on 19 February 2007
Black Holes & Revelations is the album that has reawakened the music fan in me. I can't remember when I last 'got into' an album so much - probably the late eighties/early nineties as a long-haired student listening to the latest hard rock sounds and playing all my Van Halen, Aerosmith, AC/DC to death. Back then I had to save for albums and literally knew every sonic detail by heart. I regret that in more recent years I have bought albums and auditioned them with my finger hovering over the skip track - I wouldn't know the track listing or know how the tracks seague into another; hey, I wouldn't even know half of them were missing(!). For me albums had almost become shelf-fillers rather than truely-prized possessions. I tried to check out contemporary sounds, nu-metal and the like, but could never quite see the point when all the BEST music had already been made..
But suddenly my tired, jaded ears have been totally refreshed and sonically tickled to aural orgasm by the sounds of MUSE! I can't leave this album alone - it follows me from home into the car, gym.. everywhere and once I hear the final flourishes of Knights of Cydonia I have to press PLAY all over again. It's a compulsion! I only wish I had got into this band earlier - I had been curious having heard previous tracks but I was tired of trying out new sounds only to be disappointed. Now my personal REVELATION is that I CAN look forward to new music and don't have to stay in my own private rock timewarp. I'm 37 now, and perhaps too old to cover all my walls and ceiling with Kerrang posters (not sure what the wife would make of it!), but hey, I feel the resurgence of youth and enthusiasm for contemporary music again! I want to check out the back catalogue (reason for logging on), find out about gig tickets. I absolutely love this album in its entirety - bought it on the strength of Knights track and found out I already knew Starlight and Supermassive Black Hole from the radio - but then the beauty is how the album grows on you, every track contributes to the whole and I want to listen to it from start to finish as it is listed (no skipping, rearranging or random play). I am really excited about listening to the previous albums now and have been reading everyone elses' reviews.
A few words on the video now.. you know the Knights of Cydonia video. How cool, crazy, amazing is that?!! Space-western, kung-fu, girl on a unicorn and dancing Chinese man!! Plus the band appearing as jukebox-generated holograms in their own video! If it is ever a private fantasy to have been a Rockstar rather than an engineer, accountant, truck-driver (or whatever we all do), then I would have loved to have been immortalised in that video!
on 16 October 2006
I like Muse anyway - I already had Showbiz and Origins of Symetry but tended to listen to my favourites and skip through the ones that I wasn't so keen on.
With Black Holes and Revelations I don't have any favourites, I LOVE the whole album.
There is definately a "Muse" theme running through the album but unlike previous albums they have taken so many influences from elsewhere that it doesn't get 'samey'
The influences and themes within the songs range from Queen to flamenco to Tchicovski to the Knight Rider theme tune!
Tomorrow morning I will be playing it again and singing along at full belt in my car - shame my commute is only ten minutes!
on 30 August 2006
I was intrigued by the pre-release claim that this album would be more 'upbeat' than the last three, and so was slightly surpised when, barely a minute into the first track, I found myself being informed over and over again by Matt Bellamy that I would burn in hell. Perhaps, I pondered, this is Muse's ironic take on 'upbeat'.
But while you could never describe any Muse track as particularly 'cheery', there is a brighter sound to the album as a whole, particularly the second half. Indeed, I've taken to skipping the first track as a matter of course, not because it's a bit down, but because it's actually the weakest thing here.
Much has been said of the band's new 'direction', and whilst 'Supermassive Blackhole' (the first UK single) and 'Knights of Cydonia' (the first US single) are, for different reasons, a departure from earlier work, they still, to my ear at least, sound like Muse. Afterall, 'Bohemian Rhapsody' sounds nothing like 'Somebody to Love', but they both sound like Queen.
