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BLACK HOLES AND REVELATIONS

Muse

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Muse Black Holes And Revelations  album cover
3.60 | 299 ratings | 48 reviews | 23% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2006

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Take A Bow (4:35)
2. Starlight (3:59)
3. Supermassive Black Hole (3:28)
4. Map Of The Problematique (4:17)
5. Soldier's Poem (2:03)
6. Invincible (4:59)
7. Assassin (3:29)
8. Exo-Politics (3:52)
9. City Of Delusion (4:47)
10. Hoodoo (3:42)
11. Knights Of Cydonia (6:04)
12. Glorious (4:38)

Total Time: 49:57

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Mattew Bellamy / guitars, voice
- Christopher Wolstenholme / bass
- Dominic James Howard / drums

Releases information

CD Warner Bros. Records (2006)

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MUSE Black Holes And Revelations ratings distribution


3.60
(299 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(23%)
23%
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(41%)
41%
Good, but non-essential (23%)
23%
Collectors/fans only (8%)
8%
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)
5%

MUSE Black Holes And Revelations reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Certif1ed
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I'll probably get crucified by my fellow Muse fans for this, but I really think that this album is probably the least Proggy that Muse have done.

Of course, I don't own a copy yet, I made my review notes from the "listening party" that Muse recently held on MySpace.com, during which they streamed the album in it's near-entirity - so I'll be updating this review in the next couple of weeks, once I have a copy.

While the single "Super Massive Black Hole" might have you thinking that Muse have "done a Radiohead" and completely re-invented themselves in an attempt to avoid falling into the trap of writing "Absolution II", the album under review here is quite obviously a Muse album, with all the hallmarks - and few real deviations from their established style.

That said, there are plenty of places that Muse explore territory that is new for them - the vocal harmonies have got some real spit and polish, and in places are more than reminiscent of Queen. There are pieces that really stand out - but there are more pieces that are no more than enjoyable for what they are - and what they are not is Prog Rock, on the whole - with a few notable exceptions.

The album opens promisingly enough - "Take A Bow" begins with a quiet keyboard ostinato that is maintained for the first minute and a half, as vocals join, and it undergoes a quite brilliant build-up for a further minute until the now predictable and doom-laden power chords provide a continuation and further building up of this idea to crunching oblivion. The lyrics are striking, if not exactly subtle - but then Muse are (possibly unfairly) not renowned for being subtle. The message to certain war- mongering world leaders "You will burn in hell for your sins" deftly avoids sounding cheesey, by being delivered in a manner that is promising rather than threatening.

"Starlight" continues, with an intense intro that drops away into the land of Orchestral Manouevres in the Dark - with lyrics that appear to be inspired by Morrisey/Smiths. It's a reasonable enough song with interesting structuring, but not particularly inventive - and the quality of the lyrics appears to do a bit of a nose-dive in the "chorus" section. "High Hopes and Expectations, Black Holes and Revelations" indeed.

I reviewed "Super Massive Black Hole" separately, so I'll skip over it - but it does make a bit more sense in the context of the rest of the album.

Next up is "Map of the Problemmatique", which carries a distinct New Order flavour, with a large portion of early U2. A decent enough pop/rock song, with a decent set of lyrics, that might appeal to fans of The Bravery, but with no proggy elements whatsoever.

"Soldier's Poem" carries music that I'm sure I once heard coming from a keyboard made by Bontempi, and is where the vocal harmonies really start to sound like Queen, with intriguing barbershop style layers and tags. It has to be said that the quality of harmony-writing is very high, and the Queen comparison is fully justified.

"Invincible" features a droning intro, and great arrangement details. The music builds similarly to "Take A Bow", but here we do have a "B" section as well as an "A". The harmonic progressions will be familiar to any Muse fan. A great crowd-pleaser, lighters in the air and all that - it somehow reminds me of Keane, until the big riff around 3:20, that sadly gives way to one of Matt's "anti-solos". I'm sure it will be great live, but as part of a polished product, it's annoying.

"Assassin" is a standout track - a delightfully thrashy concoction with much appeal to metal fans - except, of course, it's not metal. Less predictable than the material that preceeded it, this is probably this album's equivalent of "New Born" or "Time Is Running Out" - and it doesn't sound too dissimilar to either. But it does rock with intensity, and makes me happy that there are bands like Muse creating music like this.

"Exo-Politics" is probably this album's "Stockholm Syndrome", with added theremin that sounds oddly at home in Muse's sonic palette. This is going to be another Muse epic track - even better, on the whole, than "Assassin". But it doesn't mark a progression over anything on "Absolution", despite being a wicked song.

The acoustic intro to "City of Delusion" marks a style change, and this is the first time we get the feeling of Muse really exploring the parameters of rock music - in addition to adding orchestral instruments to the texture - and hence providing some great Prog Rock at last. The textural developments and contrasts are noteworthy too - all elements of music are pushed at, and the end result is a confection that is very satisfying - trumpet solo apart. This latter device is a great idea, and starts very well, but quickly descends into a derived and trivial piece of nonsense that is there to fill the gap left for the instrumental section. But full marks to Muse for delivering!

This is continued into the flamenco entry for "Hoodoo" a full-blown Prog-Rock track with strong Radiohead flavours in places, but the welcome re-addition of Matt's Rakhmaninov-inspired piano (there's simply not enough of this on this album!). This is the real deal, and shows what Muse are really capable of if they put their minds to it.

Then, with thundering hooves and Star Trek noises, comes "Knights of Cydonia"

I won't analyse this one - just trust me, it's a great song, you'll love it. "No-one's gonna take me alive, The time has come to make things right, You and I must fit for our rights, You and I must fight to survive". Stirring stuff, and monster rocking riffs to boot.

Unfortunately the version of the album that Muse put onto their MySpace profile, seems to be lacking the final track "Glorious", or my notes are incomplete - but by this time on Monday 3rd July, I'll have a bona fide copy of the album in my collection :0)

If you're already a Muse fan, you'll either be puzzled or excited by this album initially - but over time, will end up delighted - it's a quality piece of work.

If you're not already a fan, though, this album probably won't convert you - it would be better to start with "Origins of Symmetry".

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Send comments to Certif1ed (BETA) | Report this review (#82358) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, July 01, 2006

Review by richardh
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I only got the album yesterday but have listened to it 5 times already! I'm a big fan of Muse and was actually expecting this album to be disappoinment having read all the comments going around about them going for a poppier approach.All fears are dispelled just by the opening track 'Take A Bow' which is just amazing! Pompous and grandiose music that only a select few bands would ever attempt.Perhaps ELP in their heyday?!! The album does admittedly settle down into some familiar Muse type stylings with more than a nod or two towards Queen as Certified noted in his review.The songs perhaps are not as strong as on Absolution but I enjoy the different tones and sounds that abound across a nice variety of peices.This is very much a collection of songs of which 'Knights Of Cydonia' is the stand out.There are no bands around that can do what Muse do IMO but by their high standards this is only 4 star material.Just stops short of being a full 5 stars because its too eclectic and unfocused.Thats the drawback I feel.But certainly don't be afraid to get it if you have any interest in Muse!

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Send comments to richardh (BETA) | Report this review (#82418) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, July 02, 2006

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Also available as ring tones

Muse's most recent album (at time of writing) finds them developing their style and sound, and reaching a significant stage in their maturity. From a prog perspective, this comes at a cost, and that cost is a distinct move towards the commercial sound of bands such as KEENE and the MANIC STREET PREACHERS, while acquiring the more mainstream aspects of RADIOHEAD.

