Muse
Absolution


2.0
poor

Review

by Brendan Schroer CONTRIBUTOR (110 Reviews)
February 9th, 2018 | 62 replies


Release Date: 2003 | Tracklist

Review Summary: I feel sick.

I feel like I’m being gutted with every word I write, because I’m tearing so deeply into a piece of my own upbringing. The passage of time has become a cruel sadist, strangling me with the fretboard of my own guitar as I hear the pieces I practiced so diligently in my adolescence. It’s sickening, but only because of how brilliant and addicting the original experience was at one point. It’s sickening, because I can still recite every fucking word of something that I can’t connect to anymore. The pedestal that shouldered this old giant has since become dusty, long abandoned as newer acts have built their own pantheon from scratch, but it wasn’t supposed to be this way. They sang thoughtfully about revolution and social/political corruption. They incorporated beautiful classical flourishes in their energetic brand of alternative rock. They had a charismatic frontman who was proficient in countless different musical fields.

But, again, the passage of time can be cruel.

Much like Muse’s relevance, the quality of their peak era has seemed to decay with every passing year. What once seemed thought-provoking now reeks of a horrible sense of pomp and self-importance that puts their sincerity in question. What seemed so beautifully elaborate and intricate now sounds derivative and dated. What seemed like a modern-day rock opera of progressive rock grandeur and propulsive flights of metal fancy has now devolved into something that is simply a dull homogeneous slog. The same things that once distinguished Absolution as a modern classic have now somehow worked against it, to the point that many of its tracks are practically unlistenable now. I can’t get through “Falling Away with You,” with its blend of overly melodramatic croons and repetitive melodies, and the horrendously overblown piano theatrics of “Apocalypse Please” become a chore to endure for even the mere four minutes of its runtime. Even a lot of the more uptempo pieces feel a bit lifeless today, and tricks that seemed so impressive to my teenage mind - particularly the piano solo in “Butterflies and Hurricanes” - seem more gimmicky than beneficial to the music now. Adapting influences from Sergei Rachmaninoff into rock music may be cool on a superficial level, but not when it creates a disjointed and disorganized piece of work. The worst thing about all this is that, with a handful of experiences here, I can still sense how much effort and passion were thrown in. “Hysteria” is still a beautifully uplifting alternative rock classic, and the pulse-pounding heavy metal riffage of “Stockholm Syndrome” can still bring the chills. But taken holistically, it all falls apart very quickly. There’s diversity here; I’ll give the band that. We get everything from alternative metal (“Hysteria,” “Stockholm Syndrome”), to symphonic rock (“Butterflies and Hurricanes,” “Blackout”) to even some slices of melodic punk (“Thoughts of a Dying Atheist,” “The Small Print”). But it plays out like a smorgasbord of musical stylings that never comes together in a meaningful fashion. The diversity is more scattershot than complementary, and having Matt Bellamy doing his irritating “operatic” wailing over every different genre doesn’t help matters. This is musical Attention Deficit Disorder disguised as variation.

None of this is pleasurable at all to write, as it definitely hurts removing rose-colored glasses to see how gutting reality can be. But listening to Absolution again was eye-opening (or ear-opening) for all the wrong reasons. Hearing it again is like meeting with a friend after years of distance, only to realize you took completely different paths and pursued completely different interests in the meantime. Deep down, there will always be that bitter disappointment when contemplating what could have been a fantastic reunion, and all that remains is an awkward reminder of how young and naive you both used to be. That, more or less, is the feeling I have now. And I also feel sick.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
SoccerRiot
Contributing Reviewer
February 8th 2018


5164 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I'm not even sure if this is a good review or not... I was just so irritated and sad

clavier
Contributing Reviewer
February 8th 2018


573 Comments


nice review, I like your contrast between past and present perceptions. just a couple of typos:

first line - do you mean "I feel"?
and also: "with every wrote I write"

and "who proficient" would be "who was proficient" instead

SoccerRiot
Contributing Reviewer
February 8th 2018


5164 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Damn, I didn't realize I messed up so much of the first sentence, lol. Thanks for the edits though, I appreciate it

grannypantys
February 8th 2018


1902 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

uh oh. Some sputters are gonna be angry.

