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ABSOLUTION

Muse

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horza
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars With this album Muse firmly establish themselves as major players in the music industry, and confirm what their fans knew, that they have the talent and the drive to be around for years to come. The 20 second intro leads into the piano pounding, opening of 'Apocalypse Please'. This track is amazing live and even in its studio form it has an energy and presence which makes it hard to believe that we are listening to a three- piece. Mathhew Bellamy on guitar, piano and vocals breathes life into this track and gives himself to the song totally. 'Time is Running Out' follows and is a builder, it has a Heep-like thread near the beginning (Heep fans might recognise it) but this is not to suggest they have obvious influences - their sound is uniquely their own and would be difficult to copy. 'Song for Absolution' comes next and is quite superb. It is probably the best song on the album and features heart-felt vocals and tight playing - the video accompanying this song is outstanding and you are advised to see it if you can. 'Hysteria' will probably be known to most people due to its MTV-airplay and it is another well-written powerful song. It cannot be over-emphasized that this band has a BIG sound which belies the fact that we only have three players - ELP and Rush have had similar comments in the past and Muse now join them, in more ways than one. A welcome addition to the Prog Archives. This album has many other highlights, including 'Butterflies and Hurricanes' and 'Thoughts of a Dying Atheist' and will surely feature on many prog fans playlists.
Report this review (#57466)
Posted Tuesday, November 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
Certif1ed
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars You know, there are times when I want to give an LP masterpiece status even when the context tells me it's clearly not a masterpiece of prog rock. This tends to happen when an album grips me in the right way, and I simply enjoy it with tremendous enthusiasm every time I hear it, despite its obvious imperfections.

However, I approach Muse's Absolution as if I was going to be listening to a Prog Rock album and sadly, this is not even in the running for a Masterpiece of Prog Rock award - it's proggy alright, but not proggy enough to compete with Genesis, Gentle Giant, VDGG et al.

In all fairness to Muse, while it's not a Prog Rock album, it is a complete masterpiece and a finely crafted and well thought-out concept, and I think it's just brilliant:

With Rich Costey of Philip Glass and TMV fame behind the knobs, Muse rise to a whole new level with "Absolution" - the riffs are bigger and crush more bones than ever before, the imperfections in the chord sequences are all but gone, Matt's voice sweeps Justin Hawkins away in lung-bursting, wine-glass shattering and spine-chillingly haunting style, Thom Yorke and Radiohead are all but forgotten, and the atmospherics are, er more atmospheric.

It's my habit to do a track-by-track analysis, so I won't do that this time, but simply dip in and pull out the interesting highlights...

The first of which is the introduction, and the second of which is the second track, a towering, apocalyptical colossus entitled "Apocalypse Please". "It's time we saw a miracle, come on, it's time for something Biblical". Stirring stuff indeed, and the music shifts beneath it, with huge power chords trading place with bubbling synths, beautiful quasi-classical dischords, delicate falsettos, pounding drums and crashing piano chords - if ever there was a piece written for the end of the world, this truly is it.

The next highlight is track 3. "Time is Running Out" may contain lyrics that whiff strongly of gouda, but the atmospherics in the quiet sections contrasting with the build ups to the massive choruses are textural genius and just seem to press all the right buttons. The range of guitar sounds that Bellamy uses is quite stunning - especially when you consider that this is not all studio trickery, and he does this live. What he also does live is that falsetto that makes your throat hurt in sympathy. OK, it's not a prog song, but its' gigantic anthemic splendour is surely something to admire.

Ye gods, the next highlight is "Sing For Absolution" - Muse may have produced some of the most beautiful ballads ever on their previous albums, but here they surpass themselves, with a melody of aching wistfulness, and haunting atmospherics. They also restrain themselves admirably on the first chorus, a feat which hightens the drama spectacularly. The only issue I have with it really is that it's very much in the tried and tested Muse formula, so seems somewhat familiar until it reaches the codetta, where Bellamy is at his most impassioned yet, and produces a fine tenor top C in natural as opposed to falsetto voce, with lush guitar counterpoint.

...and so it goes on. Another monster riff from hell kicks off "Stockholm Syndrome", which proceeds to grow and grow until another massive riff kicks in, redefining bombastic to it's core. This is where I run out of adjectives, and words like massive, gigantic and colossal don't seem quite enough to describe what's going on here - Muse don't play heavy metal, but the music is equally if not more intense than even some of the more intense metal bands - quite frightening in a way - and the piano arpeggios only serve to heighten the drama and power of this song. 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...

With their astute sense of drama and overall album shape, Muse take it right down for "Falling Away With You", a sensitive ballad style opening, leading to the predictable but very welcome and absorbing huge chorus. The textures are experimentally arpeggiated and highlight the sense of falling away very well in a musically onomatapaeic way. There are more achingly wistful melody lines backed with unusual atmospherics, that segue straight into "Interlude", a tension-builder par excellence, and then...

It might be overplayed on just about every UK radio station, but "Hysteria" simply has the king of all riffs to its credit. I said it's hard to imagine anything better after "Stockholm Syndrome", but this is it. A fairly unremarkable song by Muse's standards is framed and underscored by this perfect creation of riffdom, a riff so awesome that even if you listen to it quietly, your ears bleed. Even the obligatory truly awful guitar solo doesn't take anything away from this riff - you keep listening because you want more - you need more - you want it now... all together, air guitars at the ready...

"Butterflies and Hurricanes" is the next highlight, the soft intro not kidding you for one second - you know that a monster is on its way and, while it can't and doesn't try to compete with "Hysteria", the build-up over a minute and a half is simply masterful, and has that unmistakable prog vibe about it. I'll say it again: How the devil do three guys manage to make so much noise? Did Matt have personal tuition from Lemmy?

The drifting, shifting harmonic progressions are pure bliss, and the string and piano layers provide full pretensions to progginess - the silence dropping into the Rachmaninovian cascades around 3:30 is simply inspired - you'd think Emerson would start looking over his shoulder eversoslightly... Bellamy keeps up the piano backing through the next verse - although it's a bit far down in the mix for my liking.

"The Small Print" is another adrenaline-fuelled rocker with yet another riff that would make Godzilla feel like an ant about to be crushed. Bellamy gets enthusiastic with the textures - this is, after all, what he is best at, and why there are so few guitar solos on Muse's output; Who needs them when the textural development is this good? With obvious inspiration from Johnny Greenwood, Bellamy really has an authoritative style combining rhythm and texture with wonderful angular chords.

"Endlessly" suggests that Muse have been listening to the later Radiohead output, as the intro reminds me a little of the textures that the latter explore on "Kid A", and the textural build-up is gentle and flows well enough, but stands out as a marked contrast from the other material presented here. The change in percussion texture around 1:30 provides an amazing sense of space, and helps to rescue what is otherwise a very plain song by Muse's standards. Some of the textural experimentation is brought forward around 2:40, and brings a new focus to the song, but really, it's just on to the next one.

The problem with a song like Hysteria is that it's pretty much unfollowable, and you really have to stick with "Thoughts of a Dying Atheist" to get the most out of it - and it does have much to offer, despite a couple of harmonic progression issues towards the end of the chorus, especially. However, there is more tremendous energy here, and the lyrics are thought-provoking, if not profound; "It scares the hell out of me, the end is all I can see".

"Ruled by Secrecy" marks the 3rd album in a row out of 3 from Muse in which I feel unsatisfied with the ending. It starts to feel like a lot more of the same, with nothing really new to offer from the deep bag of Muse's trickery. It's worth sticking it out, though, as more Rachmaninov-inspired piano is forthcoming around 3:30, and from there to the end, the ride is very enjoyable (and prog related) indeed.

In summary, then, a slightly over-long album jam-packed with proggy goodies and musical highlights, with more drama per square inch than RADA, and more passion than Mills and Boon. If the word "Bombastic" turns you off, then look elsewhere for entertainment, otherwise, very much an album for everyone (even if you only ever listen to the first half), with some of the best riffing outside "proper" heavy metal - and some riffs that outclass even that. Oh, and a fair smattering of progginess.

Report this review (#57667)
Posted Thursday, November 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I believe that this album is ESSENTIAL, to anyone looking for a modern band with progressive tendencies. The only reason that it does not merit a five star rating, is that it's simply not progressive in the way that "Close to the Edge," or "Larks Tongues in Aspic," or "Foxtrot" are. However, you can hear the influences of many of the essential prog bands here, and in my opinion, this album...no, this BAND, is more progressive in spirit, than the majority of other new bands regaurded as prog.

This album is equal to it's predecessor Origin of Symmetry, however, it showcases a more experimental and more mature band. It serves as the best introduction to the band.

Every song on this album is played with passion and intensity. The songwriting is fantastic, and the musicianship, while not comparable to the likes of Yes, or King Crimson, is still of high quality. Matt Bellamy is perhaps the most powerful and most talented vocalist right now, and his guitar work is simple, but what he lacks in virtousity is more than made up in the sheer passion of his guitar playing. Chris Wolstenhome's distorted and agressive basslines are similiar in intensity to John Wetton, and add tremendous power to the overall sound. Dominic Howard's drums are interesting, and he shows that he is a fantastic drummer, but never takes the spotlight, similiar to Alan White of Yes.

The music is epic, and has the power to bring you to your knees. The piano arpeggio's remind the listener of Rick Wakemen or Tony Banks. However, the music has the heavyness of Bruford-Wetton-era King Crimson.

This album is recommended for any fan of rock, and it showcases the epic nature of prog rock, in a very concise and focused manner. Give it a chance. You'll probably like it, a lot. Standout tracks: "hysteria," "stockholm syndrome," "butterflies and hurricanes," but those are just a few. They're all incredible.

Report this review (#57709)
Posted Thursday, November 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars Well due to overpowering demand of the Pro-Muse lobby force that put the NRA (National Riffle Association - for the non-Americans see real patriot Michael Moore's amazing Bowling For Columbine film) to shame, Muse did finally get in our beloved Archives. I must say that while having a good notion of what Muse were about I had not really deepened my research since what I heard on radio seemed to be enough for me. Out of professional curiosity ten days ago, I went out to the library and rented the two albums I will review today. My original idea about them was that they were an intelligent alternative rock group (in their case I refuse the pop term or even Indie rock) that obviously listened to R.E.M. and The Levellers during their youth during the 80's and were actually taking pattern on Radiohead in the late 90's. Only excellent references you can see if you like that particular type of rock, but hardly groundbreaking at the turn of the century. But I would suggest those people downplaying the Radiohead similarity to wake up and re-listen to them.

While I am not a major fan of this type of rock, I always thought that Muse were maintaining with Radiohead the level of rock above the waters, but I hope not to raise the ire of fans by saying that their music is highly derivative of the afore- mentioned bands although they have moments on this album that are unusually metallic - the middle part of the title track and its follow-up Stockholm, that is almost Motorhead sounding if it was not for the typical vocals and later on Small Print. I can actually tell you my original impression was completely confirmed but I have actually listened to this album and the other over ten times hoping to fond what the big deal was to progheads. Some might argue that ten spins are not enough to get the substance out, but this old geezer with his almost 1500 reviews behind him, has enough experience to do so. So aside the infectious grooves, tight power chords, concise songwriting and an honest attitude, I found little to seriously make a proghead actually be heads over heels about such an album. Compared with previous album, I would say that there are two added dimensions: a Rachmaninov-styled piano (Rach is one of my fave classical composer) and Muse actually listened to a whole lotta Porcupine Tree before writing this album. These two new elements brought even more pressure on the PA citadel and an inquiry was set-up to see if the added vitamins were enough reinforcement to the usual Muse formula tracks for inclusion in the Archives, aside from the obvious PT influences.

"Well there is a very good prog group, Porcupine Tree!!!" I hear from the peanut gallery. "Yes, PT is a good prog group but they are already included in the Archives, but let's stay on topic: is this derivative album really worth the proghead's investment?" answers the lecturer to which dead silence is the only possible reply to such a pertinent question. Then a Muse-NRA lobbyists pulls out a Kalachnikov shoots the reviewer, the chairman of the board, the president of the SOPRHA (Safeguard Of Progressive Rock Honour Association) and the lecture-giver and yells "Mute" (not Muse) to the panicking crowd. Out come blaring from huge speakers and at unbearable volume this fairly good heavily guitar-fed rock for the next 500 hours. As the hostage crisis is obviously not getting resolved by the authorities outside as they call the army for snipers and special assault troops. But finally as the record had spun for the 473rd time, the deck rendered it laserhead at the end of their most intriguing (lyrically anyway) track on the album (Thoughts For A Dying Atheist) and the lobbyist was completely lobotomised as were the hostages, they all came out calmly but completely brainwashed yelling that Bellamy was the new prophet and started out to form yet another lobby to change the Muse Archives sub-genre to Avant/pop or even better RIA (Rock In Affirmation).