With that proviso in mind, what MUSE have come up with here is thoroughly enjoyable. The opening "Take a bow" is a writhing, building opener, which whets the appetite for the album nicely. The following "Starlight" is an obvious attempt at securing at least one hit single from this album, the strong melody and pleasant vocals betraying pop at its finest. "Map of the problematique" follows a similar path.

"Supermarket black hole" drifts dangerously close to PRINCE territory, complete with high pitched vocals and a heavy, funky beat.

The brief "Soldier's poem" is a delicate soft ballad with lead vocals which sound more like Thom Yorke than Thom Yorke does, combined with some Freddie Mercury inspired harmonies. This is repeated on the equally aching "Hoodoo", prior to the introduction of theatrical piano surges and dramatic orchestration.

"Invincible" opens with some FLOYDIAN floating guitar back by a gentle marching beat. The vocal performance here is supreme, the song building climactically and irresistibly. I have a feeling this one will be a regular on the airwaves. "City of illusion" is the most heavily produced track, with swirling orchestration and solo trumpet, the over all sound emphasising the similarities with the MANICs.

The album closes with "Knights of Cydonia", a retro laden burst of driving rock with URIAH HEEP overtones, especially in the harmonic interruptions.

Being honest, this is not a progressive rock album. Indeed, there is little here to offer any sort of listening challenge at all. This is mature pop rock, professionally composed and performed, but always with an eye on chart success. If your tastes extend to such music, there is much for you to enjoy here.

Footnote, it is a significant that the album insert includes details on how to obtain ring tones of the tracks for your mobile phone. Can you envisage the Flower Kings for example including such an offer any time soon?

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#84511) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, July 22, 2006

Review by hdfisch
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars POP GOES PROG??

I'm currently checking out a couple of modern (more or less) progressive bands like TMV (most experimental), Kayo Dot (most innovative), Riverside (most captivating) and now as well MUSE (most poppy or shall I say most rubbish?). Actually I'm aware of this highly RADIOHEAD-related band since right from their beginning and even watched them live already (just incredibly noisy and not really enjoyable). I liked to listen their debut back in 1999/2000 but this was happening during days I mostly listened to Alternative Rock. Meanwhile I discovered trillions of modern bands that are 1000x better than them I've to say. I could not say that there is that much improvement present here on their latest output compared to their debut or the follow-ups. I would even claim they're sounding worse here, a sort of mix between post-punk/emo, synthie pop and indie rock. There are hints to bands/artists like DEPECHE MODE, U 2 and PRINCE and probably many others I'm not aware of and actually even don't want to be. Two or three songs like "Take A Bow" and "City Of Delusion" are at least moderately enjoyable offering a very slight resemblance to metal prog at times. Many reviewers name "Knights of Cydonia" as a great song but I would call it just a rather good one nice for 1 or 2 spins before it starts becoming boring. Admittedly I listened only once to this album (not sure yet whether I should give it another spin), but honestly I don't think that more repeats are necessary for enabling me to rate this work. To be called as still good (just at the border and in the context of PROG RELATED) and possibly useful as a "Young people's guide to more advanced music"!

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Send comments to hdfisch (BETA) | Report this review (#84600) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, July 23, 2006

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Corrupt, you're corrupt. Bring corruption to all that you touch. Behold, you'll behold. And behold them for all that you've done." - Take a Bow As an impact of my recent involvement in a rock music organization which was just recently established - we named it as i-Rock!, my musical horizon expanded as I deal with people who are much younger than me. So, I was encouraged to have some try of much modern kind of rock music like Coldplay, System of a Down, My Chemical Romance, Pearl Jam, REM,etc. Well .. a lot actually. I tried some of them and like Coldplay is OK with me because I think Marillion Marbles is similar like Coldplay. I realized that in an interview Ian Mosley - Marillion's drummer - is a big fan of Coldplay. This might be why Marbles has a bit colour of Coldplay music. I even like some albums of Pearl Jam. What I'm doing is basically like Dieter Fischer who was checking out a couple of modern bands. Oh yes, I learn that enjoying other kinds of music would definitely enrich my knowledge and equip me better as a prog reviewer. As I said when reviewing Muse previous album "Absolution", this is the music for my son and I intentionally purchased it for him. I spin many times before I finally write this review. As I know the band in a very limited period, I think this album is better than the previous one (LOL probably it's because I'm getting familiar with this kind of music now while when I wrote a review on Absolution I was like forcing myself to enjoy the kmusic). One thing for sure when I started enjoying this album I always read the sleeve notes to get the lyrics of each song and I think that is the strong point of this album: good lyrics. "Take A Bow" (4:35) kicks off the album with a full blown synthesizer-drenched music demonstrating a dragging vocal line with political lyrics. I think government officials of any country should enjoy this song while reading the lyrical verse. "Death, you bring death. And destruction to all that you touch. Pay, you must pay. You must pay for your crimes against the earth. Hate, feed the hate. Feed the hate of the country you love.." - with this kind of lyrics, needless to say how powerful the lyrics. The music is a combination of space and new age styles.

"Starlight" (3:59) takes the new age style much more obvious. When I say it's a new age style it's the kind of music Robert Miles plays. This song also reminds me to 80's bands like Ultravox, Alphaville, Orchestral Maneuver In The Dark, etc. blended with Radiohead. Lyrically this song tals about science fiction : black holes and revelations.

"Supermassive Black Hole" (3:28) brings an upbeat music with programmed or electronic drumming and manipulated singing style (not using the original voice). The rhythm section is something that sounds like soft riffs which combines guitar, keyboard / synthesizer and electronic drumming. Definitely, this song is very accessible to many ears.

"Map Of The Problematique" (4:17) starts with a bit distorted guitar sounds followed with new age music typical kind of music that Robert Miles plays. The only difference is that this Muse version includes vocal line which is done in a dragging style. You might consider this music with spacey-cosmic nuance in similar nature with those recorded by pop group Alphaphille. The only difference is that probably the short insert which shows repeated drum (electronic) beats in the middle of the track.

I consider that "Soldier's Poem" (2:03) is the band's naughty exploration to a weird (?) combination of oldies music (something which resembles a song that starts with a lyrical part like "Willingly ..." - well I cannot remember well who sung this oldies song of the 60/70 - it could be Matt Monro, Andy Williams, or Tom Jones?) with serious political lyrics showing an anger to Government who send soldiers to war. Musically, it sounds like a humor to me because I can get the oldies nuance as well as Queen's typical choral section. But, lyrically it's a serious song "How could you send us so far away from home when you know damn well that this is wrong.".

"Invincible" (4:59) starts with ambient sounds of synthesizer, howling guitar followed with "fills" and marching drum mixed softly at the background. This might picture the nuance of a war. Vocal enters in dragging style (as usual). The guitar (or synthesizer?) short solo before the drum beats roll into the music is nice.

"Assassin" (3:29) is truly an upbeat music that reminds me to Dream Theater's "Never Enough". Well .. as you know it that this Dream Theater's song was directly influenced by Muse "Absolution" album. But this "Assassin" really reminds me to "Never Enough" because I get used to Octavarium album already. It's probably Muse' answer to Dream Theater's heavily influenced by Muse music in "Never Enough". I like this song very much especially with its fast tempo, rocking style (with modern sounds, of course) and good music riffs.You might sense that this song is also influenced by Queen.

"Exo-Politics" (3:52) is to me like a new-wave song with firm drum beats and dragging singing style. Most people would definitely enjoy the beats and riffs of this song. I like the cosmic synthesizer at the background. This song is accessible to those who rock! I especially like the chorus part "I am waiting patiently. I'll wait for the sign" and it's followed with short guitar solo. Very nice and it's rocking!

