Energy is the key to the universe. Energy is the essential source for anything to be created. Without getting into a moral debate, if you believe in the Big Bang theory, then energy is the reason why the universe exists. Now I make some pretty abstract openers that usually fail, but where am I going with this? Well, when I think of Muse, the first thing that comes to mind is energy. Their music, especially on Origin of Symmetry, is aggressive, virtuosic, and...well, energetic. Origin of Symmetry is the epitome of Muse energy, other than live shows, therefore making it their best album.
Origin of Symmetry contains big, chunky guitar riffs, blistering basslines, and vibrant keyboard lines. However, Origin of Symmetry also contains beautiful piano, melancholic ballads, and powerful organ. Muse manages to create catchy singles, something not accomplished on Showbiz, and most of all, this album defeats all criticism of Muse being a Radiohead clone. While Yorke and Bellamy's styles are similar, Thom Yorke would never sing Megalomania the way Bellamy does. Also, Bellamy, as stated many times, has energy. Yorke sticks to a depressing, (albeit Pablo Honey and some of the Bends) melancholic style. Chris Wolstenholme steps into his glory with distorted basslines shown in Citizen Erased and New Born. While Dominic Howard never stands out until Muse's latest endeavor, Black Holes and Revelations, he plays adequately enough for the album.
The album creeps its way in with the lead single New Born. Starting with a keyboard line which is then countered by a piano and driven by an impressive subterranean bassline, the intro contains a quiet intensity that lets the listener know that there is plenty more to come. And after Matt holds out a long falsetto note, the onslaught begins. A huge, heavily distorted guitar riff takes center stage, and the rest of the band adds in, creating one of the greatest riffs in Muse history. The intro is repeated, except with a guitar and drums rather than a keyboard. The energy is kept throughout the entire song, and certainly makes for one of the most rocking songs on the album. The second chorus (different from the intro) unleashes with a half-time feel. The chord progression goes through chords quickly and flawlessly, still maintaining the initial ferocity. These two riffs trade off throughout the song and the huge riff from before takes the song out for the outro.
The next great standout, Space Dementia, is criminally underrated. Space Dementia is entirely piano-based, what Sunburn was to Showbiz and what Apocalypse Please was to Absolution. Starting with a sparse piano intro with some rolled chords, Space Dementia again starts restrained. However, once the main piano riff comes out, the song immediately turns into an aggressive and powerful piano epic. Matt's lyrics are somewhat lacking, but the awesome piano riff makes up for that, as the music is the real standout on most of the album anyway. Chris and Dom play under Matt since this is really his feature for most of the song. After going through the chord progression twice, the song drops right into the chorus, which is an anti-climatic spaced out chorus. Matt's voice slowly climbs down throughout, and then a half step piano interlude leads back into another verse. Following the second chorus, the song unleashes a spaced-out, epic outro. Piano runs build tension up until a release of a really slow, chunky rush of sound. All that can be heard is static for the end of the song.
Many consider Citizen Erased to be the single greatest song Muse has ever produced. The song starts with a two note guitar riff, and then the bass enters with a variation on that riff, playing through a 4-chord progression, varying on A minor. A keyboard voice enters, playing the chords while Matt sings the verse in his mid-low register. The chorus showcases Matt's falsetto and lets the keyboard be the main instrumental theme. After the first chorus, the song lays back, allowing a clean guitar solo to take the stage. Matt sings another verse, this time held back and melancholic. The song picks up energy in the prechorus, and builds up to what is expected to be the chorus, but actually reverts back to the intro riff and then a guitar solo, mainly just a bunch of guitar effects. Obviously, this section was created for Matt to do whatever he wants in a live show. After the guitar solo, the long awaited chorus arrives, only to bring the song down to an even more laid back feel. The song progresses into a piano ballad, and a quite beautiful one at that. The piano chords are voiced quite low, and the bass is able to accompany this well. The song ends with Matt holding a falsetto note and a low pedal tone of the main chord tone.
While many songs following this are excellent, to save review space I'll talk about the single greatest one, the epic closer Megalomania. Muse has always created excellent closers to every album they have produced, but this is the best in their history. The song starts with the organ holding out the chords in the chord progression, and then drums and bass enter. Matt enters singing extremely low for his range, almost in the baritone area. Throughout the verse, his voice gradually gains confidence, which may be a mistake or a stylistic idea. I like to think the latter. Then, the epic, climatic chorus enters, which huge organ chords. Matt holds out his words, gradually climbing up his range throughout the chorus. The second verse has the organ playing a melodic line similar to the one heard in Bliss. A violin countermelody can be heard faintly. When the second verse rolls around, Matt tracks his voice to create vocal harmonies, the added voices in his insanely high falsetto range, a full octave above his obviously tenor voice. After a bridge of pure energy, the song closes out with a huge, epic organ chord.
Origin of Symmetry, while having no defining concept like their later endeavors, has many of the greatest Muse songs of all time. The album is an excellent starting point for those looking to get into Muse. Hopefully, Muse will be able to release some of the magic that this album creates. Muse says they used "magic mushrooms" in the creation of this album. Maybe that's what they need.