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Muse - Black Holes And Revelations CD (album) cover




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3.70 | 493 ratings

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4 stars Old school Muse(s)!

How could Muse live up to their previous masterpiece Absolution? One of Alternative rock's most promising modern acts packs up their things, and goes back in time with Black Holes and Revelations, harkening back to every era except for this one (maybe to escape the incessant Radiohead comparisons).

Ask a young kid back in the 50's or 60's what he wanted to be when he grew up, and you would've probably gotten one of two answers: a cowboy or an astronaut. Some of the songs on Black Holes sound western tinged, while some sound spacey, decked out with electronic effects.

The 70's? With hard arena rocking sounds and progressive tweaks, Muse incorporates a myriad of influences into their work. For instance, the opener, Take a Bow, starts out with a Baba O Riley style synth line that goes on for around two and a half minutes in the forefront. Then, the first guitar chords crush down, a la In the Flesh?, and I commend Muse for smashing together two epic album openers, like some overeager DJ trying to do some original remixes.

The 80's? Unfortunately, yes, there are some elements of the 80's on the album, and writing 80's style love songs doesn't especially work at all. The weak points of the album come here, with Map of the Problematique and Invincible. Love songs don't work on an album with as spaced out as this, and like 80's songs, these love songs overstay their welcome, clocking in at 5 minutes a pop.

There are also two good, fairly straightforward, hard rocking songs: Exo-politics and Assassin. With one right after the other, with their fast and furious guitar lines, they just work and seem like they compliment one another.

Soldier's poem is where Bellamy's vocals and lyrics take center stage, a two minute piece of filler with a simple drumbeat and sparse instrumentation. As I said, filler.

Also of note are the two spacey singles: Starlight and Supermassive Black Hole. First off, I have a hunch that if both are played simultaneously, it'd sound like Time is Running Out. Muse can sound like themselves a bit. The two singles do cover two different ends of the single spectrum. Starlight is synth-ed out Britpop (which also contains the title of the album in its lyrics), and I like, though it is blatantly poppy.

Supermassive Black Hole is a dance song, that sounds like Prince might've wrote if we launched him into orbit. Did I mentioned that it's as catchy as hell? I also dig the modified, robotic voice that announces the title of the song in the chorus. As a side-note, I don't know if it is innuendo, but if it is, Supermassive Black Hole would be the singular greatest innuendo ever.

I've saved the best for last with the album. So did Muse as the best songs are the last few, and they all have this wicked Western sound that I mentioned earlier. City of Delusion's chorus is epic, with its galloping guitar part leading the way. Hoodoo has a distinctly Morricone-esque guitar part, which accounts a bunch for the western feel of it. I also like the trumpet parts.

Then comes the album closer, Knights of Cydonia. It blends Muse's two pet projects on the album: spacey junk and western junk. This means it is a western spacey bit, which gives it a very distinct Star Wars-ish feel. At six minutes in length it has all the time it needs to work it's magic. It builds up, starting with whinnying horses, and laser guns being fired. One galloping guitar part later, trumpets blare announcing the lyrics. This is where Bellamy's pipes kick in, wailing away like Freddy Mercury possessed. It's very anthemic, very epic, and sublimely done. The epic climax of the song is probably the vocal break that proceeds a wicked solo. This all provides for a veritable tempest, with soaring highs, and eerie lulls. Best song on album, easily one of Muse's best, homogeneously blending the wild west and the final frontier.

I'm also a sucker for album covers, and Muse's does not disappoint. It also mixes spacey and western, with 4 somewhat sharply/eclectically dressed horsemen of the apocalypse (unless I'm reading into this far too much). Cool stuff.

Overall, Muse strikes oil again, in the fickle world of music. A number of solid tunes, mixed in with high apexes, and only a few clunkers. It's more good than bad, and a prime example of mainstream music done right. As I've said before, the attempts at doing something different work very well, and make me excited to hear their next one. 4 stars, as it is an excellent addition to any prog music collection.

cookieacquired | 4/5 |


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