"City Of Delusion" (4:47) gives a flamenco nuance at the opening especially with the use f acoustic guitar rhythm to accompany the vocal line. What's so interesting is the insert of synthesizer sounds which resemble the eastern music nuance, combined with good guitar rhythm and synthesizer effects. There is also trumpet work in the middle of the track. Brilliant! I do enjoy this track.

"Hoodoo" (3:42) starts differently with guitar solo followed with low register vocal line - which makes this song is different compared to other tracks. It's a mellow opening. The singing style is similar to Thom Yorke of Radiohead. After lyrical verse which says "Why ..wy is this crisis in your eyes .." the music moves suddenly into higher register notes with "Come to be how did it come to be ...". Oh, I consider this as prog song even though the structure is straightforward, but it has richness in music textures.

"Knights Of Cydonia" (6:04) brings the album into fast tempo music, upbeat style exploring the synthesizer sounds and drum beats (mixed modernly so t sounds like an electric drumming). The music flows naturally and it has an energetic style. The choir line in the middle is nice and powerful with background music using a mixed of textures combining Pink Floyd, Robert Miles, Radiohead and classic rock guitar riffs (mixed in modern sounds). It's a cool music ...

"Glorious" (4:38) is not available from my CD - it's probably a bonus track which I'm sure it's another excellent track.

Well .. well guys ... how should I conclude this album? If you happened to read the above long review, you might expect me to give at least four stars. Indeed you are right even though I once in doubt because most likely the readers of this site coming from "Old School" of prog music - those who adore Pink Floyd, Genesis, King Crimson, ELP and the like as "true" prog music and consider the rest is "not" prog. I can consider myself into that box of category - sometime. But, when I think deeply on how the music of Muse "Black Holes and Revelations" flows naturally into my ears and it sends acceptance signal into my mind and at the end it truly stirs my emotion, I then come back to my simple definition of music: "Music is emotion" - so, this album really rules me! That's why, without any doubt at all I give my full four stars rating for this album - regardless this is prog or not. Who does care, actually ...? Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Posted Thursday, July 27, 2006

Review by evenless
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars MUSE - Black Holes And Revelations

According to the definition of progressive rock "prog" is an ambitious, eclectic, and often grandiose style of rock music. Progressive rock bands try to "progress" rock music to the point that it could achieve the sophistication of jazz or classical music. It is admired by its fans for its complexity, requiring a high level of musical virtuosity to perform.

Revering to this definition I don't think MUSE is a progressive rock band. I even doubt if their music is prog-related. Their music seems to be a bit in the middle of rock and pop. It is like they are not sure whether to be a commercial pop band like "MAROON5" scoring hits on your local radio and MTV or whether they want to be taken seriously as a big rock band like U2.

This mixture of pop and rock might lead to the idea that they make progressive music, but I seriously doubt that. I don't think their compositions are very complex or sophisticated at all. Having said that, I still think they make quite enjoyable music. MUSE seems to mix rock instruments with some computer generated sounds. Together with the distinct voice of Matthew Bellamy I think they have quite an authentic sound which makes them really "MUSE". Not a bad album on itself, but definitely not an album anyone will remember in ten years from now either.

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Posted Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Review by semismart
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars If you are wondering if Muse's fourth studio album - Black Holes and Revelations is good, let me assure you, it is not only good, it's bloody well GREAT.

I thank my son for turning me on to Muse. Honestly, they are about the only thing musically that we have agreed upon recently. We used to have some common likes in the nineties but both traveled different roads in Y2K, he going the Hip Hop route and I heading to Europe for a dose of Femme and Symphonic Metal.

Muse of course, is neither, although they are European (UK). In the case of Black Holes and Revelations, their music is so wildly varied it defies labeling. From the angelic, harpy sounding, bombastic lead song - "Take a Bow," to the catchy rock song with piano and a strong beat - "Starlight," to the funky bass driven sound and high pitched falsetto vocal of Matt Bellamy - "Supermassive Black Hole," one might suspect they were listening to three separate bands.

Following songs like the complex, involved - "Map of the Problematique," the short but sweet slow ballad - "Soldier's Poem," the spacey Floydish slow paced, building toward a crescendo - "Invincible," to the speedy guitar driven - "Assassin," would only reinforce the feeling of different bands playing different music but sharing the same lead singer.

"Exo-Politics," a medium speed, percussion led rock number, is followed by the wonderfully complex flamenco sounding, "City of Delusion." The flamenco influence continues in, "Hoodoo," but is interrupted by a strong classical and operatic intrusion of piano and vocals. The last song, "Knights of Cydonia," is a kaleidoscope of interesting sounds and Queenesque vocal harmonies, set to a galloping beat. It is close, but this gets my vote for best song.

Conclusion

It took four long years for the band to come up with a follow-up to there hit album, Absolution, but the wait was worth it. In my estimation, they not only equaled Absolution with Black Holes and Revelations but eclipsed it.

When listening to Muse I cannot help but make comparisons to the mega band of the eighties and nineties - Queen. Yes, there are definite similarities to that wondrous band: diverse, eclectic song writing, ranging from the simplistic to the grandiose; style and delivery are in many cases similar to Queen; composition and arrangements also resemble Queen and lastly their vocals and harmonizing again, remind me of Queen. Yet, with all the similarities they are so different. Yes they remind me of Queen but I didn't say the sound like Queen. Maybe a little here and there but overall, they're Muse.

Until now my favorite Muse album was Origin of Symmetry. I doubt whether I will get Black Holes and Revelations out of my Cd player for awhile. It's not the kind of album that gets old very fast - five stars.

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Posted Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Review by TRoTZ
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars With Black Holes and Revelations, Muse changed a bit their direction, after the acclaimed Absolution. The album is far more cohesive, functioning as a concept album, with a start, a development and one end. Muse are capable of transforming a bunch of good songs into a glorious trip, an energetic and glorious epic feeling, with traces of space-rock and sophisticated electronic, one of the kind almost majestically and compelling enough to grab us from our comfortable, quiet seat to start a new era, a new Humankind. They achieved to make a intelligently quite unique sonority, though owing some of their aesthetics to the masters of sonic rock energy, Queen.

The band was clever to know the way to progress in their sound, incorporating more electronics. The album opens with the glorious "Take a Bow", reminiscent of post-rock and certainly an excellent way to open an album. The song progresses, in a haunting crescendo way, from a quiet whisper and their characteristic psychic arpeggios, to a hypnotic space chaos ending, as Bellamy takes it into political direction. The album gets further with a more simple approach, with the incisive ballad "Starlight" and the space-robot-like "Supermassive Black Hole". Space-dance-driven music gets its peak with "Map of problematique", the most electronic of the badge, while "Assassin" is the rockiest, as the band answers to Dream Theater's plagiarism in their latest album. "Invencible" shows the band's sensibility, evoked on the felt guitar introduction and the great epic solo. The album ends epically with the inspired "Knights of Cydonia", perhaps the best of the album, an energetic song decomposed in three structures whilst Bellamy gives the final effort to change a resigned society "No one's gonna take me alive, Time has come to make things right, You and I must fight for our rights... You and I must fight to survive!".

There is no band who gives so much power and passion, in the meddles of a space-epic way. They had the cleverness of making, in a way which could please the mainstream masses, a completely different album. A 45 minutes epic.

