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Muse - Absolution CD (album) cover




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3.85 | 467 ratings

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Tristan Mulders
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Muse - Absolution

Muse is one of those mainstream rockbands with similarities to progrock. "Absolution was the album that really brought Muse to my attention. Before, I only was familiar with the occasional single but until recently I never felt the urge to go out and buy and album. It was with the release of their most recent album (and the accompanying single and hype) "Black Holes and Revelations" that I decided to check upon their music. Since I already knew several songs from "Absolution," I thought this would be a good point to start.

Muse has this very typical sound. They use a lot of sequenced keyboards and bombastic piano playing to accompany the heavy guitar fills. Matt Bellamy's voice is rather awkward for a mainstream band with its highpitched tones and lots of breathing 'segments' (intake of air while singing).

"Absolution" has the feeling of a concept album. Part of me says this was their intention, basically because of the inclusion of a song called Interlude and the fact that most lyrics are sort of connected by theme.

The album starts rather eerie with the song Apocalypse please. It works rather good as an introduction despite the fact that it took me a while to get used to (and like) the opening section because of the odd melodies.

What follows is the song Time is running out, which was also released as a single. The introduction is rather un-rockish to these ears with its ultra low keyboard pattern and 'finger snapping' but with the chorus the guitars come out to play. Lyrically this song is rather political, which was even highlighted in the video that was shown for the single on MTV: generals and other military staff members marching while the band is seen performing.

Up next is the album's second single: Sing for Absolution. This epic song is a trip on its own. Each time I hear the song I have to visualise its animated videoclip: the band is presented as pilots of a space shuttle which makes a trip through space and in the song they crash and they crash land in a totally ruined London. thus meaning earth was abandoned, because they left from another planet and still represent human beings, but now I'm drifting. great aspect about the video in connection with the song is that the crash scene in the video is shown as a background for the guitar solo. This guitar solo also really gives the feeling like something is crashing. The destruction of London, that and the lyrics also give this song a bit of a political touch.

Stockholm Syndrome is the first big rock tune on this album. The song's title has always been on my mind ever since I saw Muse on TV performing the song live. During this performance they totally trashed most of their onstage gear. They left only one working unit per instrument so they were able to finish an extended version of the song with wrecked guitar amps, giving it all a very unearthly feeling. I know I loved it at least.

One of the main issues with this album is the fact that the overall mix is sometimes a bit too 'narrow'. I personally like a lot of spacey, atmospheric artists such as Porcupine Tree and those artists mostly have brilliant production in which every instrument is well balanced and noticeable. From time to time the sound is too compact for the compositions on "Absolution". During other moments it works perfect though, such as the bombastic instrumental piano part in the final song on the album Ruled by Secrecy or the minimalist composition Blackout with its classical music feeling to it.

Butterflies and Hurricanes must be the most varied song on this album. It seems as a rather odd choice for a single and I know that around the time it was released it did not impress me that much. but now it must be one of my favourite songs by Muse. With its slow built-up intro and several vocal harmonies, it is not the catchiest of songs presented here. I absolutely love the little piano bridge that marks the transition between the quieter intro and the uptempo sequence that follows it. What's even more beautiful is the section just after the 3minute mark. The song breaks down until only the piano remains and now we get to hear Bellamy's true skills on this instrument. This lasts for a while until we're back for a reprise of the openingsection of the song and another go at the up-tempo chorus.

The small Print is perhaps the most mainstream song on the album. This is the least progressive song perhaps, but it is definitely a great tune to listen to. The chorus is really good too and extremely catchy.

Not being a Muse expert, I did not know that one always has to expect at least one song that's quite a contradiction to the others, so the song Endlessly rather surprised me with its almost dub like groove and chilled-out keyboard rhythm. This is also the song with the biggest quantity of weird noises and awkward melody changes.

The last uptempo song before closing track Ruled by Secrecy is the beautifully titled Thoughts of a dying Atheist. Its chorus is rather catchy, not to mention moody with its lyrics about being afraid to die. The song features a typical Bellamy guitar solo.

After an album filled with mostly uptempo songs, Ruled by Secrecy is a beautiful closing track. With its guitarless composition and only a minimum of rhythmic patterns, this piano song is a song that will be engraved within your memory for quite some time, mainly thanks to the brilliant bombastic piano section around the 3minute mark which gives me shivers each time I listen to it, not to forget Matt's fragile vocals during most of the song.

The one thing I can conclude from this experience is that I was stupid to neglect them for this long but they definitely managed to get me addicted to their music. Hopefully it'll also work the other way around, that Musefans will decide to give prog rock a chance, because both definitely seem to collide one time or another.

Muse: An introduction to prog?

Tristan Mulders | 4/5 |


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