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Muse - Absolution CD (album) cover




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3.85 | 476 ratings

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The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars According to the ratings description here in PA, a 5-star album is "essential: a masterpiece of progressive music." So, giving 5 stars to an album that is not 100% prog would be somewhat of a contradiction, as for something to be considered a "masterpiece" representation of any category, it has first to FIT that category.

Even though, from that perspective, giving 5-stars to a prog-related album such as Muse's ABSOLUTION would seem completely incoherent and out of place, let's approach the matter from a different perspective. Let's agree that the concept "progressive music" is still matter of discussion, and that we should be able to decide whether a particular band is progressive or not by our own considerations, of course under the guidance of the principles that rule this website.

In that case, for me, ABSOLUTION is a masterpiece of music, and if not of "true" progressive music (in the style of Yes, Genesis and others), a masterpiece of music that shows progression, that has so many elements of interest that transcends the boundaries of the genre. So, before I start talking about the music itself, let me start by saying that for me this album is worthy of a perfect score.

The music in ABSOLUTION is a mix of many different genres and styles: most of all, we have strong influences from British-pop; we hear sounds from bands like Blur. Another big influence, if not as big as some suggest, is the music of Radiohead. For me, the sounds, the structures, the tone of the music itself is not really similar to that successful band, but we can't deny that Matthew Bellamy's voice sounds very much alike Thom Yorke's, though less in distress, slightly more optimistic and more centered, less nerve-shattering. But that's not all: we can find strong alternative influences here, some punk influences (as in any alternative music) and even a few hints of metal. Yes, there are many riffs here that remind us of the heaviest of genres, played, of course, with the utmost restraint and control. That's what this music mostly is about: emotion but under control; there's a showing of anger, love, hate or happiness but always focused in an objective, which is: making the best music possible. That's why most songs are short, there's no time wasted in delicacies or solos or displays of power or virtuosism. Muse's music is strongly song-oriented, and no doubt the three British musicians are quite the masters of compelling song-writing. There are many progressive-elements here, too, with interesting harmonies, textures and instrumentations, but, as said before, never for the sake of any of them is the music allowed to lose any cohesiveness.

A brief song-by-song:

Intro (?/10) Well, this is just noise, the noise of a marching band. But it blends so perfectly with the start of.

Apocalypse Please (10/10) What a start! Powerful chords signal the beginning of the end of everything. The rhythm is heavy, fate is upon us, the end of the world. But this is more of a reflection about what's coming than a lament. Bellamy's voice is desperate yet never annoying or over-indulgent. Some rays of light of all colors in the way of piano arpeggios and distorted guitar make a fantastic bridge. The vocal harmonies are excellent. A masterpiece of a song.

Time Is Running Out (9.5/10) A groovy, sensuous rhythm of the most minimalist expression, just some percussion and here-and-there piano notes; it grows in power until the chorus explodes with desperation. Such a simple song, such a great song.

Sing for Absolution (9/10) This one starts quietly, elegantly, piano over a soft, perfume-filled atmosphere. This song starts with such class, an atmosphere of smoke, velvet, luxury, yet sung by a distressed person. The chorus is less brilliant.

Stockholm Syndrome (10/10) This track is so incredibly amazing that it would get more than 10 if it was possible. The main riff is very metallic, yet so in control. This is the riff that Dream Theater heard for sure before writing "Never Enough". Such a driving, powerful, energetic, dramatic song I've yet to hear again. Bellamy's voice only adds to the unfolding tragedy; then the chorus: what a perfection of a texture, the piano notes underlining and the guitar spacey arpeggios it just complete the magnificent picture. A true anthem of a rock track, one of the best of this decade.

Falling Away With You (9/10) After such a song, the only good decision was to give us a quiet, mellow, atmospheric moment of relax. And Muse deliver in a fantastic way. A beautiful ballad with acoustic guitar over piano arpeggios and Bellamy's dramatic voice. The music clearly reflects the "falling away" theme of the song, with a descending theme that creates a wonderful, sad, romantic, emotional atmosphere. Another success.

Interlude (?/10) Again, just transitional noise. So brief it doesn't hurt the album.

Hysteria (9.5/10) Another epic track, not for its proportions but for its quality. The riff is, again, very reminiscent of what DT gave us in OCTAVARIUM, and the fact that the New York band chose Muse's music as source of inspiration shows the quality of this British trio. A dynamic, kinetic track that only speaks of drama, controlled drama. An excellent song.

Blackout (8.5/10) A very slow, mellow, quiet, romantic, sedated song. It takes us to a canal, to a canal at night, in the middle of a beautiful city, in a European city, in France, in Italy, where it's normal to let oneself be driven by the movement of water while being lost in the glare of the street lights. Good, very good song.

Butterflies and Hurricanes (10/10) This one starts ambiguously, quietly, with dark, secretive notes. The music depicts the butterflies, and with electronica rhythms it takes us to the hurricanes. Powerful piano chords, a heavy drum rhythm, energy, the fundamental force behind this album: DRAMATIC ENERGY, always presented using the best musical resources to do it. A varied track, the middle section is almost impressionistic in nature, but then it turns romantic, passionate, and then we go back to the 21st century . Outstanding. Marvelous.

Small Print (8/10) A more conventional rock start. A fast, pulsating song. The chorus is not that great but it works. This track is slightly more noisy and less brilliant than most of the songs in ABSOLUTION. It's good that it's so short. Another proof that Muse put much effort into the structuring of the album as a whole. Endlessly (8.5/10) What a classy beginning! Soft percussion and sensuous piano chords, in pure pop style. The texture gets more interesting, yet the song doesn't change that much. The bridge with the spacey, narcotic atmosphere is a welcome addition to an otherwise linear track.

Thoughts of a Dying Atheist (9/10) The fastest song in the album, full of energy, of speed, of relentless drive. The song in itself is pretty simple, standard pop-rock, with a Salmon flavor to it (only one person will understand this), with some Cure or U2. Great simple rocker.

Ruled by Secrecy (8.5/10) Over guitar and piano arpeggios a doubled-voice sings, cries with the utmost peace. A lament expressed after all has been already said, so that there's no need to physically manifest the suffering any longer. A quiet, atmospheric, sad song that closes the album in decent fashion.

All in all, let me quote a phrase from a fellow PA reviewer, Cert1fied who, talking about "Stockholm Syndrome", said that this music is "essentially quite simple, but this is ROCK at a new level, and shows clearly why Muse are prog-related, and why Rick Wakeman himself declared Muse to be a modern Prog Rock band. The riff that finishes this piece defies all words. It's hard to imagine anything better.... Maybe he was speaking about that single track, but the definition applies to the whole album. A masterpiece of rock, a proof that popular music hasn't got to be bad, a testament to the fact that we have to allow ourselves the pleasure to discover music even if it implies us exploring the most "commercial" territories of this, our beloved genre, rock, and progressive-rock at that.

No doubt this is progressive-rock.

Recommended for: Any rock lover; fans of simple, accessible, brilliantly written songs with a flavor or "Brit-pop" to them; fans of great riffs and fantastic texture-work.

Not recommended for: People that dislike emotional, dramatic, energetic, bombastic rock music; people that can't stand their prog not to be long and full of solos; people who think that whatever music that is commercially successful is bad music per se.

.you're missing a MASTERPIECE.

The T | 5/5 |


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