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Jam sandwich "The rest is silence" (Bristol, UK)

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Black Holes and Revelations
Black Holes and Revelations
Offered by WarehouseDirectUK
Price: £5.88

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps not quite 5 stars, but too far beyond 4 to deny it, 1 Aug. 2006
Okay, so most current Muse fans were converts via 2003's Absolution, a brilliant album in all its ultra-grandiose pomposity, but which was a little too mainstream in its style for the likings of the diehard fans of their 1999 debut "Showbiz" (the sound of a developing band trying to find their focus) and 2001's "Origin of Symmetry" (quite simply one of the greatest rock albums of all time). What is surprising about "Black Holes and Revelations", besides its frivolous and unweildy title (albeit, not quite as unweildy as that of its first single, "Supermassive Black Hole") is that it neither shuns Muse's older fans by casting aside their wonderful dark streak and transforming them into another Coldplay or Embrace clone, making obscene amounts of money but creating nothing of real musical worth, nor alienates their newer ones by regressing into their harder rock-based sound of previous years. instead, it does something entirely different...

Opener "Take a Bow" demonstrates frontman Bellamy's love of insane synth sounds and conspiracy theories; "spell/ cast a spell/ cast a spell on the country you run", he wails in his amazingly distinctive vibrato, before the song eventually explodes into a typical Muse guitar power-melody. judging entirely by this one might be tempted to think that Muse have made very little progression in the 3 years since their last album, but it gradually becomes apparent that they have- "Starlight" will inevitably be criticised for being too anthemic and feel-good, but it has a quality in its counterpointing of Wolstenholme's brilliant bass-riffing with Bellamy's vocals and piano chord sequences which at once demonstrates its roots in such tracks as "Origin of Symmetry"'s "Bliss" and goes beyond them, becoming one of the most beautiful tracks they have ever written.

This works in perfect contrast to the single, "Supermassive Black Hole", which has the sleaziest, poppiest riff ever written, with Bellamy's ultra-falsetto vocals whining over the top, ending up sounding like some sort of evil version of Prince- and by some miracle it works, forming into an irrepressibly catchy song, which one would sing along to, if one had the required vocal range.

The rest of the record unfolds along these lines, fusing innovation with what has been learnt from 3 previous albums, and ending up soaring to some amazing heights- the mandatory spanish style guitar piece is present and accounted for in the psychotic "City of Delusion", which will doubtless be revered by fans of "Darkshines" thanks, basically, to its being an excellent track.

There are dips in the quality, with "Hoodoo" seeming almost superfluous, but even whilst "Assassin" opens with what is, frankly, a bout of guitar masturbation worthy of "Plug-in Baby", the rest of the song unfolds into something else entirely, characterising the ambiguousness which Muse have always touched in their best moments, and which is epitomised in closing track "Knights of Cydonia", a piece of such awesome silliness that one cannot help but love it; where else can you hear a track which starts with sounds of hoofbeats and laserbeams, before exploding into an epic, twisted surf-rock guitar piece accompanied by drums which sound like they've been ripped from a computer game soundtrack, with a brief interlude of "Queen"-style treated vocals, and finally imploding on itself in a manner reminiscent of "Space Dementia"?

And that is Muse's essential appeal: they do things no-one else would ever either dare to do or think of doing, and besides just doing them they do them well, and in "Black Holes..." they have created a record which is as huge as one would expect of their previous offerings, and just as astonishing in its power, magnitude, and invention.

The Lost Riots
The Lost Riots
Offered by westworld-
Price: £3.98

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely Marmite music, 20 May 2006
This review is from: The Lost Riots (Audio CD)
If you've read other reviews for this album you'll see a pattern emerging- generally high praise but a few people absolutely hating it. The reason for this is probably mostly with the vocals- if you listen to one track and the lead singer's voice puts you off then just don't bother, you won't like this album. On the other hand, if you can feel the emotion coming off every strained note, you'll love it. Like the Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne, vocalist Sam Herlihy manages to convey as much emotion with the notes his cracking voice misses as with those it hits; it is not a "good" voice in the conventional sense, but it suits the style so well

And this is what you can appreciate as you come to love the sound of Hope of the States- the rippling complexity of tracks like opening instrumental "The Black Amnesias" and "Black Dollar Bills", with their swirling storms of penetrating guitar noise, counterpointed the country-ish simplicity of "George Washington" and "66 Sleepers to Summer" makes an album which bowls you over on every musical level. The amazingly affecting lyrics only add to this, and when Herlihy screams on highlight track "Neremiah", "You're not alone when the lights go off/we'll stand together when it all stops" you can really believe it.

No Title Available

4.0 out of 5 stars one of the best action films ever, 5 May 2003
when I first heard that the lord of the rings books would be made into a series of films, I, like many others, was a bit sceptical, and when "the fellowship of the ring" came out I didn't like it very much. The producers seemed to have missed the point slightly in their wreckless editing. This film however, manages to stay faithful enough to the books to please their fans, whilst maintaining enough action to still make it an exciting film. The battle at helm's deep for example is astonishing, with graphics so realistic you're not sure if it is computer generated anymore. However, while it is enormous fun to watch, If you go to see it expecting a truly accurate rendition of Tolkein's masterpiece, then you will be dissapointed. For while it gives the battles the exact feeling it should do, it doesn't quite capture the soul of the books, which lies in the seemingly endless history and mythology Tolkein created for his world. This has been sadly overlooked, in favour of lengthening the action sequences.
This is my only other quibble with this otherwiise brilliant film; the battle at helm's deep goes on for far longer than it should do, because despite being only one or two chapters in the books it takes up almost half of this three hour long film, and towards the end it starts to drag a bit, which is a shame, because it mars an otherwise excellent scene, and an otherwise excellent film.

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