Did anybody say that reviews were made out to make sense? Well this one is supposed to! Let's not get over-excited with this neat and professional album (the artwork might just be worthy of Storm Thorgeson), with its share of highlights but also poorer moments. Unfortunately I would argue against them for being a little too focused (funnily enough I generally complain of the opposite) as most of the tracks are simply still too Muse-like formula and brings almost nothing new. I did enjoy the piano and hope to hear it more in future albums. In retrospect I am happy the Archives gave me the drive to review this group, but so far, none of their albums will join my collection! A worthy inclusion in the prog-related page, but hardly anything essential as far as the prog dimension is concerned!

Report this review (#58741)
Posted Thursday, December 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
el böthy
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars It´s weird for me to put 5 stars to an album that lacks the complexety that I find so amusing in prog...but whats right is right! This album deserves the whole 5 stars. Every song is excellent and what is even more important (what really makes a 5 album) is that they all work so good with each other.

What I find so great about this band is, first of all their Radiohead infuence ( another of my favorite bands), second how much emotion all the songs have and I dont mean that they are ballads...as a matter of fact there are no ballads in this record, but how Mathew Bellamy´s voice and music sound so perfectly raw that its honest...thats the word, honest...from the first time I heard Muse I noticed that the words and music of this band are honest...and thats something i really apreatiate in music!!!

My favorite songs must be "Apocalypse please", "Time is running out", "Stockholm syndrome", "Hysteria" and "Butterflys and hurricanes", but the rest of the songs are also great!

...Mike Portnoy was right...the best album form 2003!!!

Report this review (#62027)
Posted Wednesday, December 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
richardh
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Muse are not just a mere band, they are a phenomenon.A hard rocking trio lead by the lavishly talented Matthew Bellamy this is undoubtedly their greatest album to date.The first time I heard Absolution I literally lept around the room jumping on the settee and playing imaginary air guitar! They are as pompous and loud as anything around and inevitably have drawn comparison to that other famous trio Emerson,Lake And Palmer.Bellamy is every bit the showman like Emerson although he sticks mainly to lead guitar while Dominic Howard drives the music forward with all the ferocity of a young Carl Palmer.Simply breathatking at times this band are on the edge constantly but somehow always manage to hold it together.The songs are nicely varied with some quiet ones in amongst the carnage.The best songs though are the heavy ones.Just listen to Stockholm Syndrome as they crank it up a notch.The spirit of ELP in guitar form is well and truly alive!

5 stars and you better believe it!

Report this review (#62320)
Posted Friday, December 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I was bought this album for Chritmas and I thought "mmmmmm" well now I think GREAT!!! Its a brilliant album full of hard rock, prog rock and tender moments... I always thought Muse a failed Radiohead (who I think depress) but Noooooo this is great .. every song is a classic!!!

The Band are so tight and this is what excites ... you know that they are good!!!

I will now have to investigate the back catalogue and I invite all of you to do the same.

Highlights ... well all of it, the musicians are excellent and the singing great...

Report this review (#65008)
Posted Monday, January 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars . . .so I'm driving in the car last week and listening to WLIX, which is a new alternative rock station on Long Island in NY. I hear this track and it sounds somewhat familiar but I don't know what it is. They never annouced the songs on air at this station; since a Clash tune followed I figured I could go on line and see if they have a play list; this proved to be to no avail. I thought, "gee, what good is it playing new music if you don't tell people who it is." A week later I am sifting through the new reviews and there is Chriz' review of Absolution. I have this album, it was a gift and it has been siting in my CD collection for over a year. I figure I would give it another listen and I hear "Time is Running Out." This is the track I had heard on the radio, what a coincidence. I listened again and really like this album. I never listened to EMO, but I like a lot of the recordings from people who have been influenced by it and I would say that Muse has been. I love the fludity and passion of the songs. Definetly a great album. thanks Chriz!!!
Report this review (#65251)
Posted Tuesday, January 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album is an awesome example of how bands of today should sound: Muse are a really concetrate of a lot of influences : from classical music (the most evident one) to eye blinks to Radiohead, King Crimson and even Queen.... This album sounds EPIC in the purest meaning of the term, it conatins some of the powerful, drammatic, sad, songs I've ever heard. Excellent songs like "Apocalypse, Please" really evocates in the most theatrical way the last chapter of the holy book just think about this song's lyrics "It's time we saw a miracle, c'mon it's time for something biblical!". It's amazing seeing how a very talented band like Muse is, can be able to mix without problem furios songs like "Hysteria" and "Stockholm Syndrome", tracks that really rage divine wrath sounding like as an earthquake trough your own stereo to oniric, visionary moments like "Blackout", a Giuseppe Verdi influenced track, and the excellent "Ruled By Secrecy" the most unquietable song of all times....

This band is one of the greatest of our days, and many of other today's bands should reflect about this.

Report this review (#71338)
Posted Tuesday, March 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Absolution" is definately a must have for all rock fans not just progressive. I was first introduced to this band from my then-girlfriend and, although their ballads can be somewhat .. well boring sometimes, Bellamy still shines and sings his heart out on almost all the tracks on here.

An involved beginning leads into a track which lives up to it's name.. Apocalypse Now is one of the best songs on the album. This is followed by Time is Running Out.. A track which I personally can't help but dance around to. Other notable inclusions into the "Rules!!!" column are Stockholm Syndrome, Hysteria and Butterflies & Hurricanes, all of which go one step further in their rock elements to achieve their own sound setting them (IMO anyway) in a portion between Rock and Prog.

While there are some great tracks on here, some of the slower songs can get dull at times, but this by no means shows that Muse can't write a ballad. Falling Away With You has to be one of the best I have heard in a long time.

If you're into looking around for a kinda-proggy-but-not-really band then Muse's Absolution is definately my pick.

Report this review (#79982)
Posted Thursday, June 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Two reasons why I tried spinning this CD of Muse that has been in my son's collection: first, some people did mention that there was some influence of Muse style with Dream Theater "Octavarium" album and second, some prog sites reviewed this album as well. On first reason I think it's good that fans of both bands (Dream Theater and Muse) can introduce one another. Fans of Dream Theater would explore the music of Muse (Like what I do now) and fans of Muse would explore their music boundary to progressive metal scene - Dream Theater's music.

"Absolution" in my opinion is a good album by Muse. Musically, when I listened to this CD for the first time, I could only relate the band's style is in the vein of Radiohead and sometime U2 - even though it's not 100% correct. Look at the composition and singing style - it's quite tending to Radiohead. For me personally, enjoying this CD is like a retreat from having enjoyed other spectrum of prog music like symphonic, art, psychedelic or even krautrock.

Of course I cannot tell you the history of the band and who's who in the band as I'm just a newbie in Muse. But as any other prog band this album starts off with ambient short introduction (22 seconds) followed with "Apocalypse Please" with its floating style music that reminds me to Radiohead. Composition-wise, it's not as complex as symphonic prog music but it's good to comment that the band opens this album with nice song like this one. I enjoy the simple keyboard punch in the middle of the track.This song seems to be a popular track as many FM radios as well as local bands that covers this song. "Time Is Running Out" is another good track which is also popular in my country. I like the guitar fills and singing style.

Preceded by short "Interlude", it's fascinating to enjoy "Hysteria" which has good composition featuring a dragging vocal style - yes, similar with Radiohead singing style - combined with nice distorted guitar and effects plus keyboards. The ultimate enjoyment is the guitar solo portion during interlude which sounds simple but it's engaging the mind.

It's a good choice for a break. If you like Radiohead, you'd better give it a shot with this album. There is practically no bad track right here. All of them are good ones. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#82146)
Posted Wednesday, June 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
Melomaniac
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Bought this album yesterday on my friend's (also bandmate) advice and listened to it twice, and all I can say is Thank You to my good friend Richard. The fact that this band is listed in ProgArchives surprises me a bit, but when bands like Radiohead and Anathema make it onto this site, I should not surprised.

The only way I can describe their sound (for Absolution at least) is as follows : à la Radiohead (The Bends / OK Computer period) but with more guts, more rock, less psychedelic, a bit more straighforward and a bit less experimental. Compelling, to say the least.

Singer Bellamy sounds a lot like Radiohead's Thom Yorke, only better in my opinion. His melodies send shivers down my spine in every song, and he is really intense. His guitar and piano playing are inspired, and his songwriting skills have nothing to envy to anyone out there.

The rythm section, with Chris Wolstenholme on bass and back vocals and Dominic Howard on drums is a solid team, more on the reliable and creative side than on the technical side. They have good chemistry and are the perfect base upon which Matthew Bellamy can evolve.

They are the modern day proof that trios make more than excellent bands (Rush, The Police, The Tea Party, etc...). Undiluted, powerful, they sound as one.

Two spins don't allow me to call this album a masterpiece, but my breath was taken away by the intensity of this album. A few weeks more, and this album would have had five star rating, courtesy of little me.

Report this review (#83576)
Posted Wednesday, July 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Absolution" is not a perfect album. You can say it is a good album, but not as good as "Origin Of Symmetry" - I can urnestly say that it's not good as I expected. I'm not a big fan of Muse because I find it difficult to handle this amount of destructive electric guitars for the whole album. Although all those sayings I still think that Muse is special and has it's his uniqueness.

I met them for the first time when "Origin Of Symmetry" (their 2nd studio album) released, when their successful video, "New Born" was played endlessly and I was so impressed by their unique sound, the perfect coordination of the guitars, the emotional piano inserts, Matthew Bellamy's writing and singing skills, with the constant work on the synthesizer, and the elecro-influenced atmosphere.

Speaking about the past, there are some things that we should know about Muse: The band trio (Bellamy-Guitars/Vocals, Wolstenholme-Bass, Howard-Drums) has started to play way back in 1992, when they were 13 years old, under the title "Gothic Plague", later they changed it to "Muscle Museum" (which appeared in "Showbiz" as a song-name). "Showbiz" - their debut album, was half a tribute - half a copying from Radiohead. Matthew's voice, the piano accompaniment was very simiullar to Radiohead's work. When their 2nd album hit stores the compares between Muse & Radiohead was weakened, When "Absolution" changed the game totally. This album was Muse's graduation work, when they have started to build their own style.

Even though this album doesn't show most of the band's potential, we can still hear an eclectic and surprising music. Surprisingly, the non guitar tracks "Blackout" & "Falling Away With You" are the best and the most exciting tracks of the album (Even though, the electric guitars are known as the professionality of Muse - "Stockholm Syndrome" for example) It's no wonder that in the "Absolution" tour, more than 250,000 viewers have watched Muse throughout the world.

Even from the apocalyptic/paranoid/dark/or even radioheadic (?) Muse have wanted to seperate. In an interview before the album Bellamy have promised a new surprising album. But he didn't took one thing to consideration: the war. Bellamy: "We've started with an orchestra of 32 players and 98 singers... We recorded 2 songs and then we had regrets - we decided to start it all from the top and to lower the tone. The sound is more rough than I thought it would be, the world have changed in the recent year and we can't ignore it". And really some of the track-titles ("Hysteria","Apocalypse Please") can tell the way that we can't call opitmistic.

To conculde, I can say I really enjoy from this feeling whirlwind that Muse provides time after time because even if they sometimes miss, Muse can create music. But still most of the potential isn't fulfilled, at least not as I expected. 3.5/5 stars are enough.

Report this review (#84378)
Posted Friday, July 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars While it cannot pass as an essential album of prog music, it is, by all means, an excellent addition to a prog collection. It is representative for modern-day rock that tries to be something else than just guys blasting off riffs and who spend more time on their image than on their music.

I will not go into detail on every track as this is one masterfully crafted album that plainly shows fluidity and cohesiveness that make you wonder when did the album end does not belong only to the concept album zone. It's clever, it's not overdone, it's catchy [not your most proggy atribute, but trust me on this one] and really powerful. Most of all, it's floating with emotions.

