Album for the End of the World
In “Butterflies and Hurricanes,” on the Absolution album, Matt Bellamy sings, “Best… you’ve got to be the best… you’ve got to change the world and you use this chance to be heard.” He certainly heeds his own advice, as is evidenced in the politically charged lyrics of “Take a Bow,” opening song on the new Black Holes and Revelations album. He tells our current leaders that they will “burn in hell for their sins.” The question is whether he is speaking to the unnamed American leader whose name starts with B, or maybe it’s the one in Muse’s native United Kingdom. Probably both. As harsh as this message might sound, it pales in comparison to the call to arms in “Assassin,” where “the time has come for you to shoot your leaders down.” Ouch. At any rate, Muse has become a worldwide phenomenon, selling out three consecutive nights of shows at Wembley Stadium, and they do not take their popularity lightly, utilizing the opportunity to inspire their fans to do something.
“Supermassive Black Hole,” has been both praised and criticized. Its inspiring of opposite reactions is undoubtedly due to the atypical sound. Synthesizers boom in a low register while Bellamy’s voice floats above in falsetto. The cliché is tongue in cheek, “I thought I was a fool for noone, but ooh baby, I’m a fool for you.” I dare you not to groove along with this song. The use of opposites makes for a delicious theme in “Starlight” as well. “I just wanted to hold you in my arms” shows a yearning for closeness, but there is a great sense of desolation: “this ship is taking me far away, far away from the memories of the people who care if I live or die.” The music and the lyrics are so bittersweet, as in “Map of the Problematique,” which opens with “fear and panic in the air.” While there is an apocalyptic theme throughout the album, it is most pronounced here. These lyrics echo those in great apocalyptic literature, where the final survivors struggle with their finality in isolation.
The voice of the hero is never so pure as in “Soldier’s Poem.” It sounds like an Elvis Presley ballad, but beneath the sweet harmonies lies an acerbic depiction of someone serving their country yet challenging those defended to question the rationality of war and the actuality that there is no justice. It is so angry, yet wrapped in pretty paper, that it makes you giggle at the absurdity of it all. Don’t doubt that this is the intent. We are laughing with Muse, not at them.
“Knights of Cydonia” runs on a beat like the pace of a horse’s gallop. This nicely calls attention to the four horsemen in the cover art. It is such a phenomenal way to end the album (as well as live concerts), with octave-spanning accapellas and heavily rocking guitar riffs. It also ends the apocalyptic theme with a statement of fortitude, not at all going quietly into the great night.
The genius of Muse, and of Matt Bellamy in particular, is head spinning. If he were only the lyricist he is, the vocalist, guitarist, or keyboardist, he would be a major talent, but the quadruple threat amplifies his genius to an unheard of level. Was this boy genetically engineered (as the puppies in “Plug in Baby” on Origin of Symmetry), bred and raised by a Mensa society, or spat here by God himself as a gift to music lovers? He is his own four horsemen, isn’t he? If he is heralding the end of the world, then, yeah, that sucks, but at least now I have that one album I’d like to take with me.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
For all the non-Muse fans out there...
I'm not a massive Muse fan. I own all their previous albums, but none of them really captured my attention. Black Holes and Revelations, however, changed all that. Now I can't wait to see them this Summer at Leeds Festival , because, just off the sound of this album, I know they're gonna be immense.
That's not to say it's THAT much different from their other albums - this is still definitely Muse, and the Muse sound. It just seems that they've managed to conjure up a whole album of classics; A whole album of 'Plug In Baby's and 'Hysteria's.
From the opening cascade of 'Take a Bow', this album takes you on a journey, eventually dumping you back on solid ground as the last echos of 'Knights of Cydonia' fade away. No other Muse album has has this many instant classics - songs like 'Starlight' and 'Exo-Politics' keep the fans jumping, 'Map of the Problematique' keeps it all old-school, and 'Soldier's Poem' is a display of just how good Matt Bellamy's voice really is. And that's without even mentioning the dancefloor filler that is 'Supermassive Black Hole' - if you haven't heard this thriller of a single by now, let me promise you, you really should have.
Any problems then? Well, maybe towards the end, it does get minor 'drone syndrome', i.e. tracks seem to suddenly merge into one - 'City of Delusion' seems to be forgettable, since I don't seem to remember it... However, thank the LORD for the finisher 'Knights of Cydonia', SURELY a future single, which kicks the album up the backside and fires you off at warpspeed again.
All in all, you may now call me a Muse fan. I'm sold.
6 of 8 people found this review helpful.
Supermassive Great Album
This is a brilliant album which is a must have for your CD collection. MUSE a collective 3 pieve from Devon rightly were awarded a Mercury Prize for Album of the year for this effort. Matt Belamy and Co take a slice of Heavy Metal, a twist of Dance, a swirl of industrial, a spade of classical and pinch of psychedelic to create Black Holes and Revelations. From the Singles Starlight and Supermasive Black Hole you have a band demonstrating the reason for selling out Wembley Stadium on the preceeding tour and becoming one of Britains biggest bands. I would recommend this album for any fan of Pink Floyd, David Bowie, The Prodigy, Radiohead and The Manic Street Preachers. Powerful stuff from begining to end, turn the stereo up to 11!
Muse - Carrying the torch
As a middle-aged music lover,I'm always trying to find new albums which I can get the same kick out of as my old favourites (U2,Cheap Trick,Led Zep,Genesis,Radiohead,Eels,Jellyfish,Green Day to name a few) , but too often buy an album on the strength of a good single only to find the album just not having the depth of quality of songs to make me want to repeatedly listen and fall in love. Unfortunately, this usually applies to British bands, who, for me,just don't "go for it" in terms of energy,beauty or invention.
Caught the end of a video of Muse recently and took a chance on "Black Holes and Revelations" half expecting to be semi-impressed again and... Absolutely loved it first listen at full volume on my car system - everything my ears want to hear and soul wants to feel , great songs (no fillers), tunes,great playing,power,invention(nicely strange in places), and by the time it all kicks off at the end of "Knights of Cydonia" I feel like I'm listening to one of my old favourites. Highly recommended to anyone who thinks no-one is carrying the torch for British rock music anymore.
Muse - Black Holes and Revelations
Before Black Holes and Revelations, I have to admit I wasn't much of a fan of Muse, but then I heard Supermassive Black Hole and wow what a band. This album has me coverted and I am now in the market for the rest of the cd's from this great band. From the beautiful work that is Starlight, to the adreneline filled Knights Of Cydonia.
Amazing album, track after track of brilliance.
This album must be in your Cd collection.