Indeed, it's good to hear them flexing themselves in this way; it would have been all too easy for them to simply knock out a poor man's 'Absolution', and whilst there are moments that sound like they could have been on an earlier album, there are also bits that sound like they should have been on the soundtrack to 'Kill Bill'. It's up to the individual to decide if this is a good thing or not, but I suspect that any album that gets fans mumbling about the band 'changing' is usually a sign that it's worked.
on 6 August 2006
Never a band to rest on their laurels, Muse have come back harder and better than ever with this album. Anyone who thinks they've deserted their roots clearly hasn't listened to it properly. So many tracks are instantly recognisable as PURE MUSE: Starlight, Soldier's Poem, Assassin to name just a couple. But the absolute corker of the album is saved for the very end, in the shape of Knights of Cydonia, so much so that it just makes me want to play the whole thing straight over again! Which I'm doing right now :-)
Muse have come back with the album of their lives, and I can't wait to see them live this year - well done lads!!
on 27 June 2007
It's Muse so obviously it;s going to be a fantastic album. Personally, this is not my favourite Muse album but it is still one of the best albums around. Here is your track by track guide to BH&R
1. Take a Bow - Take a Bow is like marmite, love it or hate it. I personally think it is criminally underrated. The song itself is a fast synth in the background whilst Matt Bellamy sings. The song is relatively slow at first but still manages to sound powerful. The end of the song sounds even more powerful and ends on a very loud squawk from Bellamy. 9/10
2. Starlight - This one is the instant pop hit. An extremely good song but not one of the best. A fantastic song to sing along to mind, and it is quite an uplifting song. 8/10
3. Supermassive Black Hole - This funky track does not sound like Muse at first but I instantly loved it. Although the song is not really a challenge to play on any instruments, still comes out sounding like a great hit. 9/10
4. Map of the Problematique- A soft song using synths. This is a fantastic song. 8/10
5. Soldiers poem - Everyone dislikes this because it is short and slow and sounds too much like Queen. This is exactly why is it good! The singing is beautiful as is the piano playing 7/10
6. Invincible - One of the songs that instantly stood out to me on the first few listens of the album. Matt makes good use of his new Kaoss Pad installed in his Manson guitar. The song itself begins slow but towards the end becomes extremely powerful 10/10
7. Assassin - The heaviest song on the album probably. Has Chris screaming "Shoot, kill, shoot our leaders" in the background, pretty damn good. 9/10
8. Exo Politics - A nice simple song, mainly using just the normal instruments, guitar, bass and drums (although a bit of kaoss pad in there too). Nice solo. 8/10
9. City of Delusion - One of the best bass lines ever, and not even that difficult. This song contains a trumpet solo so you know it's going to be good. Probably the best song on the album 10/10
10. Hoodoo - Personally my least favourite song on the album. It isn't bad but it fails to make me want to listen to it again and again. I sometimes skip this one 6/10
11. Knights of Cydonia - Prog Rock meets Sci-fi. Fantastic song, but I'm sure you already know that. This single did not nearly get enough air play. 10/10
12. Glorious (Only if you buy the Japanese version) - Glorious is a fantastic extra track for Japan, which in my opinion should be on the album worldwide. This is joint best song on the album with CoD and others. 10/10
on 8 November 2006
First heard the single 'Super Massive Blackhole' without recognising it as Muse and thought it was stunning. When I discovered who it was, I couldn't wait to get my hands on the album. The verdict: an absolute blinder! Every track is special and even though it is more mainstream than any of their previous albums, I have yet to get bored with it. I expect this album to send Muse into orbit and deservedly so. Comparisons with Radiohead are inevitable but I think Muse have now transcended this, particularly as Muse's music currently betters that of the once No. 1 exponents in this genre.
Stick this on your Christmas list, you won't be disappointed.
on 31 August 2006
Amazing! Four stunning albums in a row, how many bands can produce such fantasic music? From Showbix to BH&R Muse have consistenly created brilliant music. This is the first review i have written, and purely because I cannot believe they have made another brilliant album. They are one of the best bands in the world at the moment. If this is your first Muse album, and you like it, then I seriously recommend you go back to the beginning and buy Showbiz, then Origin of Symetry then Absolution, to get the full Muse package. (there is a live and Bsides album too (Hullabaloo, which is also worth a listen..)
Hope everyone enjoys this as much as I did.
Go and see them live too !!! THEY WILL ROCK YOUR LITTLE SOCKS OFF!!
on 14 December 2009
Muse in 2006, were in a position of great power. They were 3 albums into their career and though by now they were certainly a mainstream concern, they hadn't quite become truly massive yet. Impressive reviews and a spectacular headlining slot at Glastonbury had made them a band to watch in Britain, as well as most of the rest of Europe, but a messed-up album release by their American record label had meant they had still not quite made it stateside. So, as the world awaited their 4th album, Muse stood on the edge of an abyss. They needed only to jump to become the most important British rock band since Radiohead...
