British band Muse broke into international fame with their third album "Absolution," and establishing them as a remarkable young rock band. They're epic, intense, dark, and majestic in a proggy-Pink-Floyd-meets-Led-Zeppelin kind of way, and so it's hardly a surprise that "Hullabaloo" is a remarkably strong collection.
No, it's not a new album. Rather, it's a collection of B-sides, rarities, and a 2001 live concert. Most bands don't sound too great in either case, but Muse does. The first disc is made up of their B-sides and rarities, which tend to be quite good actually.
It doesn't start off promising, with the schizophrenic prog-rocker "Forced In," which would be fine if it weren't for the endlessly cycling synth that obscures everything else. But things get stronger after that, with the explosive downward spiral that is "Shrinking Universe" ("There's nothing left to die for!"), the softer poppy "Recess," and the surprisingly gentle acoustic ballad "Map Of your Head."
Most of the other songs follow those examples, either being epic and bombastic or quieter and more intimate. With, of course, some eerier songs thrown in, like the rippling sweetness of "Shine Acoustic." Are they as good as Muse's proper albums, especially since a few B-sides sound like the lost soundtrack of the X-Files? Not really, but they are remarkably good, and still better than average.
Which brings us to the live performance, which took place in October of 2001, in Paris's "Le Zenith." Well, to put it simply, these guys rock. It opens with a cheering crowd, right before they kick off into a tornado of bass, drums and guitar. Unlike many rock bands, these guys lose none of their power or musical richness in live performances.
The inevitable flaw? Well, that would probably be Matt Bellamy -- he doesn't sound too different from in the albums, which is nice but it's sometimes hard to hear him above the drums, explosive synth and spiralling bass. However, the guys lose none of their intensity musically, and it's hard to find a single flaw in their playing. If Muse are known for their prowess in live performances, then it's easy to see why.
The B-sides are a minor treasure trove, while the live album is a gem in itself, bringing their concert to life as nothing -- except a DVD -- could. A must-have for Muse fans.