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Muse - Origin of Symmetry CD (album) cover




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3.97 | 427 ratings

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4 stars Origin of Symmetry is Muse's follow up album to the decent, if slightly samey, Showbiz. Right from the opening track you notice two things that have changed in the two years between Showbiz and Origin of Symmetry. The first is that the band has found a real flare for the dramatic in their music, and display it regularly in this album. The other is that they are not afraid to experiment with effects, whether it be on guitar, bass or with keyboards.

The opening track of the album, New Born, starts on a similar not to the opener of Showbiz, Sunburn, by using a solo piano track to get the ball rolling. However, the piano is used as an integral part to the song and nicely lulls you into a false sense of security before the song really rams home. Its right here that the music gets dramatic with guitars sounds that alternately crunch and soar throughout the album, but always tastefully to fit the song.

On the musicianship front I think the band really pushed their boundaries on Origin of Symmetry, with bassist Chris Wolstenholme really coming forward as a capable bassist. At times I would find that the bass would only do the bare minimum required for the song on Showbiz but here he really moves to the fore alongside Matt Bellamy. I'm beginning to find effects from his bass here that I would normally expect to here coming form a keyboard, yet he makes some of the strongest bass lines going in recent years that really grove. Bliss, Plug In Baby and Citizen Erased are perfect examples of this and show just how much he has improved when comparing to earlier tracks like Fillip and Escape.

Bellamy's guitar playing hasn't really changed here. He still takes the stage with some really spiky, tortured guitar riffs and solo's that grab your attention. However, Just like bassist Wolstenholme, Bellamy has really come forward in his musicianship but for him its on the keyboards, which take a much more prominent role in the music than before. This helps to flesh out the sound of the album, giving them new options, but also helps build up some of the atmosphere. Bellamy's singing is also top notch here. I personally believe that he is one of the best singers of the current generation, to be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Daniel Gildenlow and Mickael Ackerfeldt. Sadly, the drumming of Dominic Howard doesn't seem to have improved as much as the playing of the other two band members, it's a little wooden and lacks real expression in all but the heaviest and softest of parts here. Still not bad though.

So what of the songs, the music, I here you say. Well, it's a bit of a mixed bag here, though on the whole an impressive collection of songs. New Born, Space Dementia, Citizen Erased, Dark Shines and Feeling Good are the songs that really show the dramatic flare that has grown in the bands music brilliantly. Bliss and Feeling Good are the two songs that prove that Bellamy has really improved drastically with the keyboard and Bliss and Citizen Erased does the same for Wolstenholme and his bass playing. A few of these songs still show overtly the bands commercial clout by being little more than powerful rock songs, though rather good ones. Plug In Baby shows this best but Hyper Music and Dark Shines show this rather well too.

Citizen Erased deserves special mention as a brilliant track, and, in my opinion, the best song that Muse have ever recorded. I just love the way it builds instrument by instrument to an early crescendo, and then slowly fades to a much slower, smother passage before building and then slowing again, a great contrast between dramatic bombast and eerie beauty. However, I'm none too keen on some of the tracks beyond here. Micro Cuts, Screenager and Megalomania all sound like the band have just started to run out of ideas and are half heartedly trying to take certain aspects from earlier songs and flesh them out. They make for nice, but not particularly grabbing or memorable music.

Origin of Symmetry is a good album. Any Prog fan looking for something different and unique could do a lot worse. I give this album 4 stars as this album contains some real gems, but doesn't have a complete track list of special songs that it could have had. Particular highlights are New Born, Bliss, and Citizen Erased, but a couple of the tracks in the second half of the album could be worth skipping after a couple of listens to the album. Pretty damn good, but no masterpiece.

sleeper | 4/5 |


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