Saturday, July 16, 2011

Muse: Black Holes and Revelations

     Muse are a big band. Subsequently, this is a big, big record. Selling more than 115 thousand albums during the first week of it's release during the July of 2006, this was at the time their best-selling work. Contrary to the album cover though, which might suggest a group of four, Muse are primarily a trio, lead by frontman Matt Bellamy. This is their fourth release after 2003's critically acclaimed 'Absolution', with fifth album 'The Resistance' appearing three years later. Their sound is unique, which was from the very beginning an attribute I loved. Their music roars with political agitation and cries with emotional passion and rebellious paranoia. Like the title suggests, there are moments here when you recognise and relate to the lyrics so well you have an epiphany of sorts. On the other hand, black holes of guilt and dark imagination drag your attention away from the everyday, carrying you through a world, wonderful in it's unparalleled complexity.
     When the band were young, there were lots of comparisons to Oxford group Radiohead, and in having that band's complete discography (I'm a huge fan), I can safely say Muse have shaken off those shackles. They are a strong, ambitious and hard-working outfit, using all their previous knowledge and refining it to form the legendary eleven tracks that is 'Black Holes and Revelations'. Space-rock. Pop. Glam. Symphonic and in parts operatic sounds. These elements fuse to create a immense rock hybrid, grunting and snorting as it towers above others. As it lets out an almighty scream, powerful guitars and subtle melodies fill the air and you realise, this is something really extraordinary...
     I just want to do this record justice, so I'm stressing about those previous two paragraphs. I think just showing you might be better. I have the complete discography for three bands, and three bands only. Pink Floyd. Radiohead. And Muse. The impression Muse made on me will stay with me forever as a major influence in terms of the music I enjoy listening to, and for that I'm eternally grateful. This is therefore probably going to be a persuasive review rather than an evaluative one. Also, shout-out to Anton, fellow Muser!
      'Take a Bow' kicks things off with it's other-worldly ambition, filling the barren soundscapes with orchestration and synthesised beats before closing on an epic finish. Bellamy's vocals break with passion as he relates a world collapsed and crying, putting him on a level far above many modern rock singers even now. 'Starlight' is a catchier, radio friendly track. The balance of drums, guitars and vocals on every record seem to lend themselves in making Muse feel like a complete band, with every section pulling equal weight. 'Supermassive Black Hole', with it's higher vocals stark against the swaggering deep backing instrumentation, is a song broken by sonic glitches and the furiously angry chorus. Stated as being the track that was the most different to record though, 'Soldier's Poem' is the lamentation of a land ravaged of it's beauty, and one man's struggle to replant it, tired and alone. 'Assassin' is another great number, paranoid in it's speed and thundering in it's whisky-fueled rock and roll. Every minute of this record is outstandingly fantastic, and my words cannot try to comprehend the impression it leaves. You really need to listen through this yourself!
     The album finishes with the longest track, 'Knights of Cydonia', it's catchy melody humming and it's  energetic air commanding your feet to tap and your mouth to whistle. Meanwhile Bellamy screams "You and I must fight for our rights/You and I must fight to survive", a lyric that stands out amongst the mayhem. Muse have worked noticeably hard to deliver something powerful, memorable and thoroughly enjoyable. I have no qualms in saying that this is one of the best rock albums released in 2006, and one that deserves your utmost attention. Check this out and prepare to be both amazed and awe-inspired.