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Posted Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Review by Moatilliatta
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Upon hearing the piloting single for Black Holes and Revelations, "Supermassive Black Hole," many fans were considerably puzzled by what Muse had put forth and what they should be expecting for the rest of the album. While the band should get some credit for trying new things, the song was a bizarre Price meets Fatboy Slim experience that surely would throw anybody who had expectations off. It was different, it was fun, but was it what they wanted to hear? Not really. Concerned fans who may have gone searching for something, anything else off of the album to relieve their dismay probably came across the second single, "Knights of Cydonia," which turned out to be a six minute proggy masterpiece, definitely enough to satiate any fans need to clarify how the album was going to be. Though it too had some ideas that we haven't quite heard from them before, it retained more of the sound that fans were looking for. It went from a medium paced, western themed spacey first part (interesting combo ay?) to a super high mulity-vocal harmony (done acapella) followed by a flat-out awesome rocking end which later reintroduced the vocal line from prior on top of it which created a mesmerising end. Any skeptics could be sure that whatever it was they were doing, it was worth hearing.

So, what was the rest of the album like? Well, track one, "Take a Bow" shows the band bringing the synths to the foreground, a fresh trend throughout much of the album. They generate an entirely new atmosphere to the bands music and they are used vey effacaciously. This track is an obvious political statement and there should be no question as to who it's directed at. While I generally do not fancy those lyrics, the song itself is quite cool. Next track, "Starlight," is a very, very good pop song. Muses creativity and Bellamy's huge, extremely capable voice make what would be an ordinary song a great song here. This one is followed by "Supermassive Black Hole," which is admittedly much better when listened to among the rest of the album. Then we have another more simple song made incredible in "Map of the Problematique." From here we have Queen-esque vocal harmnized acoustic guitar balled in "Soldier's Poem," followed by the inspirational "Invincible." It is at this point that Muse really start rocking. "Assassin" is a relatively fast-paced thrashy rocker, borderline metal guitars lead this one, until Bellamy's voice takes over of course. I would have to mention that the vocals are supreme as they always have been, but the presentation and sound of the vocals, and the band as a whole has never sounded better. This album is powerful and captivating in atmosphere and in melody. "Exo-Politics" is a slower yet heavy piece. "City of Delusion" will really get you in all of its splendor. There is a hispanic feel to this one during the verses, an orchestral arrangement and even a trumpet solo. The chorus explodes with such force. This is one of the rare examples of Muse really expanding heir territory influence wise and not just improving on their firm-founded sound. Other than one part in the middle, "Hoodoo" is a very atmospheric piece, and is really the only piece on the album that we can compare them to Radiohead - an inescapable comparison up until this point. And then "Knights of Cydonia" brings this one home.

Muse have finally come into their own with this one. They can finally break free of that binding Radiohead comparison [for the most part]. These songs sound huge, and it's easily the bands best output yet. 4.5 stars

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Posted Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Review by imoeng
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Black Holes and Revelations

Black Holes and Revelations is my second album from Muse after I was introduced to the Absolution album. A quite important moment because by the time you start to recognise a new band, the first album you buy is very important, because then you know what kind of band it is. Well when I listened to songs in Absolution, rock band, alternative, possibly Brit kind of band crossed my mind. When I said rock, I mean real hard rock band.

That is why Black Holes and Revelations suits my ear really well, because it offers what I expect from Muse's songs. As a comparison to Absolution, the songs in this album present nice emotion and the songs are heavy too, with cool instrumentation. The difference, which I don't really like, is Muse used more sound effects and experimentations in this album, although it made this album quite unique.

Honestly I was quite disappointed when I listened to this album for the first time. As usual, I always listen to an album from track one to the last track consecutively, so I can grab the emotion of the album. I like the first track, it gives me a nice feeling of the album. The second track is also a very nice song, quite heavy and I could hear the main line of the album, "Black holes and revelations". However, the third song disappointed me, because it hardly has any heavy rock element. Since the beginning of the song, Muse used some sort of sound effect, without any rock element. At that moment, I stopped listening to the album for awhile. But the other tracks are cool, at least they are cooler than Supermassive Black Hole. The offer a very good element of rock, and some of them have very cool solos with nice drum fills, just like the song Invincible (track 6), for example.

The only thing I like least from this album is the experiments and sound effects that they did. Heavy songs in Absolution did 150% for me, and I love every single one of them. While in Black Holes and Revelations, some songs do not have it all. Nonetheless it is a very good album and is worth-buying. I gave Absolution four stars and I like it more than this album, but three stars will not reflect this album the way it is, so I will give four stars as well. If you like Absolution the you will like this.

Take a bow - Imoeng

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Posted Saturday, February 03, 2007

Review by The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After reviewing Muse's previous album, ABSOLUTION, now I'll share a few words about their latest release, 2006's BLACK HOLES AND REVELATIONS.

Following such an incredible masterpiece is quite a difficult task for any band to fulfill. There's always the risk of the band choosing the safe path: recording an album very similar to the one heralded as their best. There's always the possibility that the musicians decide to go the other way around and release a record in a totally different style, with the risk of annoying their fans and losing what they accomplished with the preceding opus. And there's somewhat of a middle path, with the group making a few changes to their sound experience while not altering the main elements that led them to success in the first place. So, what road did Muse choose to travel on?

For sure, what we have here is an album with the traditional Muse characteristics: interesting textures, piano arpeggios and cascading figures, a mix of Brit-pop and rock with progressive elements and even some metal details here and there. The band hasn't deviated completely from the norm established in their 2003 opus-magnum. But some changes in sound have been made. The main one: the band has focused in the "pop" side of their sound a lot more than in ABSOLUTION, and has toned down their progressiveness a little bit. Sonically, the experience is still Muse, but even more accessible, more radio-ready. Attention. This is still great music, great rock music, if less "proggy" and more "poppy" than before.

Take A Bow (8/10) We think we're on a small one-engine airplane traveling across clouds and skies. Then we arrive to an electronica oasis, the mood gets heavier. The atmosphere gets more technified, from an insignificant 1920's airplane we've jumped to the outer limits of the sky. This song signals the start of a journey, one that will lead us to unexpected places. Good song.

Starlight (9/10) We are in pure pop/rock territory now. A simple, Brit-pop rhythm adorned with efficient, seducing piano chords. An optimistic song, there's no way around it. Even with Bellamy's dramatic voice going over it, there's no alternative but to wait for the better after this song, which again takes us to the skies with a bridge full of flying, oscillating notes. A very good song.

Supermassive Black Hole (8/10) A fast, grooving rhythm opens the song. We're reminded of Weiland here. Then the vocals in falsetto fashion, with some Prince flavor to them. This is almost pure pop. But that doesn't mean it's bad, and is actually good.

Map Of The Problematique (9.5/10) The start is pure pop/new-age bliss, a techno-like rhythm and some fleeting piano chords here and there. The song continues to grow in its seductive power and by the time the ultra-pop pop arrives, we don't care anymore about the need for extreme progressive elements, as we've already realized we're listening to excellent music nevertheless. Great track.

Soldier's Poem (7/10) Suddenly we're in the 60's, with a super soft, quiet, whispering little tune that reminds us of songs that have nothing to do with rock as "A wonderful world". Halfway down the track we hear the vocal harmonies that got many people comparing this to Queen. A decent track, not my favorite.

Invincible (6.5/10) Another soaring, over-the-clouds beginning, with flying notes in guitar over a marching snare drum. Another happy track, a little repetitive for me. Near the end we hear a riff much reminiscent of "Hysteria" in ABSOLUTION, then we hear a weird guitar solo, and soon the song will be over. The two latter elements I mentioned save this song from getting the first "boring" label from me for any Muse track.

Assassin (8/10) This starts with one of those riffs that Muse surely knows how to pull off and that remind us of DT in OCTAVARIUM. The chorus is good but no match for the best song Muse has ever produced, "Stockholm Syndrome", nor for the best on this album, which is still to come.