All tracks are sure winners here and if you listen very carefully you will realize these guys can play and could do something a whole lot more experimental than this, they just chose not to. However, if I were to point out the strengths of this album they would be "Time Is Running Out", "Stockholm Syndrome" [has become one of my favourite songs and it's got a video that really gives me shivers every time i watch it], "Blackout", "Butterflies and Hurricanes" and "Thoughts of a Dying Atheist".

Clearly the proggiest of the Muse output, this is, again, not necesarilly a masterpiece of progressive music as it is still mainstream and far from what prog represents. But it's inovative, well written, well sung, well produced, and it only lasts as much as it's supposed to. So give it a listen, it just might work.

Report this review (#84831)
Posted Wednesday, July 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
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 ¾ 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?

Report this review (#86153)
Posted Tuesday, August 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars It is a great album. from the beginning to the end the "concept" is there. Absolution, Aphocalypse, the End of the World, Time is running out.You have to change the World.Hysteria. a Dying Atheist. How can anybody doubt about being a concept-album?

Apocalypse Please- A great intro. You know how this album is just listening to it. 8/10 Time is Running Out- Probably the best song in the album 10/10 Sing for Absolution- The main song 9/10 Stockholm Syndrome- A rocker - 8/10 Falling away with you- Sweet and tender- 9/10 Hysteria- One of the most well known singles 8/10 Blackout-8/10 Butterflies and Hurricanes- I have a special atraction to this song 9/10 The Small Print- Another rocker 8/10 endlessly-radiohead? 8/10 Thoughts of a dying atheist- 8/10

Report this review (#88252)
Posted Saturday, August 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars I do not understand why this music is even vaguely classified as progressive. At best it can be classified as alternative rock.

Some of the melodies, singing style and Matthew Bellamy's voice evoke unnecessary comparisons to Radiohead. Simply put, Muse is heavier, popish, less sophisticated version of Radiohead. In comparison to Radiohead their musical structures, melodic construction, lyrical content are below par.

Let me evoke an image to give you a sense of this album. A thin guy wearing a black shirt & suit and dark sun glasses is idly walking with his hands in his pockets in an empty downtown with shimmering sun up above, buried in dark green sky.

Now, series of thoughts on the album; - lacking in creating an emotional tension and subsequent release - Sticky, sickly sweet melodies that you cannot get out of your head three days after listening. - 10 years from now you will not listen to this album - Severely lacking in complexity and innovation - The song hysteria sounds like Franz Ferdinand - Not a bad album but you'll have to wait for the rare occasion where this will be a good fit to the mood

Put together the visual image provided, with the the points made and shake it three times and there you go. You have a good idea what listening to Muse's Absolution feels like.

Report this review (#89394)
Posted Sunday, September 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3.5 stars. First of all the album cover is brilliant.The music is a blend of Prog and Alternative music, with a definite reference to RADIOHEAD. I think it's the vocals really.The first time my daughter had me listen to this cd a couple of summers ago, I was reminded of Thom Yorke and RADIOHEAD right away, with the mournful and haunting vocals and the alternative sound.This is just more uptempo and energetic for the most part with a QUEEN vibe. The theme of this record seems to be death and the end of the world. Actually a young guy , I would say in his early twenties came in the store while this was playing, and he asked if I was listening to a cd, I said yeah, it's MUSE. He said who ? I said MUSE. Anyway, he stayed for about three songs and then asked for a piece of paper and a pen, so I gave him these and the cd, to write down the band's name and title of the disc. Another convert.

The first song "Intro" is twenty seconds of vocal samples that end with the piano pounding away and continuing into the next song "Apocalypse Please". The vocals on this song are excellent, and the melody is bombastic with the drums leading the way. "Time Is Running Out" is a song that opens quietly that builds to a full sound.The melody is catchy and again bombastic. The drums and vocals are the focus. "Sing For Absolution" opens with piano,light drums and reserved vocals that build. I like the way Matthew holds the notes as he sings. The guitar comes to the fore and is really good. A definite RADIOHEAD vibe to this song. "Stockholm Syndrome" really rocks out pretty good ! Great in your face guitar leads and pounding drums along with the Thom Yorke style vocals. This would be great to hear live. "Falling Away With You" really contrasts the mellow, beautiful acoustic passages with the full, heavy sounding passages quite well.

"Interlude" is about 30 seconds of distorted guitar sounds. "Hysteria" is an uptempo, catchy tune thats pretty good. "Blackout" is a mournful song with cello and some real Post Rock sounding guitar melodies. "Butterflies & Hurricanes" has a lot of tension in the intro, as if the band is having a hard time holding back. The drums signal a change of pace as they do let loose. "The Small Print" features some good piano and guitar. This is an energetic, emotional song that is a highlight for me. It's great ! "Endlessly" is reserved and melodic."Thoughts Of A Dying Athiest" is an uptempo and surprisingly fun song with amazing lyrics. "Ruled By Secrecy" opens with fragile vocals and piano, drums eventually come into this powerful song.

Clearly if your a fan of RADIOHEAD or Alternative rock, this is a must.

Report this review (#104985)
Posted Saturday, December 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
imoeng
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Absolution

Not a really progressive rock album, I suppose, but nonetheless it is a very cool album. I actually bought it around 3 years ago, but I haven't had any chance to talk about this album. Now it's the time.

Since this album is not a really progressive rock album, I reckon this is more of a "true-rock" album, maybe has a bit alternative aspect in it. With a quite proficient musical skills and well-composed songs, also cool sound effects. But for me, the best thing is the feeling everytime I listen to the album, which is very important. Honestly, this is a kind of albums which I like all the songs in it. As a comparison, as a hardcore Dream Theater fan, sometimes there is a song in an album which I don't like. However, different with Absolution, which all the songs are really cool. Again, not progressive metal songs, but they are very good songs, more mainstream actually.

My favourite song in the album is probably Sing For Absolution (track 4), which has a nice vocal and lyric. The song is more of an easy listening song than a metal song, but then again, I like it. An example of a song that needs a "quite" high technical skills is Stockholm Syndrome (track 5) and Hysteria (track 8). Both of these songs can be compared directly to Octavarium's Panic Attack from Dream Theater. That song has an intro like Stockholm Syndrome and a solo like Hysteria. Now think, if the song is similar to Dream Theater's, this album should be a cool album.

Bottom line, I should have given this album 4.5 stars, maybe 5 stars for a hard rock or alternative rock album. However because this is a progressive rock review, four stars can really exemplify the coolness of this album. Okay, time is running out.

Sing for absolution!- Imoeng

Report this review (#110360)
Posted Thursday, February 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Muse?? Part of the Nu-Prog movement??

I was always reluctant to get into Muse when I first heard them, it just didn't grow on me their music.

So I got a copy of "Absolution" expecting something very dull, WRONG how WRONG I was!!

I happen to like this album and it is not your ordinary alternative rock album either. Intelligent music, epic songs, Contemporary Prog and A breath of fresh air is what you get here!

These are the TRACKS that Personally stand out in my view:

Apocalypse Please The piano opener is beautiful and has a nice strong and rick sound, a semi-aggressive / soft ballad, and sounding very epic and can be compared to other newer geration prog groups, Matt Bellamy's piano skills is the star here. A Very addictive listen.

Time Is Running Out - I was uncomfortable with this at the start, but it grew on me, not really prog, but more or less your Alternative/Indie track, an aggressive short and sweet track.

Sing for Absolution - another epic ballad and the prog elements start to kick in, not the best track but a nice mellower track compared to "Time is Running Out" which I am also fond of.

Endlessly - nice percussion, again a soft track but this has alot of electronic treatments, most people here on PA may be aware I am a big fan of Electronic Prog : ) , Lots of sequenced synths which sound nice, with great percussion playing alongside, hardly any guitars here, weird organ effect sounds, an all round great semi-electronica offering from Muse. Thoughts of a Dying Atheist Scares the Hell Out of Me??, no way, the most catchiest track on the record, fast, simple, short and aggressive!! Proggers will HATE that description, not very prog, but not prog related either either, another favourite track, with nice melodies and rhythm guitars.

Absolution is a fine semi-Prog album, but for more Prog justice try the previous album "Origin of Symmetry". But if you're looking for something alternative and contemporary, look no further than "ABSOLUTION", not essential but a listen is a must.

PS: The three stars is mainly for the Prog point of view of the album and is not essential for Proggers, but worth a listen, however on a personal note, rather than a Prog point of view, a higher score will be awarded.

Report this review (#110800)
Posted Monday, February 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
OpethGuitarist
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Edgy music.

Absolution is the breakthrough album for Muse, one of the proggiest of prog-related bands on this website. While they may be a little too young at heart for their own good, they are a very entertaining band that puts on a show and knows how to compose. This album is a testament to that if nothing else.

If there is one complaint is that the music, despite having many energetic and interesting moments over the traditional alt. rock band is that it seems to be much too formulaic. Many of the songs have the same or similar qualities to them. I see a lot of comparisons to Radiohead, but possibly only in vocal style, as artistically they are two very different bands with vastly different approaches. For one, this band is much heavier and more rock driven whereas Radiohead relies more on electronica and experimentation (as can be evidenced by albums like Kid A and OK Computer).

That being said, Absolution is still a well done album and worthy of having, especially for those who may be looking to cross the bridge from rock to prog, they work wonderfully, as I have been able to get several friends of mine to enjoy Porcupine Tree because he had an interest in Muse.

Report this review (#117353)
Posted Wednesday, April 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#118734)
Posted Tuesday, April 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars I discovered Muse way before its inclusion on PA. So, no surprise for me when comes the time of this review. This ain't prog (but none of their work is). IMO, Muse is one of the most interesting rock bands of the moment (with Franz Ferdinand, Clap Your Hand , Placebo and Arcade Fire to cite a few). I go and see a reasonably high numbers of concerts year in, year out. When I go to watch true prog bands, the audience is almost my age (late forties) and usually the audience ranges from 300 (the majority) to 1500 (very rare) people.

When I went to see Muse for their "Absolution" tour, the concert hall in Brussels was packed (9,000) and sold out. I looked like a rarety in the hall. I could easily be the father of most of the audience. So, I 'm not quite sure that youngsters are keen to listen to "prog" bands nowadays and to me, there is no doubt about their "progness, even releated). Anyway, they are integrated in PA and since it is one of the bands I really appreciate (especially live) , I will not complain.

This album starts brilliantly with a great trio of songs. The title track with his dual tempo is extraordinary and very emotional, while "Time Is Running Out" is of course at the opposite : a wild and brilliant pop/rock song. The opening number (opening their show as well) was a great moment of the concert and is a very good choice to start this album.

"Stockholm Syndrome" is another fabulous song. A "noisy" intro but a very catchy melody. At times an incredible and extremely powerful riff will invade your loud speakers. Almost punkish as well. It is an incredible song : complex, violent, at times irritating, heavy. Muse in all its splendour. Another of my fave of this great album so far.

Just to cool down, Muse will prolonged the tradition of slow and peaceful tracks. They will usually be inserted after powerful ones. Exactly what happens here with "Falling Away With You". Almost acoustic at times, a pleasant chorus will rank this song into the good ones. And if you like heavy ones, do not worry. After a short and useless interlude : "Hysteria" is there. Another excellent number combining the strenghts of a traditional Muse song. Great drumming from Dominic in this all mighty song.

Another slow transition with "Blackout" and another attempt to "Unintended". Same exceptional emotional feeling, but a bit too mellowish. My least preferred song here, but I usually like their fast, bumping and fresh rocking songs more than the slow ones.

From the very first notes of "Butterflies And Hurricanes", you know immediately that a great moment is ahead. Another more complex song with some theme variations : mellow intro, strong rocking but very melodic middle-part, an opera-like piano and strings part (fully classical) and back to the opening. Very effective and so diversified.

Back the punkish sounds again, with "The Small Print". Another rhythmy (to say the least) track. But the exceptional melody again will turn this one into a very bearable song (but not for the average progheads, believe me). This album is bloody damned good. As usual, a slow one follows. "Endlessly" is almost childish. Same mood as for "Blackout" and same appreciation. Not too great.

I was a bit afraid that the same would happended like in their previous albums, meaning that they were a bit disappointing towards the last few tracks.

Fortunately, "Thoughts of a Dying Atheist" is far from being a filler. A wonderful melody as well and a "pogo" song at times (you know : "Pogo Dancing" : when goes up, must come down). Just great, I'm afraid. "Absolution" will close on a very slow tempo : "Ruled By Secrecy" is again on the mellow side of their repertoire, but a very nice piano part will come as a nice conclusion. This is by far my favorite Muse album. "Absolution" remains fantastic almost throughout all its lenght (only two weaker numbers). In terms of rating, it deserves more than four stars but not really fave. But since there (unfortunately) no other choice possible (so far ?), I will upgrade it to five star. A great almbum of rock music.

