also subtly presents one of the album’s only true weaknesses.
More often than not, Origin of Symmetry
fails to take advantage of its own bid for an epic moment. The aforementioned electric guitar riff in “New Born” capitalizes on the song’s introduction to enthrall the listener and send them flying sky-high into the journey that is Origin of Symmetry
. “Plug in Baby” does so with an unforgettable guitar riff and an absurdly catchy chorus. Yes, some other similar moments can be found, but other than those two, they are few and far between. For the most part, the album continuously builds upon itself, seemingly bursting from the seams with energy. The best way to take advantage of that energy is to give the listener something to walk away from the album with; something they will remember. Not that every song on an album has to be catchy
, but having only a few memorable moments detracts from the album’s potential. Even on Showbiz
, the band managed to squeek out some infectious rhythms such as “Muscle Museum”, “Fillip”, and “Falling Down.” For all of its glorious moments, Origin of Symmetry
leaves you wanting more.
With that said, the album certainly does not lack in musicianship or quality song crafting. Origin of Symmetry
accomplishes everything that it possibly could in such a short period of time to help Muse distinguish themselves as unique artists. Matthew Bellamy puts on quite a display of talent, manning lead vocals, lead guitars, and piano/keyboard. The opening minutes of “Bliss” show off some of his strongest piano work to date, while “Hyper Music” and "Citizen Erased" show him unleashing more of a wild, uncontrollable side with scratchy, abrasive sounding riffs. “Feeling Good” shows Muse dabble in more of a soulful funk-style ballad, which Bellamy nails vocally from start to finish. He essentially takes what Showbiz
hinted at, fully develops it, and refuses to hold back on the whirlwind of progressive styles created just for this album. The result is an atmospheric and truly breathtaking record that many fans consider to be their best. Origin of Symmetry
shines from a songwriting/technical perspective and gives us a truly original album whose sound is unmatched in the past decade.