Exo-Politics (8.5/10) A somewhat weird, cut-down theme strikes us as very absurd, and then it grows into a more rocky, energetic song. Then the chorus arrives and we are in Muse's Palace of Delights again. One of those dramatic choruses that this band played to perfection in the previous output. The first section of the song is not much to my liking, so it takes away from what could've been a superb track.

City Of Delusion (10/10) We've been waiting for this album's "Stockholm Syndrome" and finally it's arrived (though not near the level of magnificence of that song). A rhythmical, Spanish-flavored acoustic start followed by an energetic middle section and a truly spectacular chorus, with pure drama, kinetic energy, suffering, lamenting strings and frenetic drums. The song explores different territories and is the not only the most progressive but also the best in the album (one thing doesn't necessarily lead to the other, but in this case, it did.)

Hoodoo (9/10) Some flamenco-painted guitars, but not acoustic guitars, kick off this song in style. It starts very slowly, sounding a lot like Radiohead. It gets more dreamy, more foggy. Halfway down the track we get to a section when the piano makes its much-expected reappearance with powerful, tragic chords. A theatre, that's where this song takes us to, a stage where passion, love, hate and drama is portrayed. Excellent.

Knights Of Cydonia (9.5/10) For a moment we're in western-territory. We turn our head looking for the gunfighter. Then the main section blasts off with pure energy, the force of a thousand horses. Some trumpets and weird effects join in the charge of the Knights. The middle section is almost epic in nature, heroic, this is an unusual track for Muse, a band full of unusual stuff. From Purple to Floyd, the band surely shows they've heard a lot of different music, and that's the only recipe for becoming a good musician.

As a final word, let's say Muse's BLACK HOLES AND REVELATIONS fails to live-up to the quality of its predecessor, but then again, that was most surely an almost impossible goal to achieve. What the British trio has done here is taking the same formula, incorporated more pop elements in their sonic experience, tone-down their riffs a little, and deliver a quite satisfactory collection of light, optimistic, accessible songs. What we miss a little bit is the drama, the sense of theatricality, and most of all, the powerful piano chords of ABSOLUTION. What made that album a masterpiece is not completely absent here, but relatively more scarce, difficult to find.

A 4 star album anyway, worthy of addition to any collection. If this wasn't a prog site, maybe I'd kick the rating a notch, to a 4.5. But whereas in ABSOLUTION the songs were so good that we could evade the prog-obligation and gave the album a 5, here we have to settle for the imperfect rating, as we have a couple not-so-good tracks to speak of.

Recommended for: Fans of light prog; fans of Brit-pop/rock and rock in general; fans of pop/rock.

Not recommended for: Fans of ultra-progressive rock; people that just dislike any hint of pop in their rock. This album has quite a truck-load of those. And fans of Muse that think they will be getting ABSOLUTION Part II.

.I think such an album is just impossible to follow.

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Posted Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
3 stars After the very impressive and progressive but rather out-of-character Absolution, was Muse further their adventurous musical investigation past their last album. Unfortunately, Bellamy, Howard and Wolstenholme did not choose that direction, but rather opting to return to the usual formula of Origin Of Symmetry. In that regard the Thorgesson-like artwork is rather deceiving.

Right from the opening track Take a bow, the binary rhythm warns you that whatever was so pleasing in Absolution is not going to be as prominent. Muse still sounds typically Muse though, which means a savant mix of Radiohead, U2 and REM, and if they haven't exactly invented hot water, they do sound entertaining enough to last at least half the album without tiring this listener. However, the bombardment of the same type of sound and repetitive tunes is rather wearisome, and I haven't been able to stand more than 20 minutes at a time, which coincides with half the album, one of the pleasant surprises is that this album turns around the ideal album-length.

If the short Soldier's Poem has a tiny Mercury/Queen vocal twinge, the would-be title track (it mentions the album title in the chorus) Starlight is probably the best track around along with Invincible and the Motorhead-like opening riff of Assassin. Also worthy of notice is Exo-politics. But the major setback I found is that the fantastic Rachmaninov piano (enlightening so joyously Absolution) is completely absent, but is partly made-up by the rather frantic drumming. A few ethnic lines (first Arabian then Conquistador-like) are spread in City Of Delusion (as-well as a slight-flamenco bass line in Hoodoo), do not make this album progressive especially given that a lot of Porcupine Trees influences have disappeared.

Unfortunately, what provided an excellent surprise (Absolution, will also likely be an exception, because Bellamy 1 Co have decided to return to their formulaic "alternative" rock that had created their original success in the first place. Thus ending all hopes for progheads to move their PA entry to a full-blown progressive category. While a deception for this writer, this album will likely please most of the band's numerous fans

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Posted Sunday, April 29, 2007

Review by el böthy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3,5 really... but more of a 3 than a 4

So, Muse took 3 years from their previous album, the very successful and masterpiece of modern music, Absolution and the wait might have been a bit too long, but the result is quite nice, so I don't complain. Black holes and Revelations shows us a band, that already peaked but does not sleep in their achievements because of that. so what did they do? They changed (just a bit. what do you expect, Crimson.?) their sound and approach, making some very poppy, yet great tunes (Starlight, Invincible) while throwing some bizarre pomp rock here and there (Take a bow, Supermassive black hole, Knights of Cydonia) and everything in between with a quasi metal tune like Assassin, to the Mexican sounding City of Delusion. that even counts with a trumpet solo. From all this I must say the best ones are the first 5 mentioned songs, those are the poppy ones and the pomp rockers, which are also their proggiest ones. Sadly there are also some weak tracks. Soldier's poem, a short track that consists basically of Bellamy singing while he plays some simple guitar is not very memorable, seems like a filler to be honest. Exo-Politics well could be a track that did not get into Absolution, and rightfully so. Hoodoo is also quite weak, it takes some time to get somewhere, and by the time it reaches that point it's no longer interesting. Overall it's a great album, more if you listen to it keeping in mind that this is NOT a prog album and that this is NOT a prog band, there are some proggy splashes here and there, but not many, in fact even less and those in Absolution

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Posted Thursday, May 03, 2007

Review by Menswear
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Entertaining.

This album convinced me of one thing: Muse will reach many people and certainly more girls with that album. There's so much hooks in terms of melody in this album! Every song has a riff, a voice effect or a keyboard line that will catch your attention...in a british pop way. Even if they hardened their sound (again), Muse is to me a commercial band with an 'anti-clique' attitude, just like Radiohead in the 90's. Oh, they're going to be big, that's for sure, but they won't show that they like it...Muse is heading towards FM stations with at least 5 titles (tracks 2,3,4,9,11) with a blend of Queen (backing vocals), Radiohead (lead vocals) and Ayreon (guitars and keyboards).

This record is a clear marketing move of being nu-metal with a bleeding heart. The songs are catchy as mentionned, but they still have those same emo-teenage-boo-hoo lyrics and vocals that bugged me so much in the first album. Whatever their sins, Muse are exceptionnally good musicians that rocks hard and steady in the drums and guitars sections, so have your toupet well glued in certain tracks.

A nice and entertaining but very commercial album with a lot of snappy tunes and emotive appeal.

Be sure to watch a lot of teenage girlie girls with a Muse T-shirt this summer.

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Posted Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars It took almost three years to Muse to produce a new studio release after their excellent "Absolution" album (five stars on my scale). What has changed in the meantime ? Well, lots of things.

"Muse" has reached stardom, they have extensively toured and won an impressive number of awards not only in Britain but throughout Europe. They are almost top of the bill in the major summer festivals and they are really awesome on stage (I've seen them once). So, "Muse" is doing well on all front, thank you.

With the opening number, it seems to me that they try to recreate "Absolution". The intro of "Take A Bow" is somewhat similar to "Apocalypse". A great way to start an album. But I wouldn't be as positive for most of the songs of this album. The album starts very powerfully with a very good trio of songs, even if "Supermassive Black Hole" has a surprisingly funky mood.