Report this review (#123811)
Posted Tuesday, May 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
russellk
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars How do three people make so much noise?

MUSE are here, I suspect, because of their sheer intensity and presence. They incorporate many of the sensibilities familiar to progressive music, but do so in bite-sized morsels often mistaken for pop songs. With few exceptions, they are not. They are well-crafted, spirited and above all passionate rock songs that ring every bell in the listener's mind. Big-scale sounds in small-scale packages. Anyone who objects to this exuberance is simply a curmudgeon.

'Absolution' is a fair step up from their previous two offerings. The album begins by tearing four new orifices in your psyche: the four-pronged attack of 'Apocalypse Please,' 'Time Is Running Out', 'Sing For Absolution' and 'Stockholm Syndrome' is one of the most potent slabs of music you'll come across in popular culture. To my mind, these opening twenty minutes are packed with more innovation, cleverness and sheer musical glee than THE BEATLES ever managed.

'Apocalypse Please' thunders in with a cataclysmic piano line, a seismic shock. This is the end? Already? I know what MATTHEW BELLAMY means: we're not in for an easy ride here. He calls for a miracle, and he's delivering it in crashing chords and swirling synths, rock painted passionate progressive in a way that few of the inheritors of the progressive label can equal. I already have my money's worth.

'Time Is Running Out', you betcha, and the music communicates MUSE's sense of urgency - and, finally, the guitar arrives. Such teasers. They're maturing, not firing all their guns at once, letting a song build naturally. This song is a splendid number. BELLAMY has a wonderful falsetto, which fills the sonic gap normally occupied by a lead guitar. Then the song runs out and the extraordinarily beautiful 'Sing For Absolution' begins. This is BELLAMY at his lyrical and vocal peak. The track builds into a masterpiece, and the vocals are sheer genius. Not that he has a great voice - far from it. But rock music works best when the voice isn't sweet: there's plenty of roughness in the delivery, including the ubiquitous gasp for breath, and a sharpness to his notes that adds an edge to the music.

Can they produce a fourth memorable track in a row? 'Stockholm Syndrome' is the best of them all, a fierce behemoth with a monster riff and wonderful rhythm. What a hook in the chorus! And they lead us magnificently through the song using every trick in modern music's vast lexicon.

The album inevitably falls away a little from here, a result of MUSE front-loading their albums. It falls away literally with the next track, as MUSE realise they need to give us time to recover, to catch our breath before the next sonic assault. 'Hysteria' is that assault, with a staggering riff as gorgeous and epic as you've ever heard, and another hook chorus. And there's still 'Butterflies', 'Endlessly' and 'Thoughts of a Dying Atheist' to come. There are a few below-par tracks, but that's almost inconsequential. It all sounds a little 'samey' on first listen, because BELLAMY's voice is front and centre, but give the album a few listens - each track's personality will emerge.

In a word, epic.

Report this review (#142458)
Posted Saturday, October 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars I first heard Muse from back in my DT fanboy days. while browsing some DT news on their site i stumbled across a quote from Mike Portney in which he stated that Absolution was his favorite album of the last DECADE. well i could only claim ownership of 3 prog cd's at that point, all of them belonging to Dream Theater,and i desperately wanted to branch out. This band from england seemed like a logical next step to me. so i bought it not knowing what to expect, popped it into my CD player, and wow. what a ride. I have owned this cd for quite a long while now and where at times i find myself wearing an album thin, this one has remained a constant in my circulation, tho now done via iPod rather than cd player. and now to the music

i absolutely adore the opener (intro included). its the heaviest piano/synth song i have ever listened to, completely devoid of guitar. Bellamy's vocals are top notch (and on this disc, a coming of age story for the singer as he no longer sounds like Thom York, he sounds like Matthew Bellamy) i love the bass and synth breakdowns. Its just a thounderous track that paints a scene of paranoia and beauty. This is the end of the WORLD!!!

Time is Running Out is more straight forward and catchy, complete with bombastic muse guitar styling and a tasty bass lick. i really like this one. Sing for Absolution is another wonderful piano song, this time soft and fragile. Muse creates a nice spacey atmosphere with this song which flows into the heavy-

Stockholm syndrome. what a riff. Bombastic muse at their best. keyboards and piano soar above the driving bass and chugging guitar and desperate vocals. an absolute standout track. the original (and better) verson of panic attack ; ) falling away with you is yet another simple, more quite song, slightly sub par based on the four monstrous opening tracks but still good, flighty keyboard textures simple guitar big chorus. this fades into Interlude, a 30 second fuzz of guitar that i kinda like. the next track is another absolute monster.

Hysteria. Muse can sure write one heck of a riff. one of the most memorable bass ive heard. I love the faint piano throughout which is masked by the sheer power of the guitar, bass, and drum. its hard to believe three guys can put out such volume and presence. this is very "Thick" music. layered, (nods to devin townsend) , there is simply a lot going on all the time, even in the quit moments.

Blackout is one such song. Orchestral playing layered atop a smooth beat and simple guitar. I LOVE this song. it is just too beautiful to ignore, the slow, winding buildup to a paranoid outburst of desperation. only this time the vocals sound more like the old bellamy which sounded disturbingly similar to another British singer. . .

Butterflies and Hurricanes is, as the title suggests, a song full of contrast. this is the first song in which the structure differs noticeably from the rest of the disc. it is piano driven, but also utillizes the strings of blackout and the thumping base of time is running out. its a fairly upbeat song, which includes the baroque inpired piano string attack that occurs halfway through the song, im very impressed with Bellamy's playing here, it was deffinately unexpected but more than welcomed. the graceful arpeggios simply soar. this was one of my immediate favorites. the break from the piano bridge/breakdown to the chorus is far too choppy tho and my only problem with this song.

The small Print is a good old fashion muse rocker Big, driving, and you guessed it, bombastic. Good song, but nothing special.

I really ike Endlessly. its just has that groove to it that just doesnt allow my head to remain still. great keyboards throughout this song, soft, subtle, graceful, building, while muse continues to layer and layer as the song progresses, i know its nothing extraordinary, its no epic, its no technical marvel, but it works. it is catchy, rich, and full of lovely melodies. great song.

Thoughts of a dying Athiest is another song that starts to sound like another small print ie. good but nothing special. untill the chorus. I dont know whether its becase he sounds so much like Thom York or if they are just both uniquely gifted but Matthew Bellamy can pack on the fear, the anxiety, the desperation better than anyone (since York) The chorus is what makes this song, other than that its a straightforward, unmemorable song, but when it kicks in and bellamy shudders out "It scares the hell out of me. . . ." the song clicks. it holds its own.

Ruled by Secrecy is another desparate vocal showcase, quietly and hauntingly beautiful with the soft piano and quiet drums. great ending. albeit a bit sudden. I have since used this song in roughly 4 short films that i have done that deal with themes of paranoia/otherworldliness and this song fits perfectly.

All in all a completely rewarding and wonderful album, one of the best i have heard in a while from the modern music scene. its not essential, but i believe it to be an excellent addition to ANY prog head's collection. 4 stars and a thank you to mike portney 4 years in the making. highly recommended, especially to those unfamiliar with prog as a genre.

Report this review (#148105)
Posted Monday, October 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Muse-Absolution.

I have been listening to Muse ever since the release of Origin of Symmetry, however, Absolution was the first Muse album I fully listened to and also the album that got me Hooked up on their music. This is my first review of the album, I have listened to it countless times.

Absolution for many is Muse's breakthrough album, featuring a concept-like feeling with innovative themes revolving around the end of the world, politics and love. The album is distributed in 11 songs with 2 interludes, the Japanese version features the bonus track Fury and the album featured various singles which featured music videos.

1.Intro The first track of Absolution is a segment of marching steps, increasing dynamically as if an army was increasing in number and getting nearer to the listener. There is a small voice segment, similar to Hitler's voice, yelling the infamous Hail speech. The track is the intro to the theme of the whole album and prepares the listener for the upcoming tracks.

2. Apocalypse Please The marching is covered by drums, the music increases progressively into forming an atmosphere, this is well done by the chords Matt Bellamy uses along with the rhythm of Dominic's drum tempo. The lyrics are rather mellow, and they go from low registers to increasingly falsetto cries. Matt Bellamy's theme in the lyrics is The end of the world! this is it! The lyrics depict politicians betrayal to society and involves religious and social themes. This song is very well remarked for the guitar/bass interludes between verses. The bass is distorted and uses technical progressions to create an electric effect. The song slows down near the end a bit, with intense piano chords. a 5 out of 5.

3. Time is Running Out Probably the best known track of the album. Let's start with the bass, Chris Wolstenholme uses a lot of distortion in this song, the bass line is the shining star int his song, very catchy with a touch of blues, the bass line is a must for any muse fan to learn. Then there is the guitars, the small solos and effects change quite a lot in this song, from marimba effects to reverb solos. The percussion is rather simple but some very good use of the tom drums and crash symbols, if you notice, they change from chorus to chorus, in addition to that, there is a snap effect in the bridges. The lyrics are all politically-oriented, Bellamy expresses his determination for not giving up even when time is running out and the earth is on the verge of destruction. Bellamy's most notable part in this song is his ascending vocals to his high register, going from his normal register to high falsetto. Incredible song, yet a bit overplayed, a 5/5

4.Sing for Absolution Probably one of the most underrated Muse songs of all time, this is a masterpiece in experimental piano music. Let's start with the theme: Love. This is a love song in all regards, a very gloomy song by the way, Bellamy uses a the full power of his mellow-tone voice to express the feelings of the character. This is all well supported by the Piano and bass chords, that progress into the song, forming a type of Progressive ballad. However, the percussion used here is very simple, the rhythms don't change much. The most amazing thing of this song is the value of the 3-front band, there are so many effects on bass, piano and guitar that is kind of hard to believe only 3 people play this song; Bellamy changes from piano to guitar between verse and bridges, and uses a bunch of space-like effects on the solo. a 5/5.

5. Stockholm Syndrome The tone of the album changes quite a bit, this is muse using more progressive techniques. The chords are simple, yet they are arranged in a very powerful way. The combination of guitar bass and drums works splendid to create the effect of musical madness. The lyrical content is very heavy and features a nice back-up by bassist Chris Wolstenholme. The song features a nice use of synths during the chorus, (done by Bellamy as well). A full set of effects is the highlight of the song, is kind ahard to believe how many effects they can use and effectively as well. 5/5

5. Falling Away with You An acoustic song by Bellamy and co. Falling Away with you is the most personal song by vocalist Matt Bellamy, it has NEVER been performed live due to the personal effect of the song. It is a tragic love song, the amazing thing of this song is how the instrumentation comes together to form a sense of personal tragedy. Theme and concept makes this song very proggy as well as the chord progressions by bass and synths. 4/5

6. Interlude An effect interlude, that's it....it intros the song Hysteria

7. Hysteria Also Known as Distorted Bass Masterpiece.Hysteria is one of Muse's best, everything about this song, from the bass line to the guitar makes it truly a standout. Chris Wolstenholme is simply amazing creating this one-of-a-kind progressive bass line, this song truly reveals some of Muse's influences: Rush. Bellamy's solos are incredible as well, taking full advantage of the Mason's effects (Mason is the brand of guitar Bellamy uses) The theme of this song, well, simple: Sex. The song revolves around the struggles of someone lustful and greedy. What else can one say about this song? Not much really, you have to listen for yourself to understand the song. 5/5

8. Blackout Turn the lights out, it is Blackout. One of Muse's more classically-inclined songs. It uses a string orchestra and acoustic guitar, the songs' theme is that of Love in the Modern Age Musically speaking, it is a ballad-like song, very jazzy, very classical, very mellow....it is a pleasure to listen, specially at night, it is one of those songs that make you feel relaxed. The chords used is one of the reasons, and slow beats...around 80 bpm. 4/5

9. Butterflies and Hurricanes Behold, this is a progressive-classical masterpiece by Muse. First, the theme: War, determination, confidence and the end of the world. Second: Bellamy's lyrics, they are simply incredible, full of dynamic changes that build-up and break down. Third: The musical value of this number, from the back-up vocals to the string quintet used, the song simply uses the full value of the instrumentation which includes: A violin, viola, bass, piano, chello, guita, and synths. Fourth: The Piano solo..........simply AMAZING! listening to it, once can hear Bellamy's classical influences, a fully beautiful fast classical solo with string accompaniment. IT is a MUST for any pianist. And finally, well, the song is simply a work of art which makes it my pick as best song of the album.