Papa Universe
February 8th 2018


14170 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

No, we're not!

Digging: Slow Bloom - Hex Hex Hex

SoccerRiot
Contributing Reviewer
February 8th 2018


5164 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

idk, that avatar looks pretty angry :[

polyrhythm
February 9th 2018


1851 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Ouch. Nothing stings quite like revisiting an old favourite, and discovering it sucks.

To me, Muse were always the musical equivalent of a Michael Bay film - lots of explosions, not a great deal of meaning. If one thought Muse were closer to Fellini at one point, then holy shit, that's a sore realisation to have.

I kinda like this album, I dunno. I never heard the classical flourishes and virtuoso moments as proof of compositional excellence or sophistication. Some Chopin-inspired piano or a complicated riff doesn't make a piece of music important. It certainly doesn't elevate it above junk food status. It just adds to the bravado.

Digging: Jon Hopkins - Singularity

Demon of the Fall
February 9th 2018


6532 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review & I echo some of your sentiments, this was my favourite album once upon a time. There are certainly flaws & inconsistencies where before I couldn't find any.



It helps if you don't take it so seriously, I just see it as light-hearted entertainment dripping in nostalgia now. I understand this is difficult given the pedestal on which it was previously placed.



I disagree on Butterflies though, think that one held up very well in comparison to a couple of the other cuts here.

Digging: Son Lux - At War With Walls And Mazes

SoccerRiot
Contributing Reviewer
February 9th 2018


5164 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Yeah, there are some good parts of Butterflies and Hurricanes. I still enjoy the chorus quite a bit

Demon of the Fall
February 9th 2018


6532 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Have you tried revisiting any other Muse albums? OoS is less consistent than I remember (very 'front-loaded') but still has some jams. Not sure I'm bothered about revisiting Showbiz or Black Holes & I didn't like the rest to begin with.

bloc
February 9th 2018


49996 Comments


You should be demoted for that rating

Digging: Aepoch - Awakening Inception

SoccerRiot
Contributing Reviewer
February 9th 2018


5164 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

ok

guitarded_chuck
February 9th 2018


14915 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

album rules

kalkwiese
February 9th 2018


900 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It does

Digging: Mastodon - Crack the Skye

SoccerRiot
Contributing Reviewer
February 9th 2018


5164 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

@Demon: OoS is actually quite good. I enjoy the heavier elements, and New Born and Citizen Erased are still bangers

TheIntruder
February 9th 2018


373 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album rules nicely. Nice review but wrong rating. It deserves much more. But I am not angry too.

TheSpirit
Contributing Reviewer
February 9th 2018


23459 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this one hurts to read



i have this struggle a lot, not being able to engage in old favorites like i used to



i usually chalk it up to me just being in a different place and try not to "blame" the music



that being said, your description of how cruel time can be really hits home.



good review my friend

DinosaurJones
February 9th 2018


9465 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I haven't listened to this album in a long time, and I'd probably honestly be in the same boat. I don't know if it would resonate the same with me anymore as my music taste has changed quite a bit since I was really into this.

SoccerRiot
Contributing Reviewer
February 9th 2018


5164 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Thanks guys



@Spirit: Yeah, I was inspired a lot by Wine's review of The Devil and God for this one... that whole concept about such a strong initial love turning into bitter disappointment as the years go by. I suppose I should have called "the passage of time" a double-edged sword though, because it can also improve certain albums.

SteakByrnes
February 9th 2018


10666 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This hurt my heart, but it's a nice review



Stockholm Syndrome is still my favorite Muse song

Digging: Unwound - Leaves Turn Inside You



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