"Soldier's Poem" is another melancholic ballads a la "Unintended" (one more). It is definitely not that side of the band I like the best and unlike "Santana" who has reproduced at least ten times the great "Samba Pa' Ti" with inspiration (maybe one blunder) , "Muse" do not succeed in doing so here. I'm as well very reluctant in applauding blindly a song like "Invisible". A bit boring (except for the last minute).

Another couple of good and vigourous numbers with "Assassin" and "Exo-Politics".

With the notioceable exception of "Absolution" which was a strong album from start to finish, "Muse" 's records were far much less interesting during the last few numbers. So, what about "Black Holes" ?

Well "City" has its ups and down. Actually the ups are there when the downs aren't. The addition of orchestration reminding some Oriental mood is not really my cup of tea. The Spanish guitar intro for "Hoodoo" is interesting, but the song takes a while to lift off; again the orchestration is a bit too much.

The longest track of this album "Knights Of Cydonia" with his house beat is a track too much for most of it. Once you have passed the long and boring intro (over two minutes ) it's getting better, but still nothing great I'm afraid. It sounds completely outdated and only the last part of the song is appealing to my ears.

Don't expect too much of the bonus track, a long instrumental intro (over a minute) leads to an average "Muse" song. But to me it sounds pretty much as a draft song, that would have needed to be polished. Rather raw material.

I quite like the remark form "Hdfish" which says that : "it is useful as a "Young people's guide to more advanced music"! I could notice this with my seventeen years-old boy who is, unfortunately for me, completely into rap & associated and who asked me my all "Muse" catalogue (as well as Placebo and the Cranberries) to copy onto his PC. At least, some good music there now.

My opinion about this album, is that we are in front of a good rock album (forget the prog here), but not a great "Muse" one. This won't affect the album sales since it will sell some two-three million copies). Three stars.

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Posted Thursday, June 07, 2007

Review by Melomaniac
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars On the heels of their most accomplished AND successful record (Absolution), Muse return with Black Holes and Revelations, their fourth offering. And while the album has it's share of very good moments, it probably is Muse's least consistent and interesting album thus far.

We find the Muse sound very much intact in the first song, Take a Bow. Their trademark arppeggiated keyboards are here in full swing (and even a bit too much in the crescendo movement that precedes the rythmic section's arrival in the song), while Bellamy meanders along in an almost monotonous way, until the whole band explodes. A weird song to start an album, but still good.

The following song Starlight is among my less favorite songs from BHAR. It sounds as if it was clearly written and produced with the intention of making a single out of it (which is probably the case), and even though Bellamy offers beautiful vocal melodies, the song comes through as ordinary, benign. If I want to hear some Coldplay or U2, I'll listen to them, not Muse.

During the first few listens, I was in shock due to Supermassive Black Hole. It sounds nothing like Muse. yet I learned to appreciate it with time. It has a repetitive yet catchy and simple main riff, and interesting vocal lines during the chorus. As for the verses, I remember reading a review on this very site saying how much Bellamy sounds like Prince. the guy was right. Imagine a song like Kiss from Prince, only with more balls. So another single, but far more interesting. and, well, sexy.

Being a Depeche Mode fan of old, I could not help but love Map of the Problematique. In some ways it reminds me a lot of Enjoy the Silence (from DM's excellent Violator), and vocally, the melody and the way it is built always reminds me of (ready for this???) Donna Summer's I Feel Love. So nothing really prog, but enthralling nonetheless. The song is very well produced, having a distorted bass line supported by a drum beat mainly focusing on toms and floors. Again, Bellamy's melodies are superb. Come to think of it, the vocals are definitely the album's point of interest, at least to me.

Soldier's Poem comes next. A picturesque short song, it sounds as if it was written in Hill Valley on November 5th, 1955 (for those of you not getting the pun, I am referring to a certain scene in Back to the Future pt.I, when Marty MacFly arrives in downtown Hill Valley for the first time after his trip through time, and we can hear the song Mr.Sandman coming from the gas station, and I think this song has the same mood). Only the lyrics don't fit at all with the mood the song conveys. Not quite a miss, but certainly not a hit.

Another single comes along in the form of Invincible. Again, this is not really Muse, except for the short instrumental (which is so short and different than the rest of the song it feels out of place) and Bellamy's guitar solo (a melodic version of Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello, at least when it comes to solos). It's not a song I hate, but not one I love either. Rather forgettable.

Exo-Politics is another song caught in nowhere land : neither hit nor miss. An unmemorable song altogether with nothing whatsoever to capture my interest and maintain it.

Then comes one of the album's two strongest songs, and not a moment too soon (this is, after all, track 9!!!) : City of Delusion. Starting unexpectedly with acoustic guitars and complete with string sections and a spanish-flavored trumpet solo, this is a breathtaking moment on an otherwise ordinary album. It brings Butterflies and Hurricanes from Absolution to mind. Great song.

Along come Hoodoo, a hauntingly melancholic and depressing number (I had recurring nightmares that I was loved for who I was, but missed the opportunity). Short, mellow, beautiful. Reminiscent of Blackout from Absolution.

Album closer (Glorious is not included on the North American version of the album) Knights of Cydonia has all the makings of a Muse classic, at least to all us prog fans. And it's fun too ! The first part sounds like a spegetti western soundtrack done ā la Muse, while the second half of the song just flat out rocks. It contains one of those riffs you just want to break your neck to headbanging. This riff could have easily fitted in a Rage Against the Machine song, it is that aggressive and Bellamy's guitar has a similar tone.

So like I said earlier, this is easily Muse's least interesting album, at least from a prog point of view. Fans of more mainstream music will undoubtedly like it, but Muse has raised the bar for us in a short 4 album career so far, and on the strength of their previous releases, Black Holes and Revelations doesn't come across as a revelation. Let us hope it is not the first of a series of albums that will plunge this band in a black hole.

I give Black Holes and Revelations 3 stars on the strength of the good songs included and the quality of Bellamy's vocal delivery.

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Posted Thursday, September 06, 2007

Review by russellk
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars A masterpiece of popular music from the gunslingers of rock.

MUSE rip out an album of high-octane tunes powered by enough energy to light up northern Europe. Not since QUEEN in the 1970s have I heard a popular band with the sheer raw power to make their tunes come alive and the FREDDY MERCURY-style self-confidence to bring them off. Anyone who enjoys drama in their music, who is captivated by the theatrical and the pompous, ought to order this album immediately. I repeat: for me, QUEEN is the touchstone for MUSE.

'Take a Bow' begins quietly enough, accusatory anti-politician lyrics backed by synth arpeggios, then someone turns the volume to 11 and the dark chords come crashing in. This opener is a marvel, spitting sarcasm and invective at the high and mighty with such passion that if I was a bent pollie I'd confess immediately. This is prog-coloured. It's not a pop song, or even standard rock. It comes to a roaring climax, then fades out on distortion. Whew! What are we in for?

As soon as 'Starlight' begins I can imagine progheads yelling 'Pop! Pop!' If they'd spend a little less time categorising and a little more time enjoying, we'd probably have fewer of those interminable debates here on ProgArchives. We'd also avoid those unhelpful reviews - you know the type: 'it's pop, so I have to take two stars off' - as though the Prog-Related category isn't enough to help us decide what the rating means. It sounds a bit like OMD's 'Souvenir' to me, a lovely tinkly tune introducing lyrics remarkably similar in structure (if not meaning) to the opening song. This is a great track, and I don't care what pigeonhole you insist it belongs in.