10. The Small Print A Fast moving song! The mood changes once again with this religiously-themed song. Progressing chords and minor rhythm changes make this tune a heavy one....very heavy actually...Musically speaking it is a standard song with progressive tendencies. 4/5

11. Endlessly Back to the mellow-side of music. An awkward percussion intro starts this Piano melody. The sons is an experimental prog tune which incorporates Synthesized Piano with a handful of effects. If you listen closely you can pick out the various effects the song uses. Chris Wolstenholme plays the maracas in the first couple of bars of the song then changes to bass in the final minute. A String quintet also provides some nice chords. The theme is very depressive however, it relates to the lost of someone loved. Overall a nice tune with many experimental techniques.

12. Thoughts of A Dying Atheist The song can be characterized by its nice use of Prog-related chords. The theme and concept is that of the fear of death, the story revolves as our character faces the end of his life; where he feels uncertain of his future. A nice tune that provides an arrangement of Vocals, Rhythms, Bass and Guitars.

13. Ruled By Secrecy Based on a book by Jim Maars ( A Book based on conspiracy theories) Ruled By Secrecy is a piano tune filled with the well-known minor chords of Bellamy. A very slow song, but with a very nice piano part....where Bellamy shines as a piano virtuoso, worth listening to the very powerful small Piano solo that features some chord progressions.

Overall the album is very well made, If there is one Essential album to pick from Muse's collection, Absolution is a must. A Very nice mix of experimental-progressive rock, each song has somehthing in common yet differs in many ways. The theme is the key, I do believe this is a concept album in its own, the way the album flows is phonomenal. Truly a work of art! If you have not listened to Muse yet, get yourself a copy of Absolution or tell a friend to burn one for you is a nice way to start in Muse's discography.

Report this review (#160106)
Posted Monday, January 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars In fact, Muse is not a progressive rock band. I consider this fantastic young trio to be a great modern rock band. I saw them live last year and was impressed deeply. They are absolutely stunning live and every rock band should envy them and take them as an example of a strong rock group. Muse plays rock of high-quality, combining 70’s rock sound with modern rock tendencies (and adding a blend of prog in some songs).

Absolution starts off by Intro, which contains only some clapping. Then it grows into Apocalypse Please (9/10), a strong song, which starts with powerful piano chords, then all that turns to keyboard interlude and then gets back. Time Is Running Out (8.5/10) is a bit of a pop song, but I like the song overall, especially Matthew’s guitar work and strong chorus. Sing For Absolution (9.5/10) is a great ballad with heartfelt vocals and a thrilling final. And then it all begins – Stockholm Syndrome (10/10) shakes from the first heavy riff, then it turns to powerful verses and beautiful piano chorus – and the songs finishes with a prog-metal riff, which reminds me of Never Enough (from Octavarium, 2005) by Dream Theater (Yeap, I think Dream Theater of nowadays stole “Muse-formula” and paste it into some of their songs, including Never Enough) :-) Falling Away With You (8/10) is a much more silent song with beautiful keyboards. Interlude is just a short break before Hysteria (10/10) – which begins with a catching bass riff, then great guitars follow, then powerful chorus, then a guitar solo… in short, this song is very energetic and really hysterical and, in fact, is my favourite track from Absolution. Blackout (7.5/10) is my least favourite song, but it contains nice guitars and symphonic atmospheres. Butterflies And Hurricanes (9.5/10), I think, is even proggy in the middle – nice riffs and keyboards (but live version was even better and a bit longer). I like Tsp (9.5/10) for its unlimited energy, though the song is quite simple. Endlessly (8/10) is just a nice mellow song with nothing special. Thoughts Of A Dying Atheist (8.5/10) is a good song with sad mood. Ruled By Secrecy (9/10) is a very appropriate ending of the album – a slow, leisured and mysterious final.

Absolution is an excellent rock album from cover to cover and one of the best Muse efforts to date. A supply of energy is guaranteed.

Report this review (#160583)
Posted Saturday, February 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Definitely Muse's best studio album. They mix a batch of good songs into a enjoyable concept album (or possibly psuedo-concept more accurately). This album firmly plants Muse into the realm of good Prog (or Prog-related) players, making them stand out as someone to look at, not just a Radiohead clone.

Bellamy really starts to use his voice well in this album. He has so much talent, and now it's really starting to show. His voice captures the despairing and critical moods that define most of these songs, and then twists them into a true pleasure.

Track 1: Intro:

Well.... It's just an intro. 22 seconds of foot stomping. Pretty good idea. Not a lot to say here.

Track 2: Apocalypse Please:

This is what Intro leads into, seamlessly. It starts off with heavy piano chords, and never lets the apocalyptic mood drop. Quite a good way to start an album.

Track 3: Time Is Running Out:

Starts off with one of the catchiest distorted baselines I've seen. It has an open-ended kind of mysterious rock feel to it. When you get to the chorus the guitar opens up with the bass into a full jamming alternative chorus sound, only the good kind of alternative. Another hit for the album.

Track 4: Sing for Absolution:

Opens up with a cool slightly reverb, slightly gain-y piano riff. Slow and melodical, this song takes it's time and knows it. Much of it really has the full Muse sound, right through the good guitar solo smack dab in the middle. Te chorus picks up a bit, but not so much as to kill any of the mood or atmosphere. Not a bad tune.

Track 5: Stockholm Syndrome:

This song's opening riff beats Time is Running Out, and then backs it up all the way through the track. It's a pretty brilliant song in almost every way. The keyboard overlays, the in-control metal-ish guitar riffs, the good use of the half-open high hat, it all blends to form a song of nearly epic proportions, all in just five minutes. Great song!

Track 6: Falling Away With You:

This song takes you from the upbeat extreme of Stockholm Syndrome all the way dive-bomb into a soft almost acoustic quasi-ballad. It has a very mellow tone, and soft flowing lyrics. And right when you fall into its soft trap.... Bam! The chorus hit's you! Like a rock to the face. It opens up really far and then comes almost all the way back to super quiet, but more driving. It's contrasts quite a few times like this during the song. Not bad at all.

Track 7: Interlude:

It's just an interlude. It's adds to the ambiance with super distortion. 30 seconds, that's it.

Track 8: Hysteria:

Muse once again shines with their baseline writing skills. This opening riff matches Stockholm Syndrome's in excellence. But this one doesn't contrast like the Syndrome, it just drives to the end. It's a real kicker to the second half of the album. It's pretty good.

Track 9: Blackout:

Again with the slow, Muse really messes with that song contrast in this album. It starts off with a string arpeggio, full ensemble sound. then the clean tremolo guitar comes in.... Then the uber-fuzz guitar wipes everything else out, except for the singing... And the strings.... It's one of the weaker tracks, but not by any means bad.

Track 10: Butterflies and Hurricanes:

The mysterious sweeping sensation. Probably the best song on the cd in it's own distinct merit. It has a mellow entrancing baseline to start, simple medium-range octave tapping, that gets layered on with synth effects and vocal lines (harmonies included). What set's it apart is the middle section of the song. A very impressive classical piano solo. It is completely without warning (save the 1.5 minutes of piano buildup), or at least for the intensity of it. It really adds a respectable air to the song, and album for that matter. Quite impressive.

Track 11: The Small Print:

Okay intro riff. Okay song. Not bad, but nothing special either. Almost a letdown after Butterflies and Hurricanes, but a decent enough song.

Track 12: Endlessly:

Again with the nothing special category. Not nothing special as in sucks, nothing special as in compared to what else is in the album. It's still a pretty good song, overall.

Track 13: Thoughts of a Dying Atheist:

This one is a step up from the last two, but still not back up all the way to the level of the first half of the album. This one has a descending guitar arpeggio to start it off, which is fine enough. But the chorus brings it up a bit. The chorus line is It scares the hell out of me, and Bellamy makes it ring, truly. This song is pretty good.

Track 14: Ruled By Secrecy:

A melancholy cryptic sounding song to end the album with. It starts slow, and just keeps building. It's not the greatest of all ends to an album, but it's not the worst I've heard, not by far. I rather like it actually, it flows nicely.

Even though the end of the album lets up a bit, it is a great album. It proves that Muse has skills, no doubt there.

Report this review (#161718)
Posted Wednesday, February 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is the END of the WORLD

Muse are certainly some of the most bombastic performers today, and this album is where that pomp propelling their music really starts kicking in. Muse are masters of turning a song in to an anthem, which they do quite often on this album. Seen them pull off this level of energy live is truly a spectacle to behold, and they manage to do it in the studio and out. This album shows a band taking typical song structures and forming a new sort of style, one with more epicness, for lack of a better term. Also, Matt Bellamy is a truly underrated guitarist. He truly shows off a diverse range of styles and remains impressive. This album has something for everyone, from the exciting, riff-based powerhouse of fury that is Stockholm Syndrome to the hauntingly beautiful, Butterflies and Hurricanes. Equally grandiose to the music are the lyrics. The central theme seems to be the apocalypse which is tackled in a very impassioned and terrific manner. This band plays so well and write so well together, I find it surprising that there are only three members.

Another thing that I really like about this album, and Muse in general is how well they fuse progressive influences in to other genres, such as brit-pop and arena rock. This album is most likely their creative peak (although I strongly prefer Origin of Symmetry). If you are someone who wants to try something with an energetic, bombastic crunch while not sacrificing the musicianship and dedication of progressive music, this album should be amongst your priorities to hear in the near future.

Report this review (#162128)
Posted Monday, February 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars What is wrong with Muse fans? When the Showbiz was a great start from one of the most original alternative rock bands in the 21st century, and Origin Of Symmetry was a succesfull followup for the classic, Absolution is one of the most over rated albums i have come a cross of. The album starts beatiflully with songs like the ok Apocalypse Please, and Time Is Running Out, and after that Sing For Absolution witch is the first real highlight of the record. But there is too much that you just couldnt care less about. I have heard the album dozens of times and half of the songs dont ring a bell in my head.

When Muse is at its best Bellamy can give out some of the most inspiring guitar melodies i have heard. When he is at his worst the songs seem to drag a lot. Not even the great bass lines of Chris Wolstenholme cant save most of the songs on the album. Suprisingly the basslines are more innovative then anything that Bellamy can bring to the table on this record.

The highlight of the album comes right in the midle of it. And many Muse fans would agree. Its Hysteria.

Actually on a record thats this average finding songs like that seams really odd. After that there really isnt that much to look forward to. But as a fellow Muse fan you will, and be disapointed.

This record dosnt come even close to Showbiz and pales in comparison even to Origin Of Smmetry. As a fan i can take something out of the record that some other people wouldnt but still its way too average record in Muses recording history... *sigh*

Intensity of Bellamys vocals are undeniable. Mostly on Sing For Absolution and Hysteria but still good work from Matthew. And one member that even i havent payed enough atention to. Dominic Howard. A great drummer with a sence of drama in the drumming.

If you are not a fan of Muse. Start to lissen Muse from a totaly different album then this.

Report this review (#163111)
Posted Monday, March 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars "This is the end.."

The second album I've owned of Muse is also my favourit. The other album I own is 'Black Holes and Revelations' which, I'll admit, has better individual songs then 'Absolution', but the overall enjoyment I get from 'Absolution' far outweighs the enjoyment from 'Black Holes'.

'Absolution' is a rare album, where you can put it on and each song is just as good as the last. The fact that I don't feel the need to skip any song on this album is enough for it to be awarded four stars, but I can't give it any more then that, simply because there doesn't seem to be that 'masterpiece' feel to it. I suppose that's due to it being too heavily influenced by popular culture, or that it's just not progressive enough. But in saying that, I can't stop listening to this album.

There are obvious strong points, and not so strong points on the album, but it never seems to dip below good. The album starts off with a bang with 'Apocalypse Please' (well, it opens up with into, which sets the song up), which I'll admit took me by surprise. The choirs (if it can be called that) almost feels 'spacey', which is such a great contrast to the hard pounding opining. It's this contrast between hard pounding rock and soothing deep emotional feeling that makes this album so enjoyable.

Anther song that does this even better is 'Stockholm Syndrome', which is one of my favourit songs on the album. The contrast between the hard rock guitar just before entering each choirs creates much more of an impact than if they had just gone straight into the choirs. The drifting feeling they create in the choirs is very well done, very similar to 'Sing for Absolution' the previous song, which is another high point on the album.