...and jump they did. The result was 'Black Holes and Revelations':
The album starts with the the sound of synth-y strings escalating further and further upwards. This is 'Take A Bow'. Bellamy sings lyrics of a totalitarian leader who will 'Burn in hell for your sins'. The song is classic Muse rock-opera, but with a slight dance feel to it too. It keeps building and building upwards, sounding bigger and bigger until it finally ends. An epic start. After this comes 'Starlight', which sounds like 80's pop, but in a good way. It is among the catchiest songs Muse have written, but still feels rather heartfelt and well-written. This is followed by another very catchy song in the form of the disco-bonanza 'Supermassive Black Hole'. Sounding like a cross between Prince, Britney Spears and Marilyn Manson, it is one of Muse strangest songs, but it works. The disco-sound continues with the epic 'Map Of The Problematique'. Combining a mix synth, guitar and piano, it is easily one of the best songs on the album, and one that still stands among their best ever. The disco influence ends here, but moves onto something just as experimental and unique with 'Soldier's Poem'. Sounding like a barbershop quartet singing about the war in Iraq, it's short but extremely sweet, showing that Muse can seemingly apply themselves to any genre with excellent results.
The 2nd half of the album starts with the pounding power-to-the-people anthem 'Invincible'. Now, while i can fully admit that there is something extremely cheesy and clichéd about a band singing 'together we're invincible', Muse manage to do so in such a heartfelt and musically-accomplished way that it somehow manages to work. A more classic sounding Muse song follows in the form of 'Assassin', a heavy-rock number from the perspective of a terrorist. The lyrics, with their cries of 'Shoot your leaders down!' and 'Destroy Demonocracy' are great, as is the thundering bass-line from the fantastically talented Chris Wolstenholme. Next comes 'Exo-politics', another more classic Muse sounding song, with lyrics of an impending alien invasion. Although it is probably one of the album's weaker tracks, it is still alot of fun.
The final three tracks on the album, leave aside the disco, leave aside the heavy rock and move onto yet another influence of Muse; the fantastic Ennio Morricone, an Italian composer most famous for his scores for the Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns. The first of these three tracks: 'City Of Delusion', seems to tell the story of a bandit who is chased whilst fleeing a city. It almost sounds like a Mexican version of Absolution's 'Butterflies And Hurricanes', and while it doesn't quite reach the heights of that song, it is still great, with a powerful chorus, a thumping bassline, and best of all a trumpet solo at the end. It is followed by one of Muse most underrated songs; the beautiful 'Hoodoo'. It starts with a simple spanish guitar sound before moving onto a beautiful verse where Bellamy comes as close as he's ever come to the tenderness of Jeff Buckley. Suddenly with the swirl of a piano the song builds into a rock-opera climax, before quiet-ing down once again for a beautiful ending. Last of all comes perhaps the most well-known song on the album, the epic 'Knights Of Cydonia'. It starts with the sound of horses galloping, lasers firing and an alarm ringing, before BAM! the intro guitar riff hits and the song begins. It sounds like a mix of Morricone and Led Zeppelin, and has the song of a future classic rock-songs of the 00's. The verse goes on till suddenly we come to the Queen-like outro, where Bellamy screams the lyrics: 'No ones gonna take me alive. The time has come to make things right'. It builds and builds until finally the outro riff hits, and the song climaxes the album in the best possible way.
Overall Black Holes And Revelations is a fantastic achievement. It keeps the fine catchy production of Absolution, but experiments all over the place with it, going from Disco to Barbershop Quartet to Heavy Rock and Western. Every song is a finally crafted gem, and the album flows brilliantly. It will of course, all be too much for alot of people out there, but approached with an open mind, Black Holes And Revelations is the best album of 2006 and one which will surely stand among the decade's best also.
OVERALL SCORE: 10/10
Muse are incapable of making a bad record, of course, thanks to outstanding musicianship. This record is more refined (but less fun) than their best album, Origin of Symmetry. This time around, you get the feeling that the songs are more direct, relevant, less whimsical than on past albums.
Undoubtedly this is the album that announces that Muse are no longer a cult band (if they ever were) but a fully mature mainstream rock band, stadium fillers and superstars. I mean that in a good way; good luck to them.
on 19 February 2010
On the Day of the Revolution, when We the People rise up to reclaim our land from the corrupt elite, I will be at the front of the mob with a pitchfork.
And this album will be on my iPod.