With stories of recording in a creepy old French chateau and then leaving for a New York studio, it would seem Muse haven’t quite lost their spark, and they do seem pretty out there in terms of the other bands around at the moment. Stories that Muse wanted to go in a different direction preceded this release that the band didn’t want to create Absolution II: back to the planets, but more of an expanded album in ambition and content. Anyways Muse is back with their fourth album Black Holes and Revelations
. Their last two albums proved that they are with out a doubt so far they band of this generation.
Explosive live shows, and have the ability to convert their dynamic musicianship into fantastic albums. They’ve honed their craft and seem to be a band with limitless ambition. And with this release seem to have turned another corner and done something unexpected. Muse have gone pop. Well popish anyway. But the biggest change is the lyrics. They’ve expanded on the themes raised in previous and even branched out into politics. Perhaps taking inspiration from the French riots last year. But overall its business as usual from the trio.
Onto the review:
The album kicks off with Take a Bow
, which is explosive as a muse album opener could be. Beginning with some synth, which stays constant through the song, with some strings also present in the intro. Comparisons could be made with other muse songs like Butterflies and Hurricanes. Matt Bellamy lyrically is on top form with some poignant lyrics about those that are corrupted, ‘our freedoms consuming it self what we’ve become is contrary to what we want’. This continues to about the 2:30 mark when suddenly Guitars kick in, bass and drums start here properly too. The musicianship in the second part art is top-notch wit some crescendo drumming and sliding bass lines. What follows is even stranger; if you thought the bands first single from this album Super Massive Black Hole
was pop then prepared to be taken aback. Starlight
is built around a catchy piano hook (think abba) some solid drumming, and of course a fuzzy bass line. It then morphs into guitar pop in the chorus, which screams that this will be anthem; with Matt Bellamy yelping for loved ones now far away.
The first single from this album, Super Massive Black Hole
shocked fans, and it took me a fair bit to get into this song. The song kicks off with a fuzzy guitar and bass, and some solid drumming it really is a good song. Bellamy is back at his Falsetto best, again singing about relationships. The solo is pretty good too, its effects laden and sounds slightly out of the ordinary (which I suppose is normal for muse).
The next song Map of The Problematique
is another great song with a weird synth like intro and a piano, which I mistook as a choir first time of listening, which progresses into a typical muse song, with more solid drumming and some good audible bass lines, mixed with some good singing (not falsetto though). The next song A Soldier’s Poem
is the most obvious political song on the album with Bellamy putting himself in the moral situation of a soldier. And is most probably an attack on the situation in Iraq. The song raises some good lyrics too ’I will still lay down my life for you, and do you still think you deserve your freedom’
. Musically it’s the sinister ballad muse have come to write a few times. With some slow drums and acoustic guitar the vocals are delivered softly and quietly. Matt actually sounds quite like Jeff Buckley on this particular song.
Starts out very slow with military style drumming in the background over what sounds like an organ, with the bass also playing in the background. Around halfway the bass becomes louder and the military drumming stops and normal drums resume. At around the 3 minutes the bass starts to change and guitar kicks in for another effects laden solo, with the bass distorted. Another great song. Invincible changes the pace and leads to Assassin
, which after a short strange guitar intro leads into a heavy instrumental section. Dom also shines on this song with some excellent drumming during the heavier parts, even a couple of short drum solos too. The whole song is epic from the excellent drums to the effects laden guitar and solid bass, which is not exceptional but good non the less, to the lyrics, which refer to toppling governments and inducing war.
is another guitar led song, which begins with short drum intro, which is then joined with a guitar intro before; strange eerie noise begins which sounds like an old stylophone before the fuzz distorted bass comes in. The chorus is the best thing about this song and the lyrics are some of the best on the album, exploring Matt Bellamy’s opinion aliens and governments. Great song. City Of Delusion
follows on from the other three great songs and Chris produces a really good basin this particular song. It begins with a quiet acoustic with Matt singing and stays like that until about 40 seconds in when the bass and drum come in. Chris plays a nice alternate bass line, which sets this song off well. There are also some great strings, which really better the song as well. The chorus too is amazing with an electric led guitar and sounds fantastic. The second bridge is also good with the acoustic playing with the bass and drums but with now a trumpet, which gives the song, a Spanish feel. This theme carries on into Hoodoo
with the guitar doing this Spanish almost flamenco thing at the beginning before the vocals begin. This carries on with a few chords played in between lines, until the drums come in along with a piano. About halfway the piano becomes more dramatic the bass kicks in, and the drums change and play some fills. Before stopping and just Bellamy strumming quietly. Another great song
The album leads out with the impressive Knights Of Cydonia
, which can only be classed as an epic. Beginning with a weird and yet wonderful sound intro, which is like that of some alien spacecraft, the song begins. Galloping from horses hooves, and horses neighing can be heard before another array of weird and wonderful sounds kick in. Overall its gives the impression that someone is being abducted. Before drums bass and guitar all kick in. With some great backing vocals of ‘aaahhh’ ‘aaahhhaaa’. Before the main part of the song kicks in. The music is played like it’s galloping if that makes sense. The guitar does some weird stuff and doesn’t actually sound like a guitar at some points. Overall this beginning part sounds like the opening music of an old western film. The proper vocal begin at around the 2-minute mark. And this sort of musically repeats itself until around the 3 minute mark, when the music stops and its just the Bellamy along with backing vocals singing ‘ No ones gonna take me alive take me alive, the time has come to make things right, you and I must fight for our rights, you and I must fight to survive’. This is repeated for a while and while its being sung the music builds up slowly getting louder and louder. Then around the 4-minute mark the song really gets going and morphs into a guitar led heavy outro. The bass, guitar and drums are all; faultless in this end part and really do sounds amazing with some nice drum fills from Dom.
So to conclude with this really is a classic album. Muse show a new direction with songs like Super Massive Black Hole and starlight, but manage to do what they do best in songs like City of Delusion, Assassin, and Take A Bow. The drums are the best they’ve been on any album, with the guitar shining too. The bass on this album is solid with Chris showing what he can do, although some better bass would’ve been nice it still doesn’t detract from this great album
Within the genre 5
Outside the genre 4.5