The balance between the deep emotional feelings and hard rock is also seen song to song, which balances out the album very nicely. This makes it much more enjoyable to listen to since I'm not finding myself exhausted by the hard rock section of the album, nor am I board of the slower powerful songs. Just from 'Falling away with you' to 'Hysteria' and back to 'Blackout', there is a complete 180 degree turn with musical technique between these three songs, and yet they flow seamlessly between one and the other.

The weaker points in the album are found on the tracks 'Time is running out' 'The Small Print' and 'Thought's of a dieing Atheist'. Luckily, these songs are still very enjoyable to listen to, but they just don't seem to have the pazhas the other songs present, and they sounds quite similar. I love the concept of the song 'Thought's of a Dieing Atheist', but the music just seems to be of less quality.

My favourit song of the album is the last song: 'Ruled by Secrecy' which embodies the deep, slower, powerful songs. The atmosphere created by this song is one that I've only ever heard when listening to Beethoven's 'Moonlight Sonata, first movement'; that is a rare thing to find. And not only that, but it grows and develops through the song, creating one of the most powerful songs I've heard. Although after listening to it for a number of times, it starts to lose a bit of luster, but not enough to keep me away from it.

So, as noted before, this album gets a four star rating from me. I wouldn't label this album, or the band, as progressive, and I wouldn't say this album is a great addition to any progressive collection. I'd say this album is a great album for any musical collection. Although I'll add that perhaps they could be a little bit more..happy?....on albums to come.

"Change in the air.."

Report this review (#182857)
Posted Friday, September 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
4 stars The trio of melodic prog excel with this album - one of their best.

The first thing I noticed listening to this album was the crystal clear clarity of each track, beautifully produced and the band play with musical virtuosity. I discovered most of the songs on the DVD release so was quite used to the way most of these tracks were played live. The music on the studio release here is more subdued yet has heavy aspects.The songwriting is written with expertise and there are classical rock influences, and a similar style of vocal performance in fact to early Radiohead in most respects. Matt Bellamy is the driving force of the album and belts out one track after another with huge vocal ranges in a similar style to Radiohead's Thom Yorke.

Each track is different in thematic content and all feature strong melodies and a consistent high standard of structure. The atmosphere of the album is remarkable, like nothing else I have heard.

The vocal arrangements at times feel like ELO or Queen and they are major influences to their style of music. Other influences are the classical composers Rachmaninoff, Chopin or even a touch of Puccini. Muse create a huge wall of sound consisting of loud clashing guitars, keyboards and drums with a punding bass line throughout.

Highlights include Time Is Running Out, Sing for Absolution, Stockholm Syndrome, Hysteria, Blackout and Ruled by Secrecy.

If you have heard of this band and did not know where to start, Absolution is a definite starting point encompassing all that is great about Muse.

Report this review (#188057)
Posted Wednesday, November 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 'Absolution' - Muse (6/10)

'Absolution' is a work of two faces. The first 8 songs (which i would count as being the first half) are fantastic, and flow very well. Musically, theres great songwriting, great performances and an epic quality that is rarely found in alternative rock. The rest of it however is mediocre (albeit listenable) material that really seems to kill the album's overall sense of body and completion.

There are parts here that do not sound like a band of only three musicians. Muse have a way of magically turning a 3-piece into the sonic equivalent of a rock orchestra, and giving a strength and bite to their music.

Is this band going to meet constant criticism from prog fans? Unfortunately, yes. They are very alternative rock based, which many could consider a far cry from actually being prog. While theres definately a feeling that Muse are never going to be full-out prog, they incorperate prog music into a more accessible songwriting style that is definately enjoyable, although the band tends to flow in a very depressing direction in terms of their musical style and feeling.

'Absolution' is not the greatest Muse has ever made, or will ever make. However, it, like many things in life, is but an evolution; a development and transmutation. I have my hopes up that someday this talented band will make an 'Abolution II' of sorts that will carry the same level of quality from the first side and keep that going throughout the entire product... Until then, we have a fatally flawed masterpiece.

Report this review (#206760)
Posted Thursday, March 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Absolution was recommended to me by a friend on the premise that I was (and still am) a RADIOHEAD fan. I knew nothing about the MUSE at the time and listened to the disk several times in different situations and over an extended period of time.

At first, I was of course more than stunned by the overwhelming similarity with RADIOHEAD, which was not only in terms of vocal expression of the singer M. Bellamy, but also in the composition and stylistic practice (gentle, sweeping and melancholic, chamber pop balladry Vs. noisy guitar-driven and electronically empowered speedy rockers). Later, I became even much less impressed. Although I can hardly point to any obvious error or weakness - the technical side of the album is perfectly played and produced, even the songwriting is decent and written "by the book" - I cannot help but feel that a large portion of its obvious popularity lies in its following the beaten path of "OK Computer" and later RADIOHEAD efforts.

It is fairly listenable, decent copycat of RADIOHEAD with certain post-Brit-pop mainstream leanings, but the music that offers me nothing new that I already had not heard.

PERSONAL RATING: 3/5

P.A. RATING: 3/5

Report this review (#230567)
Posted Saturday, August 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ok, this album seems too perfect. It reminds me of one of these albums that were not even created. You couldn't even imagine anybody in the studio playing or creating these songs. They seem almost biblical, they have always been here.

Yes, this is definelty the album were Muse found their sound. Origin's was a very raw sounding album, with songs that were creative and expanded while being experimental throughout. This album saw amazingly crafted pieces of music, or since they were shorter than they were in that later, songs. This album expresses alot of emotion and is probabbly their most successful and best album to date. Their isn't a bad song on it. In short.

1. Intro - A bunch of feet marching. This isn't the most ambigous start to an album, but it does raise the attention of the listener.

2. Apocalypse Please - Yes, this really does sum up an apocalyptic feel. With the marching piano riffs and the clashing od percussion, this sends chills up my spine everytime i hear it. Well crafted and amazingly presented vocal harmonies throughout, along with more arrpeggios from synths. A great start to the album.

3. Time Is Running Out - There isn't much I can say about this song. This song actually got me into Muse. They have always been able to write an amazing pop song, but with adding their own weird elements to the arrangement. Very cathcy and Matt shows off some powerfull vocals.

4. Sing For Absolution - Eerie and haunting, with weird piano riffs to lighten the mood. The one thing that attracted me to this song, was the incredibly extraordinary music video. Watch it if you can.

5. Stockholme Syndrome - A rocking riff that reminds me of The Smashing Pumpkins on speed. The chorus is absoultely amazing, pedal point after pedal point with synths, guitars and piano grabbing the attention of the listener. The video for this song I didn't like. I didnt think it summed up this amazing song as Sing For Absolution did.

6. Falling Away With You - Mellow and soft, an amazing way to calm the listener.

7. Interlude - It's an interlude, nothing much to say.

8. Hysteria - An amazing song with enough crazy to shoot up OJ Simpson. I never liked Muse lyrics, they always tried too hard, but this song actually sums up Hysteria quite well. An amazing rock song with a funnier guitar solo to match.

9. Blackout - As i said in the last review, a song inspired by Italian aria's. Amazing orchestration and a beautiful vocal performance.

10. Butterflies & Hurricanes - If Time Is Running Out made me a fan of Muse, Butterflies & Hurricanes proved them to be one of the greatest bands out at the time. An amazing journey with mellow,loud, symphonic stabs to the chest. My favourite part is the tocatta inspired piano middle section which displays Matt's dexeterity as an amazing pianist and composer. An epic.

11. The Small Print - To be honest, this song would be great, if the lyrics weren't so cringe worthy. "I'm a priest that God never paid"...what does that even mean. By a word change, this is a great rocking song.

12. Endlessly - A mellancollica chillout disco jazz song....basically. The chorus is great as well.

13. Thoughts Of A Dying Athiest - To be honest, being an athiest, this song does "scare the hell outa me." It's a great song and the lyrics are great as well. For some reason the riff at the start reminds me of Mastodon. I like the arabic trait at the end of the chorus.

14. Ruled By Secrecy - A very eerie ending to this album. Great nontheless.

CONCLUSION: An amazing album. If you don't have it...what is wrong with you. Go out and buy it now.

Report this review (#258490)
Posted Wednesday, December 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Absolution is the album that I've listened to the least out of the three Muse albums that I've had the opportunity of experiencing. It didn't really have much to do with the album itself but more with the circumstances that surrounded me at the time of its release. I consider the 2002-2004 period in my music development to be highly significant to my current level of enlightenment. This was where I really got into the Symphonic Prog bands like Genesis, Yes and ELP meaning that I personally refer to that period as my classic years.

I can understand why Absolution is currently the highest rated Muse release on the site. The album features quite a few of the band's best songs like Time Is Running Out and Hysteria at the same time it also fully utilized the Muse-sound that has, in the recent years, become a subject of imitation by other bands. But even though this record is an important artistic statement it also has its share of filler material. In fact, Absolution is far from a solid all around release that I would have wished it to be since the album is almost entirely split between excellent and filler material with very little middle ground in between the two.

The album starts with a short intro track that transitions into the atmospheric sounds of Apocalypse Please. This is where we get bombarded by a few heavier tracks like Time Is Running Out and Stockholm Syndrome that are easily the highlights of the album. Unfortunately it's the album's second part, starting with Interlude, that isn't really as strong. Things do start nicely with another heavy guitar rocker Hysteria but Blackout sounds quite pretentious to my ears and even though Butterflies And Hurricanes is easily the most progressive track of this album it just doesn't reach the intensity that the song's build-up originally promises.

The last four tracks consist mostly of either experiments gone wrong or just filler material that the band added just to fill out the space. Small Print and Thoughts Of A Dying Atheist are just two straightforward rockers that feel like an insult after all the excellent heavy hitting rockers that came right before it. Endlessly is flirting with disco which isn't something that I think this band needs to explore any further. Finally Ruled By Secrecy closes the album with another atmospheric landscape which I do find suiting even though I wish that the track had a stronger punch to it.

Overall Absolution, just like Origin Of Symmetry before it, is another important piece of this band's history due to the high number of great songs incorporated into the mix. Unfortunately the filler material restrains me once again from giving a Muse album anything higher than the good, but non-essential rating. Still I urge all the fans of this type of music to check this album out since this is one of the few times when Muse managed to satisfy all the spectrums of their fan-base without resolving to truly cheesy moments.

***** star songs: Time Is Running Out (3:58) Stockholm Syndrome (4:57) Hysteria (3:47)

**** star songs: Apocalypse Please (4:13) Sing For Absolution (4:55) Falling Away With You (4:41) Butterflies And Hurricanes (5:02) Ruled By Secrecy (4:52)

*** star songs: Intro (0:22) Interlude (0:38) Blackout (4:22) Small Print (3:29) Endlessly (3:49) Thoughts Of A Dying Atheist (3:07)

Report this review (#282030)
Posted Saturday, May 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a fine album from 2003, better than any other work I have heard from Muse. In it I hear many, many influences and similarities from artists such as ELO, Queen, Radiohead, Dredg, and Rush. Is it prog?- in many ways it is: it has some great electronic moments, long songs alternating with short songs, complicated structures, and some fine bombastic elements that put me in mind of early Queen (first 3 or so albums). But, it is also just a great pop rock album. Highlights for me are "Apocalypse Please", "Time is Running Out", and "Stockholm Syndrome". The first half of the CD is a masterpiece but my interest wanes towards the end, somewhere about "Blackout", or so. I can rate ABSOLUTION a solid 4 stars, however. Fans of Radiohead, Dredg, and Queen should be well pleased.
Report this review (#295869)
Posted Monday, August 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Before I get into the music I want to talk about the cover. Is that the LP/vinyl cover used on this site? My CD copy has a man holding a gas mask on the front; on the back is what I assume to be the same little girl but she's wearing all red. All three show the same shadows of floating bodies above. This cover was done by Storm Thorgerson and Dan Abbott. Storm of course used to be a part of the Hipgnosis team who created famous album covers and sleeves for the likes of Floyd, Zeppelin, etc. This is one of the best album covers of the past ten years.

Besides the awesome cover, there was only one other reason I decided to buy this: seeing the video for "Stockholm Syndrome". That song, and video, blew me away. I had always heard that Muse were a Radiohead clone. I always liked Radiohead but generally steer clear of copycat bands. Apart from the vocals I really can't see much of a resemblance. Radiohead rarely rocked as hard as these guys do.

