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Snapman (Sheffield, South Yorkshire United Kingdom)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So very close to 5 stars..., 20 Sep 2003
This review is from: Absolution (Audio CD)
Absolution is the closest Muse have come to a 5 star album. Alas, there are several 'black spots' on the album that make it miss the ultimate accolade by the narrowest of margins. But if anything, Absolution is a fantastic record, and suggests that Muse will be able to make that 5 star record sometime in the future.
Absolution is a more melancholy affair than previous two albums, 'Origin Of Symmetry' and 'Showbiz', yet the music remains just as intest. Instead of the barrage of Matt Bellamy's guitar riffs as seen on 'Origin Of Symmetry', Absolution is a more orchestral, and makes great use of Bellamys brilliant piano/keyboard talents. That's not to say that Muse have thrown away those stadium rock riffs, and have lost their ability to rock-out. Not so. Just listen to the fantastic 'Stockholm Syndrome' to see that the Muse of 'OoS' are still present on this album. But don't expect any 'Plug In Babies' on Absolution. The closest you'll get to it here is the irresistably catchy 'Hysteria' and short, poppy, 'Thoughts Of A Dying Athiest'.
So what does the rest of the album offer? The opening track, 'Apocalypse Please', sums up what to expect, with it crashing piano and pounding drums, dotted with synths here and there for good measure. Orchestra pops up on the beautiful 'Blackout', and is coupled wondefully with Bellamy's piano on the album highlight, 'Butterflies & Hurricanes'. Perhaps the biggest departure from the Muse of old, is evident on 'Endlessly', which is a keyboard based, uplifting love song, which would never have been found on 'Showbiz' or 'OoS'.
Despite being about the end of the world, Absolution is much more uplifting than previous albums. It also demonstrates the fact that Muse are much better at sequencing an album now, as is shown by the short 'Interlude' between 'Falling Away With You' and 'Hysteria', to keep the flow of the album going.
However, I gave this album 4 stars for a reason. One reason is the curious inclusion of 'TSP'. While the metal style of the track does give Absolution variety, it feels very out of place, and way too overproduced for a song of it's nature. It's not a bad track, but it might have been better as a B-Side.
Not only that, but the closer to Absolution is a weak anti-climax. 'Rule By Secrecy' is a fairly timid offering that seems more like a rushed afterthought than a proper closer to a great album. Whereas 'Showbiz' and 'OoS' both had fantastic closing tracks, the closer to 'Absolution' doesn't have the intestity that would be normally expected from a Muse closer. It just plods along gently, never really going anywhere, which is a shame, because the song feels like it is going to burst into something great, but never delivers.
However, the good outweighs the bad greatly in Muses third studio LP3. Arguabley their greatest album to date, Abolsution shows Muse inching ever closer to that 5 star album. And on the evidence of this, it won't be long until they reach it.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent Debut., 27 July 2003
This review is from: Showbiz (Audio CD)
Showbiz is the debut album from Muse, which was marred by comparisons to Radiohead upon it's release. Whilst similiarities to Radiohead are visable throughout Showbiz, especially in Matt Bellamy falsetto vocals, this stands as a good album in it's own right.
The album gets off to a brilliant start, with two of Muses finest tracks - Sunburn and Muscle Museum - kicking off proceedings. But after this, things cool off a bit with the OK Fillip, and fairly average Falling Down, which never really achieves what it wants to do.
The middle of the album has a great run of songs. The heavy claustraphobic guitars of Cave, which then goes into the fantastic title track Showbiz, with it's pounding drums and forboding repetetive lyrics, which all comes to a thrilling climax in the final minute. Then comes Unintended, a beautiful ballad, followed by Uno, a short track in similar style to Cave. Sadly, the album starts to lose it's way after this point.
Sober is a track which does nothing to help Matt Bellamys voice, and quickly begins to irritate. Escape then follows, which promises to be something great, but fails to get to the point and never delivers. Then 2 minute Overdue kicks in, a track which features lazy lyrics, and fails to shine when compared to other tracks on the album.
The album closes with the wonderful Hate This & I'll Love You, which builds up into a brilliant climax, and is a fitting end to the album.
Showbiz is a good album, with some fantastic songs on it that sadly lacks consistancy. The trio of Sober, Escape & Overdue really hurt the album, and would have been better as B-Sides, and some of the b-sides (such as Host and Spiral Static) would have filled these places much better. As it stands, Showbiz is an album where you'll find yourself reaching for the 'skip' button on your CD Player a few times.
The album also lacks a distinctive touch, which Muse found on their following record, the brilliant Origin Of Symmetry. This reviewer would have given this album 3 1/2 starts, but it wasn't possible, so I'll give Muse the benefit of the doubt and give the album 4 stars, purely because Muscle Museum and Sunburn are that good.

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