'Supermassive Black Hole' takes us in a third direction, with BELLAMY leaning on his falsetto in a PRINCE-like performance, all the while thundering percussion and the greasiest of cowboy western guitar riffs rips across the speakers. 'Oooh, baby,' BELLAMY croons. I agree. We're now in 'Absolution' territory, one outstanding song after another. Here's the fourth: 'Map of the Problematique' is the first to hark back to previous MUSE incarnations, and again it's no misfire. QUEEN never gave us this much class on any one of their albums.

'Soldier's Poem' takes the QUEEN comparison past similarity of intent and energy and into similarity of sound: BELLAMY's multitracked falsetto is so reminiscent of MERCURY you know it has to be deliberate. Five more great tracks follow, in turn spacy, racy and pacy, each worthy of comment, with 'Assassin' (more monolithic guitar riffage) and 'Exo-Politics' (great beat, guitar - and is that a saw I hear being played?) being the most straightforward and best of them.

And then.

'Knights of Cydonia' is a true prog classic. In six minutes MUSE deliver an inarguable justification for their inclusion here. They reveal themselves as the logical inheritors of SERGIO LEONE's mantle as purveyors of the spaghetti western. Spaceships and cowboys, zap-guns and horses precede a stellar guitar riff straight from ENNIO MORRICONE''s movie file. How can anyone not fall helplessly in love with this? It's so outrageously kitsch! Kudos to these three young men for having the big round ones to write something like this - as revolutionary as 'Bohemian Rhapsody' was to QUEEN and just as important in rock's canon. Speaking of QUEEN, the final chorus is pure camp. Everything prog rock ought to be is right here. And, to my delight, the video is almost exactly how I imagined the track to be - a punk-western sci-fi piss-take. How can the world be a bad place when people do stuff like this? This is five stars on its own.

I'm off to see them live in six weeks' time. Can't wait! Along with THE MARS VOLTA, this is the best high-energy band you'll hear on contemporary radio's airwaves. Completely reckless, over-the-top, outrageous music. Shut off your brain and open your ears!

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Posted Saturday, October 06, 2007

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
4 stars Black Holes And Revelations is an excellent Muse album. The melodies and hooks are devestatingly catchy and have stayed with me ever since I first heard this great album. The vocals are absolutely brilliant throughout and Muse implement an intricate blend of guitars and keyboards to masterfully produce radio friendly songs that still maintain that prog edge. Highlights include Starlight, Supermassive Black Hole, Invincible, Assassin, and the wonderful mini epic Knights Of Cydonia. Knights starts off with a strange horse whinny effect and then Tarantino style Pulp Fictionesque guitars begin to chugg. Like a Western from another planet, its an absolute Muse classic.

Someone hooked me onto this band and I have adored their music on all of their albums. This is one of their best albums and one with tracks that will remain fan favourites for years to come. The songs have a tendency to hook into you and they are so well crafted that they never bore the listener, some are absolutely amazing technical masterpieces.

Well worth getting this album from one of the most ferociously original band in years.

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Posted Saturday, August 02, 2008

Review by MovingPictures07
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This is definitely Muse's best album and is one hell of a good one. It is not directly prog, hence the sub-genre, but is quite bombastic, well-played and composed, and unique.

1. Take a Bow- Starting out with an intriguing keyboard part, this song increasingly makes use of that and Bellamy's vocals, then building into a climax when other instruments come in and show you a pretty good typical Muse song. This song is a bit proggy, especially during the very odd yet neat sounding keyboard segment of the song after it builds. Definitely more than your average modern rock song. 8/10

2. Starlight- Wonderful song, one of my favorites from Muse (if not my favorite). It was a hit/single, and it has a decently straightforward structure. The overall atmosphere to it, however, is incredibly enjoyable. Try not liking this one! Bellamy's vocals and instrumentation are great, and the rest of the band is up to considerable par. This is really an extremely well-crafted song and I can't find any fault with it other than the fact that it's not particularly groundbreaking (though that's not why you would listen to Muse). Second best song on here other than Knights. 9/10

3. Supermassive Black Hole- Interesting experiment here, almost bordering very pop-like vocals and structure here. This song was even more of a hit than the previous one, and god help me, I enjoy it. It certainly is a good song, but not one of their best, despite my enjoyment. Solid song, nothing else. 7/10

4. Map of the Problematique- My thoughts on this song are similar to the previous one, although both songs aren't too similar other than being Muse songs. This one is again not the most proggy song, but it is a good rock song. Good drums, vocals, keyboards, bass, as usual. 6/10

5. Soldier's Poem- Great acoustic and vocal interlude. It really sets a good atmosphere up and still flows on the album. It isn't groundbreaking at all, just pleasant. The vocals here are especially neat. 6/10

6. Invincible- Here we go. Now this is a hell of a song. Good entry vocals and marching drums, and the mood is perfect. I love when the guitar parts come in a very distant tone and give a soaring indomitable feel to the song, which fits it perfectly. Together we're invincible! Very moving song, and it builds perfectly once more. 9/10

7. Assassin- Proggier song once more, and that can be discerned immediately. The opening guitar part is quite interesting and the song here is pretty good. Good rock elements while still maintaining typical Muse bombastic rock structure. It is accomplished, but it doesn't strike a chord with me especially as a few of the other songs especially have. 7/10

8. Exo-Politics- Great song again, but again, not perfect. It has good instrumentation and good songwriting as always, but it doesn't break any new boundaries nor does it really strike a special chord with me. Probably my least favorite song on here. 5/10

9. City of Delusion- Good song, with a cool acoustic opening and vocals. The way that the song unfolds again is applauded and Muse certainly is effective at churning out decent rock songs one after the other. 7/10

10. Hoodoo- Slower song that is in the vein of some of their songs on previous albums. It is pretty good, and I more so like the second half of the song where the piano and drums take a more dominant role. 6/10

11. Knights of Cydonia- This is perhaps the most proggy song on the album and Muse at their finest. This is easily their best track on this album and probably the best track they've ever recorded. The awesome intro, the commanding, galloping drums, then the extremely bizarre guitars all through the opening tell you that this one is going to be quite a ride. No faults here, this really is the epitome of what Muse is all about. I love the opening, the part when the vocals break out with the synth-guitar backing in the middle in an extremely cool mood setter, and of course the rocking guitar battle at the end. They should make more songs like this! 10/10

12. Glorious- Good track in the vein of a typical rocky bombastic Muse song. More than an average rock song easily and quite good, similar to most of the tracks on this album while still covering new ground as to not become too uninteresting. 7/10

This is a tough one to rate star-wise. It is an excellent addition to a musical collection and it's far from essential, but I'm not so sure if a progger's collection would suffer at all from not having this. Good, not essential, definitely their best album. Check this out if you want some enjoyable, wonderfully crafted prog-influenced modern rock, but this will definitely not appeal to everyone.

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Posted Saturday, November 15, 2008

Review by Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Black Holes & Revelations' - Muse (7/10)

Muse (concerning all of the other music they have done) have generally impressed me in their songwriting, and have written some pretty great songs, but I've never really felt that a really ambitious album had been made by them... until I gave 'Black Holes And Revelations' a good listen. While Muse's previous albums suffered from issues such as a lack of flow ('Showbiz') or an inconsistency in song quality ('Absolution' had a near-perfect first side, but a very mediocre second,) Muse are able to improve on past shortcomings, and make an album that is dramatic, bombastic and larger than life from start to finish.

Muse certainly do not try to bombard the listener with progressive insanity, but moreso integrate prog/innovative ideas into a more accesible sound. That's not to say that this is 'mainstream' however. It is simply a marriage of two schools of music; and there are certainly enough strange ideas in the music to keep the album fresh for many, many listens.