The marching beat of "Intro" leads into "Apocalypse Please". Great piano in an odd time signature. Before 2 minutes great sequencer part with falsetto vocals. This part comes back later. Classical piano at the end. "Time Is Running Out" is a catchy song with a great bass sound. Nice subtle keyboards during the verses. Good Spanish-style electric guitar after the first chorus. The piano during the last verse is great. The Spanish guitar part ends it.

Matthew Bellamy seems to use every effects pedal/stomp-box ever created. "Stockholm Syndrome" is a good example of guitar effects. This song has a great heavy riff. The drumming is awesome during the verses. I love the dreamy sequencers during the chorus along with piano. A really good guitar solo but it's way too short. "Interlude" is just distorted guitar which reminds me of the famous "Adagio For Strings". "Hysteria" has a great guitar solo. I like the distorted bass sound.

The album is on a roll till it hits "Blackout". A let down after everything that came before it. A ballad with strings in almost waltz-style. But even this song has a great guitar solo in it. "Butterflies & Hurricanes" starts with what sounds like electric piano and vocals. Then cymbals and strings. Great singing in this song. Later things pick up when the whole band comes in. In the middle there is steady bass and a hi-hat pattern with strings and piano. Then just piano and some strings sounding very classical. Electric piano comes back and first part gets repeated.

"The Small Print" has punk style verses and a metal style chorus. These guys sound so damn heavy on that chorus for just a trio. "Endlessly" has weird sounding drums and electric piano. The chorus sounds like techno. 1 1/2 minutes in is a cool backwards sound. Later bass and some nice synths. The part around 2 1/2 minutes is great. Melodic and atmospheric. The last two songs are the least interesting.

Absolution is a great modern rock album. It's probably the band's most proggy effort. I think this deserves 3.5 but I can't really give this 4 stars. It's not something that every prog fan needs in their collection. The sound, production and playing is excellent. But some of the songs are fairly straight forward verse/chorus/solo stuff. At least Muse still does guitar solos in this day and age.

Report this review (#334436)
Posted Thursday, November 25, 2010 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars The 5 minute straight-jacket

Released in 2003, "Absolution" was Muse's third studio album, and by far their most successful up to that point. Having developed a rapidly increasing audience with their previous album, the band captured the mood of the period perfectly this time around.

It should be said up front that while this is much more than an Indie/pop/rock set, it only really touches on the boundaries of prog, hence the band's prog related assignment on this site.

In some ways this band take me back to the early days of prog. The vocals of Matthew Bellamy for example are very much an acquired taste, in the same way as it took us a lot of persistence to come to terms with the squeaky sounds which emanated from a young Jon Anderson. His style is not unlike that of Thom Yorke (Radiohead), but the setting here is more of a straight rock sound, devoid of the jazz nuances which attract Radiohead. Here we range from the heavy guitar riff driven "Hysteria", veering towards punk of tracks such as "Stockholm syndrome" through the emotional power balladry of "Sing for absolution", to the gentle acoustics of the beginning of "Falling away with you".

The band are heavily reliant on Bellamy's vocals, any instrumental development being confined to his guitar and piano digressions. While this does not in itself imply a lack of variation, it does restrict the the opportunities for the tracks to be fully developed. There is the potential here for a number of the tracks to be taken beyond their 5 minute straight- jackets into more adventurous areas.

Impressively, the noisy, riff fuelled "Hysteria" did make the top 10 of the UK singles chart, showing that there is still a discerning singles market there if the right product is placed in front of them. The highlight of the album for me though is the majestic "Blackout", complete with backing by a small orchestra. Incidentally, the video which accompanied this song was inspired by a scene from the film "The wall" (Pink Floyd).

Overall, a fine album by any standard. Both the album and the band's relevance in prog terms is highly marginal, but who of here listens exclusively to prog?

Report this review (#447730)
Posted Saturday, May 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Rating: 10/10

It should be hard trying to sound epic and classical in the 2000's.

It's not the '70s, when Pink Floyd, Yes, Genesis and Queen showed us all the way.

So, Muse took the risk of sounding grandiloquent, over produced, very pretentious or simply repetitive and boring.

But "Absolution" is anything but that.

Even the "intro", barely announced with disturbed but low guitars, sounds epic and deep.

So from the start, they create a complete flawless work in which orchestrations are totally related to songs, guitars are full of rage but sensibility, always sounding loud and challenging; Matthew Bellamy shows he doesn't only control perfectly vocals and songwriting.

Chris Wolstenhome makes an incredible work with bass too, always sounding potent and variate, like the distortion on the masterpiece "Time is running out" or the powerful "Hysteria".He and drummer Dominic Howard are a stunning tempo machine that create a beautiful contrast when the melodies are calm, low or dark.

Lyrics have some mysticism ("Thoughts of a dying man", "Ruled by secrecy"), alternating several moods like rage ("Apocalypse please"), desperate ("Time is running out"), paranoia ("Stockholm syndrome") and euphoria ("Hysteria", "Butterflies and hurricanes"), among others. This is an outstanding album because is one of those cases in which bands, or artists, accomplish what they purpose in all terms: musically and artistically.

Report this review (#458444)
Posted Thursday, June 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars It's no secret that Muse main man Matt Bellamy is an unabashed conspiracy buff, and so it's only natural that it should come out here and there in the lyrics of Absolution, the first Muse album to come out after 9/11 (which, of course, set conspiracy fans the world over into overdrive). As well as overt espousal of conspiracy theory in songs like Ruled By Secrecy - whose title recalls an infamous work of conspiracy literature - there's also the apocalyptic and paranoid tone of songs like the title track. Hogwash, of course, but musically speaking this is a perfectly logical development of the emotionally overwrought and musically bombastic style Muse hit on in Origin of Symmetry. That said, the playfulness evident in the previous album has all but disappeared and a certain po-faced seriousness creeps into the music here, and I don't think Muse have been quite on form since.
Report this review (#659749)
Posted Thursday, March 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
rogerthat
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Circa 2013, Muse may have settled into a somewhat predictable pattern (ironically having attained some career highlights like performing at the Olympics in the process). But in 2004, they were younger and fresher and consolidated their earlier promise to produce a masterpiece and arguably the finest of their six studio albums. They also don't sound as hung up on Queen at this point!

Rather, the most positive aspect of Absolution is its eclecticism. As I did in my Strange Days review, I will use two songs to develop this point. Small Print is violent enough to thrill a metalhead (if said metalhead is prepared to look beyond Bellamy's delivery) and that is no mean feat in terms of the aggression quotient. Just the opening bars, THOSE riffs, are headbanging manna for sure.

Which is fine as far as it goes because the quintessential metal sound has become somewhat ubiquitous in the noughties. No, the thing is Muse also perform the lovely ballad Falling Away with You. This is not your typical cliched 80s style power ballad stuff. It has moments that are utterly delicate, sensitive...and moving though I do object mildly to the loud volume of the drums in many places. To me, it appears well beyond the grasp of a typical metal band (or a typical Britpop band at the other end of the spectrum), to straddle both extremes, especially on the same album. Muse not only do so but also internalize these extremes, with everything else in between, into a style readily identifiable as theirs.

And there's lots of this stuff that slots in between. Sing for Absolution moves a little faster than Falling Away With You and follows a more typical soaring pattern but still engages with the sheer power of Muse's delivery. Endlessly sees the band dabbling rather tastefully in more electronic based music. Ruled by Secrecy vaguely evokes Crime of the Century. There are also other crushing rockers apart from Small Print like Stockholm Syndrome and Hysteria.

And make no mistake, there are the usual Queen-isms too, most notably Apocalypse Please and Butterflies and Hurricanes. On the latter, Bellamy's voice is especially reminiscent of Freddie Mercury, though not quite as captivating in my humble opinion. But the piano interlude on Butterflies and Hurricanes gets pretty far out, not quite very typical of Queen.

If I had to use one track to sum up the album, it would be Butterflies and Hurricanes, which particularly dazzled me when I listened to this album for the first time. Muse fit varied styles into songs with relatively straight up structures but involving instrumental virtuosity and deliver these in a manner that is intense and power packed. This is rock music on steroids. There are no half measures for Muse. They are out to dazzle you and sweep you off their feet and how can they not with their enormous talent. Of course, such an approach may not appeal to all and the band tends to divide listeners. But if you are in for the ride, you are probably going to love all of it.

Or, nearly. I do have some reservations about Bellamy's singing. His diction lacks clarity and the hiccup-like sharp intake of breath he indulges in between lines is off putting for me (and from a technical point of view, I am curious as to how he manages this all the time without hurting his voice as the 'onset of breath' sounds too drastic). He also avoids gritty singing on the rockers and it would improve their appeal if he could. Still, he has a pretty powerful voice and belts it out and it has a pleasant timbre when he is singing softly so I will take it.

Perhaps, what Roger Waters said of Dark Side of the Moon is true for other bands too. Maybe bands do strive to give their all and get their act together on one album to deliver one magnum opus. Afterwards, they may not have fuel in the tank for another. And if even they do deliver, fans of one magnum opus may judge the other too harshly from their biased prism (see Radiohead). At any rate, Black Holes and Revelations doesn't seem to have been that one for Muse. They have got time on their side and hopefully they can obliterate all in their path yet again as they did with Absolution. Until then...

Report this review (#1016218)
Posted Sunday, August 11, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars 8/10

Listen Absolution was a challenge for me. I think he, like Lateralus, was the album that I heard repeated more times to make a review here on the site. Simply could not have formed an opinion about it. There was a sense of division within me, considering both the positive and the negative points.

In the end, I conclude that this is not a masterpiece.

It is arrogant. Yes, arrogant. What better word to describe it? Arrogant, ambitious, pretentious? All those adjectives fall very well. We know that Muse is a band of simple tastes, always being eclectic and bold, but I think here they crossed the line. The structure of the album just does not work as well as its predecessor Origin of Symmetry (which I found to be much better). While there are a lot of songs that will certainly enter the ranks of the best they've done, there are others that make me twist the nose.

I still can not digest a song like Thoughts of a Dying Atheist. I think so far is the worst they've done. To tell the truth, both she and Small Print Endlessly seem as out of place in the structure of the album (although the other two are still relatively good). I think if they were not here I would easily provide a rating of 5 stars. Hysteria also seems somewhat disposable, and I can not stand the introduction of Time is Running Out (because of her I refused to listen to the entire album for some time - before you hear it to make my review). We have an Overture which reminds me of The Wall (listen Bring The Boys Back Home, and you'll understand what I'm talking about) and a Range. Short tracks, and just opening transition.

Now, the other ...

I do not know where to start. Well, I think there are three big favorite here. Stockholm Syndrome is a metal monster, like Butterflies and Hurricanes is a classical band in the best sense - and notice how both together can form "Never Enough" Dream Theater (well, they never denied the inspiration to the song, is not it?) ! And Falling Away With You is a beautiful romantic track which escapes the clichés of a genre. The influences of classical music are still manifesting in Blackout and opening imposing Apocalypse Please (Piano Matthew is even more present here, stealing the scene as the bass did on the previous album), plus highlights of Sing for Absolution Ruled by the closure secrecy.

Overall, Absolution is a great album, but not a masterpiece. Is somewhat uneven, and I do not want to sound an annoying saying I did not like him, but somehow I do not think is all that talk. 4 stars.

Report this review (#1017249)
Posted Monday, August 12, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Absolution expands upon the sounds already established by Origin of Symmetry, the symphonic elements taking a more central role, and the band's sound diversifying to cover the much of the spectrum of heaviness, from soft balladry to hard rock/metal. While Muse showcases a variety of styles, Absolution is unified as it explores many of rock's different sounds.

It all comes together to form a masterpiece. The variety on this album is astounding ? you have a song like Hysteria, an energetic, catchy rock song with a mind-bending bass line, followed directly by Blackout, a slow, emotional track relying strongly on symphonic backing. Blackout's lyrics are precautionary and serious, the solo conveying much feeling in the absence of words. Another stark contrast is between Stockholm Syndrome and Butterflies and Hurricanes. Stockholm Syndrome is among Muse's heaviest songs, and it's absolutely blistering. The chorus is raging and the outro could crush one's skull. Dynamics are used here to great effect. No wonder Dream Theater ripped it off. Butterflies and Hurricanes is a classical-influenced piece, with a piano solo in the middle. The lyrics try to be so inspirational that they border on cheesy. Okay, how are these on the same album? But it works. All of these songs, the four tracks standouts described above, and the others, work together in unison, maybe because the song quality is high all the way through (though near the end there is a slight drop). The lyrics, also, contribute to its cohesiveness ? it's an album that touches on the same topics on more than one song each. It's as if Absolution could have been a concept album if it had been altered more; common themes include religion, the apocalypse/war, governmental problems, and personal issues. On the next release, Black Holes and Revelations, lyrics would begin to come together even more.

