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 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 1 August 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.
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 5 September 2006
This is a very hard album to review. I am approaching this LP on a completely unbiased position. This is the first 'Muse' album I have purchased, so my review won't be comparing this to any other 'Muse' album.
As other reviewers have touched upon, after the opening track (Take A Bow), this could easily become an album you will be listening to for years to come, or an overrated shocker praised far more than its worth by the lying and stinking press....but.....thankfully 'Starlight' comes on and smacks us around the chops for even thinking of anything negative. While this track does nothing that hasn't been done before, it does it with such style and grace that it's the best it's ever been done and Matt Bellamy's vocals are full of raw emotion. Simply fantastic.
Then just as we may feel that the next track has to be a filler, 'Supermassive Black Hole' storms on and delivers the most funky guitar riffs alive and is even perhaps flirting with the Dance genre kind of sound, i mean, if you don't air guitar to this you are just wrong!
By now we should be in the right frame of mind to expect anything, but again, you are ripped from your listening position and placed into a 'sci-fi' journey of epic preportions. The track I am talking about is 'Map Of The Problematique', it is such an amazing piece of music and the lyrics and the way they are delivered is just too amazing. Another emotional beast of a song, wait, actually, it's more of an experience.
'Soldier's Poem' is an odd track, I feel that while it is a good song, it doesn't quite fit in as a slow piece of music in amongst all of this wonderful noise.
'Invincible' on the other hand, is a slow song but is executed alot better and you just have to dig the guitar solo at about the 4.00 minute mark. So yet another great track.
Then the fast and frantic pace of 'Assassin' kicks you very hard and is timed just rightly after a couple of slower tracks. This is a very political track, which Isn't my favourite kind of music, but here it is done so sublimely I care very little about whats wrong or right in my mind. 'Exo-Politics' is in the same political box as the previous track, possibily even more controversial in its lyrics, but it is yet another standout on this absolutely great album.
Things take yet another turn now, with two tracks that sound similar somewhat, they are 'City Of Delusion' and 'Hoodoo', they both have a sound to them that I can only describe as 'alien' not necessarily in the traditional 'Sci-fi' kind of way, as demonstrated on 'Map Of The Problematique', but a more unique musical theme. It all sounds very fresh and new. The band seem to blend this 'Alien' sound with a kind of 'Indian' perhaps theme. I'm sorry to be so vague but it's hard to explain, but whatever is going on it works.
Then, I start yet another new paragraph as we stride along to the phenomenol conclusion, which is know in these parts as 'Knights Of Cyndonia'. It all plays out as some sort or 6 minute mini epic. This album has managed to sustain an amount of belief to this 'Alien' music concept that the band has put together and this track is a perfect way to end it. This one song is nothing short of musical perfection. It actually feels like you're listening to history as you play this track.
Well......And so the album ends, what do you do now, well, you stick it on again and make sure it was actually as good as you thought? Answer? It most definitely was!
If I am to be honest, on my first listen I only found half of the album stunning, but another listen cemented it in my mind. I simply love this album and i hope that you do to. I would say so far, this is in my top 10 LP's this year, which is no easy boast as we have seen the likes of 'Razorlight' and 'Placebo' on top form and let us not forget the behemoth which is the 'Arctic Monkeys', while not to everybodies taste, they have certainly made more friends than foes.
I must note thought that I purchased this 'Special Edition' as it was the same price as the 'Standard' version, I thought brill, snap it up quickly. Please don't do the same. There is nothing 'Special', except that it is in a silly cardboard flip case, that is easy to ruin I imagine, compared to a CD case!
But let's not end on a sour note, this is an experience not to be missed, this is just an amazing album and one you shouldn't be disappointed with. This band is a beyond greatness and Matt Bellamy is a musical genius. They place their targets very high and they very rarely miss them.
Take A Bow - 7/10 Not the best on the album by a long shot, but still a great start to a great album.
Starlight - 9/10 A great song which is different but somehow quite similar to muse's older stuff, love it.
Supermassive Black Hole - 9/10 Muse's first single which really did surprise us all, but I love it.
Map Of the Problematique - 8/10 Like most songs on the album, it may take a couple of listens to get used to, but when you do, you'll wonder why you didn't love it straight away.
A soldier's Poem - 10/10 A beautiful song about war, which is mostly the concept of the entire album, i love it to bits.
Invincible - 10/10 Another great song about friends fighting alongside to bring peace to the world, fantastic! Definitely one of the best on the album.
Assassin - 9/10 A fast paced, agressive song, great to listen to when you need a bit of the stockholm syndrome formula.
Exo - Politics - 9/10 A cool rock/pop song with a great guitar riff and solo.
City Of Delusion - 8/10 Another one to get used to, but for those who enjoyed Butterflies and Hurricanes off the Absolution album, you'll also love this, some great violin work!
Hoodoo - 7/10 Takes a bit of time to get off the ground, but turns into a pretty good song which reminds me a bit of Ruled By Secrecy, as they both have piano solos and build up.
Knights Of Cydonia - 10/10 The best song on the album in my opinion, great vocals and instrumental work, great structure. The perfect ending to another brilliant muse album.
Buy it now!
on 11 July 2006
Having seen Muse live a couple of times now, by accident - at festivals, I feel like I have been blown away, bombasted even by virtuosity.
I think I know by what this band set their compass and it is by the unexpected.
The single Supermassive Black Hole has it's moments, principally in the harmonies... but, Knights of Cydonia is the track of the decade in my opinion. An absolute devil-send, it takes several cliches and compacts them into what I can only describe as a super nova. Greater than the sum of its parts, this song simply stuns.
on 26 September 2006
To both Muse and non-Muse regulars, this has to go down as one of the best albums of this year if not for many many years. Muse's style is very distinctive mixing an element of raw power that disguises their origins as only a 3-piece band and superb harmonys. Theres no mistaking a Muse track when you hear it.
Whilst this album does not progress much on their rpevious work, what you get here is 11 well crafted and superbly arranged tracks that encompass the whole range of Muse's musical repertoire. From the Holst like opener of Take a Bow, highlights include the superb singles Supermassive Black Hole, Starlight which has to be one of the best singles of the year, map of the Problematique which has a distinctive New Order feel about it, Assassin and the final track Knights of Cydonia. Some people have commented that the second half of the album is not as good as the first. I disagree. The whole album is a well crafted piece of work and will appeal to a wide range of poople and will stand the test if time as a superb cd.