Absolution demonstrates what Muse can do as a band and their love for experimentation. This album relies more on symphonic components and a wide range of heaviness, and it still sounds like it belongs together rather than being a mess of songs that don't function as a unit. It's not the most progressive album, but it's definitely worth a listen.

Report this review (#1424822)
Posted Sunday, June 7, 2015 | Review Permalink
Necrotica
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I feel like I'm being gutted with every word I write, because I'm tearing so deeply into a piece of my own upbringing. The passage of time has become a cruel sadist, strangling me with the fretboard of my own guitar as I hear the pieces I practiced so diligently in my adolescence. It's sickening, but only because of how brilliant and addicting the original experience was at one point. It's sickening, because I can still recite every damn word of something that I can't connect to anymore. The pedestal that shouldered this old giant has since become dusty, long abandoned as newer acts have built their own pantheon from scratch, but it wasn't supposed to be this way. They sang thoughtfully about revolution and social/political corruption. They incorporated beautiful classical flourishes in their energetic brand of alternative rock. They had a charismatic frontman who was proficient in countless different musical fields.

But, again, the passage of time can be cruel.

Much like Muse's relevance, the quality of their peak era has seemed to decay with every passing year. What once seemed thought-provoking now reeks of a horrible sense of pomp and self-importance that puts their sincerity in question. What seemed so beautifully elaborate and intricate now sounds derivative and dated. What seemed like a modern-day rock opera of progressive rock grandeur and propulsive flights of metal fancy has now devolved into something that is simply a dull homogeneous slog. The same things that once distinguished Absolution as a modern classic have now somehow worked against it, to the point that many of its tracks are practically unlistenable now. I can't get through 'Falling Away with You,' with its blend of overly melodramatic croons and repetitive melodies, and the horrendously overblown piano theatrics of 'Apocalypse Please' become a chore to endure for even the mere four minutes of its runtime. Even a lot of the more uptempo pieces feel a bit lifeless today, and tricks that seemed so impressive to my teenage mind - particularly the piano solo in 'Butterflies and Hurricanes' - seem more gimmicky than beneficial to the music now. Adapting influences from Sergei Rachmaninoff into rock music may be cool on a superficial level, but not when it creates a disjointed and disorganized piece of work. The worst thing about all this is that, with a handful of experiences here, I can still sense how much effort and passion were thrown in. 'Hysteria' is still a beautifully uplifting alternative rock classic, and the pulse-pounding heavy metal riffage of 'Stockholm Syndrome' can still bring the chills. But taken holistically, it all falls apart very quickly. There's diversity here; I'll give the band that. We get everything from alternative metal ('Hysteria,' 'Stockholm Syndrome'), to symphonic rock ('Butterflies and Hurricanes,' 'Blackout') to even some slices of melodic punk ('Thoughts of a Dying Atheist,' 'The Small Print'). But it plays out like a smorgasbord of musical stylings that never comes together in a meaningful fashion. The diversity is more scattershot than complementary, and having Matt Bellamy doing his irritating 'operatic' wailing over every different genre doesn't help matters. This is musical Attention Deficit Disorder disguised as variation.

None of this is pleasurable at all to write, as it definitely hurts removing rose-colored glasses to see how gutting reality can be. But listening to Absolution again was eye-opening (or ear-opening) for all the wrong reasons. Hearing it again is like meeting with a friend after years of distance, only to realize you took completely different paths and pursued completely different interests in the meantime. Deep down, there will always be that bitter disappointment when contemplating what could have been a fantastic reunion, and all that remains is an awkward reminder of how young and naive you both used to be. That, more or less, is the feeling I have now. And I also feel sick.

Report this review (#1910998)
Posted Saturday, March 31, 2018 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
3 stars MUSE released their third album ABSOLUTION approximately two years after their second "Origin Of Symmetry" but in that short time the world had forever changed. The terrorist attacks of 911 and the subsequent illegal wars launched on Iraq and Afghanistan added even more political furor and focus on conspiratorial analysis of world powers run amok. Due to creative differences mostly resulting from Matt Bellamy's liberal use of falsetto vocal gymnastics, MUSE refused to re-record their second album for American record labels (who demanded they did) and therefore didn't find a US release for that album until years later. Having finally resolved their differences, ABSOLUTION still didn't see the light of day for a full six months after its UK release but finally got them in the North American club which helped launch their career into the next phase - international alternative art rock superstars. The 21st century British Invasion had finally begun, although one could argue that it was a mere logical next step of the 90s Britpop scene that had simply branched out into more ambitious avenues closer to the world of progressive rock, but nonetheless MUSE struck a chord with their politically charged lyrics, catchy pop hooks and artful sophisticated approach of stylistic fusion.

Once again MUSE scored big in their native UK with their first top 10 hit "Time Is Running Out," but while finally hitting the shores of North America, only managed to find success on the alternative rock charts. Bellamy claims the title is not religious but rather more in the sense of "purity" which sounds like code for a sense of soul searching in the midst of the world wide chaos that was taking place. While MUSE had started out as political commentators, the events of the world had put their disheartening viewpoints as the focus which is reflected in the darker themes with a more melancholic feel to the album as a whole. While the previous album had a sort of childlike innocence to it, ABSOLUTION feels as if a dark cloud was cast over the band as they lamented the times in which they lived but felt they had to take a stand and be a resistant force in every possible way. Since music was their vehicle of communication, it became infused with their political charged viewpoints which left no room for ambiguities.

While stylistically a darker album in contrast to "Origin Of Symmetry," as heard with the first jaded electronic effects on the opener "Apocalypse Please" with its "Intro," musically speaking, ABSOLUTION is much like its predecessors with a heavy focus on Bellamny's concert pianist skills channelling his inner New Romantic with emphasis on Chopin-esque classical chops as the underpinning. While overall the album is a bit less in the rock arena and more subdued and mournful with symphonic rock influences making a more prominent presence as heard on tracks like "Butterflies And Hurricanes" and "Blackout" which featured a full 18-piece orchestra. There are a few fully charged rockers as well ranging from the single "Time Is Running Out" to the heaviest track on the album "Stockholm Syndrome." The ELO-esque NU-ENRG disco effect still straddles around the classical piano, tango-laced bass grooves and heavy guitar riffs still are abundant even though there are a few new elements such as the focus on electronica on "Endlessly."

MUSE were progressing! So why doesn't it sound like they were? ABSOLUTION has always been my least favorite album of the early albums but i've never bothered to figure out exactly why i always favor the previous albums or the following ones. Something about this one is just off and has always bugged me enough to just ignore it. Having done my research for reviewing these albums, it makes more sense. MUSE had been rejected from US labels due to Matt Bellamy's passionate and overwrought use of Prince-like falsettos in conjunct with a rather 80s Bono (of U2) type of vocal style. On ABSOLUTION he sort of tames it down a bit and the result is that the music suffers since they seem to be the focus despite the ridiculous amounts of musical styles that accompany them. While MUSE's lyrics have developed, the music seems to have taken a few steps back. These tracks are just OK as opposed to the kick ass musical orgy of styles on previous albums. Add to that the tracks are badly paced with a silly ballad ending the album and a horrible production and mixing job to boot. This one just fails on many levels but there are still plenty of great tracks to make it a worthy addition to your MUSE fix. It's just that none of them match the awesomeness of "Origin Of Symmetry" or the next two albums.

Report this review (#1941998)
Posted Friday, June 29, 2018 | Review Permalink
Kempokid
COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars After the absolute monster of an album that Origin of Symmetry was, it was clear that Muse would have to do something incredible in order to live up to their material. I personally think that in some respects, they definitely did it, smoothing out the rougher edges present and focusing on a much grander sound, replacing many of the scratchy, abrasive tones with a much more symphonic and synth heavy album, with simply amazing production and sound mixing to go along with it. The songs feel much more powerful and intense in general, and quite a few surpass the majority of the excellent songs on Origin of Symmetry as well. Unfortunately, despite this, the album definitely has a few problems that do drag it down, especially when it comes to the often bland, occasionally straight up bad ballads the album contains, along with there being a severe case of top loading, with the majority of the stand out tracks appearing in the first half.

The album starts off in an incredible way, showing all that Muse have become, with an intense, dissonant piano line as Matt Bellamy belts out his vocals, before layers of harmonisation come in. In general, Apocalypse Please does serve as an excellent album as well for how much darker it sounds, sounding like the soundtrack to the very moment the world is coming to an end. The song progresses with some excellent synths before falling back into the harrowing, intense main portion of the song. 'Time Is Running Out' is a more laid back, mid paced song that builds itself around a simple beat, with most of the appeal coming from the extraordinarily catchy vocal melody combined with nice, subtle changes throughout, with even the climax of the song being remarkably less bombastic than the average Muse affair. The next few tracks on the album are quite a mixed bag, with some being stunning, and others being quite below average. Out of the ballads, I quite enjoy Sing For Absolution for the amazing atmosphere and production, but do find the song to lose quite a lot of its impact due to what I personally find to be an extremely weak chorus that is worse in every way to the bulk of the song. Falling Away With You on the other hand, oh boy, this is in all likelihood my least favourite song from the first 4 or 5 albums of the band, as I find it accomplishes nothing at all, having a shoddy at best melody, and no sort of impact at all in any way other than boring me half to death. On the other hand, two of the better songs by Muse are found here, those being Stockholm Syndrome and Hysteria. These two songs work so perfectly, and while Falling Away With You does break the flow to some extent, these two tracks are such intense powerhouses that it really doesn't affect it as much as you'd first think. Stockholm Syndrome is the band being at some of their heaviest and most intense, with a killer riff, and a constant fast pace that works exceptionally with one of Matt Bellamy's most emotional performances. The way the song proceeds to become even more heavy near the end with a slower, more powerful version of the main riff is also an excellent moment.

Hysteria takes on a different approach, instead of building with layers upon layers of noise, instead just having riffs so perfect that nothing can come close to it. The insane bassline combined with the simple, yet incredibly effective riff, making for one of the best rockers of the band's career, by far. What makes this even more impressive to have such an amazing song is just how simple it is, with a standard pop structure and no big surprises to be found, with the entire song just based around some of the best riffs I've heard. Unfortunately, after this, the album becomes considerably more flawed, starting it off with Blackout, a pleasant, but overall dull song that doesn't do too much for me. In general, even the faster paced songs here more in line with Muse's general sound and pace generally have some issues with them. Butterflies and Hurricanes is in general an extremely good song, reminding me of a more controlled, less frantic Darkshines, mostly with the short piano section before each chorus and transition. Despite this being one of the most promising songs on the album, I do find the piano interlude to be disruptive and to just ruin a lot of the flow and power that the song had, which I find to be a massive shame. The other songs are okay for the most part, with The Small Print a really good, fast song, while Endlessly is a really nice, slower paced song that works extremely well, being absolutely beautiful. The album ends quite weakly, with Thoughts of a Dying Atheist being quite repetitive, and Ruled By Secrecy simply being somewhat unmemorable.

Overall, this album is absolutely genius in parts, but then quite poor in others. The rating for this one was really difficult to figure out, as I was jumping between a 3 and 4 for quite a while, but eventually settled on a 3, as while there are some tracks of pure greatness, most of the stuff past Hysteria is fairly unimpressive, and Falling Away With You is frustratingly poor. That said, the overall darker, more grandiose tone of the album is something I'm definitely a big fan of, and if this album were trimmed down a bit and refined, this would probably be an album I enjoyed even more than Origin Of Symmetry.

Best songs: Apocalypse Please, Stockholm Syndrome, Hysteria

Weakest songs: Falling Away With You, Blackout, Thoughts of A Dying Atheist

Verdict: If you like really bombastic, dramatic music, you'll probably find some enjoyment in this album, as despite some bumps along the way, the album does have some genuinely incredible songs that are just unfortunately balanced out by mediocrity. That said, I do think that if you're looking for something like what has been described, you should check this out at least once, because it's far from bad.

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Posted Thursday, February 7, 2019 | Review Permalink

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