It's also nice to have a break in Prog where the concept of melody is held in high regard. While this attention to accessible songwriting conventions and lengths may be condemned by a 'br00tal' Prog fan, there's nothing to suffer here. Some of Muse's previous work had alot of raw noise to it (a la Alternative Rock) but here the sound is polished and refined to perfection, which is definately a nice improvement in any case.

While there isn't any 'filler' work here, there are some tracks here that are a bit of a break from the 'larger than life' atmosphere that Muse is prone to generate. The song 'Hoodoo' for example, shouldn't be considered so much as a song, than a mere extended intro or interlude before the true epic of the album, 'Knights Of Cydonia.' While some may see this as nothing more than wasted album time, it makes the flow alot better (after all, an album with solely bombastic material would get a bit boring.) In terms of flow, there is a roller coaster of sorts, going from high, energetic points ('Assassin,' 'Knights Of Cydonia') to the more laid back tracks (such as 'Soldier's Poem.)

Muse have reached their peak with this release. They have more or less corrected all of the problems in their sound, and in doing so have created an album that is catchy, yet inately intelligent and complex. 'Black Holes And Revelations' is a great piece, and a sure sign that prog is still seeping into the mainstream, whether people know it or not.

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Posted Friday, April 03, 2009

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Eclectic Prog Team
2 stars I somewhat hate that I bought this album- there just isn't much to it. The music is, for the most part, simple and uninteresting. The singer completely sounds like U2's Bono in tone, inflection, and apparent self-importance. Ladies and gentlemen, this is a pop album- there is nothing remotely progressive here, but it is not without any charm in the context of being a pop album. The final track is absent from my album, but I doubt it would do anything to change my thoughts about this.

"Take A Bow" Some intriguing keyboards begin the album. There's little variation, though, as the opener becomes something more akin to American club music.

"Starlight" Another U2-sounding piece, this song is pleasant enough, but simple and almost crying out for attention from FM radio. Still, it's the best and most memorable song on the album.

"Supermassive Black Hole" This one may as well be a commercial for any number of unrelated products. The vocals are non-stop falsetto, something a guy like Mika (a guilty pleasure of mine) could get away with, but this is just too much. The music is disgusting, a gritty mishmash of distorted guitar and robotic drums.

"Map Of The Problematique" Another U2 piece (albeit with a slightly fuller sound), including cliché lyrics ("when we bleed we all bleed the same") and nothing outstanding in terms of composition or musicianship.

"Soldier's Poem" A refreshing change of scenery, this is an acoustic piece in 6/8 with very good Queen-like vocal harmonies.

"Invincible" Marching snare drum, a gorgeously simple slide guitar, and soft vocals make up this more appealing and motivating piece. The heavier part is a bit grating, but the lead guitar over the keyboard makes for intriguing listening.

"Assassin" This is a rapid-fire piece, with heavy drumming and guitars- not much else to it.

"Exo-Politics" More like an indie-rock song (like something from a college band that's somewhat unsure of its direction), this has soft, flowing vocals and a fuzz guitar and bass spitting out a simple rhythm.

"City Of Delusion" Another welcome change of direction, this has a slight Latin flavor, with speedy acoustic guitar chords and a fitting vocal melody. For once, the bass has real personality. The trumpet adds a brilliant touch.

"Hoodoo" Surf-rock reverb blends with a Mexican rhythm cliché in the beginning that gives way to soft singing. If one track has a progressive feel or structure to it, it's this one, but that's largely because there are two distinct parts to this song.

"Knights Of Cydonia" The final track has an introduction that sounds similar to Uriah Heep, with distorted and acoustic guitar and pointless screeching. Queen-like harmonies return over a basic electronic groove. The guitar that follows is hard-hitting, but when those same harmonies return, it suddenly sounds a lot like ELO.

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Posted Saturday, September 19, 2009

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
3 stars I remember enjoying this record when it was released and have I done my review back in 2006 then it would have definitely been a lot more cheerful. With the release of Black Holes And Revelations Muse, once again, moved from the creative to the more commercial sound, still this album actually works pretty well even though the overall sound is not completely to my liking.

Take A Bow is a great album opener incorporating almost everything I like about Muse but unfortunately there isn't any more where that came from. Instead what follows are two very accessible singles Starlight and Supermassive Black Hole that do work in their own right but definitely not something that I would want to expose myself to over any longer periods of time. The latter of the two features some truly horrible lyrics even though I shamefully find the melody to be quite catchy, meaning that the band succeed in what they were perusing here.

Map Of The Problematique and Soldier's Poem are quite charming tracks that show that all hope is not lost, just when I started to fear the worst. I'm on the fence about Invincible since Muse is really trying to accomplish something worth a while here but the dragging intro section and an amateurish guitar solo take out most of the charm for me. I remember also really liking Assassin and Exo-Politics to some extend and considered them to be hold this album afloat even though the lesser material tries so hard to sink it with the offered blandness. The tracks are a lot heavier than the rest of the material and, if anything, mark a return to the sound explored on Absolution but don't expect any Heavy Metal since it's still Muse we're talking about here!

Despite not having much against the tracks towards the end of the album like City Of Delusion and Hoodoo they just never managed to leave enough impression on me in order to become anything else than another exercise in blandness. Listening to them today I can only verify this statement even though City Of Delusion is the most experimental track of the bunch I think that the band really got carried away with the layering and forgot to make a strong melodic performance, which is what Muse is actually good at. Recently I read that Hoodoo had won Q Magazine's 2009 Lyric of the year award. My response to that is that I've never even noticed the lyrics under all of the Spanish guitar sounds. The track does sound almost like a mini-opera so there might just be something there if only I felt like exploring it more closely. I recall being completely in love with Knights Of Cydonia when I heard it for the first time but those feelings didn't last too long and ever since I saw the music video for that track it really left a bad taste in my mouth that makes itself known every time I hear this track. This is quite unfortunate since Knights Of Cydonia definitely features a few fun moments that should sound even better when played in a live setting.

Even though Black Holes And Revelations isn't really a bad album somehow I feel that the next couple of Muse albums won't have anything left for me to enjoy since this release does feature a few signs of being a transition album. In this case it seems a though Muse can only go in one direction, namely further away from the band I happened to enjoy back in the day.

***** star songs: Take A Bow (4:35) Assassin (3:31)

**** star songs: Starlight (4:03) Map Of The Problematique (4:18) Soldier's Poem (2:05) Invincible (5:00) Exo-Politics (3:53) Knights Of Cydonia (6:07)

*** star songs: Supermassive Black Hole (3:29) City Of Delusion (4:48) Hoodoo (3:43)

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Posted Saturday, May 15, 2010

Review by JJLehto
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I was in the car with a friend one day, he had some intriguing music playing. When I asked him what it was he said it was the album Absolution by Muse. Never heard of Muse before and he said the only way he could describe them was "epic rock". I don't know what 2 or 3 songs I heard but I liked them enough to go out and buy and album, the record store had "Black Holes and Revelations".

I kind of regret that decision, this album now sits near the bottom of my pile. This album is the only actual CD from Muse I have so I can't compare to their overarching work. This album though has a general pop rock sound, but with pretty strong alternative rock tendencies. It has a lot of strangeness to it overall, lots of synth, and unique guitar and drum work. I can't deny that these guys are pretty good musicians, especially frontman Matt Bellamy who is quite unique and creative. However, while there are good moments in most of the songs, a lot of them are just flat out bad. I found a lot of this boring, or just unlistenable. The only songs I really like all the way through are Assassin to Knights of Cydonia. Yeah, strange how it comes in a block like that.

The rest of the album is just too difficult to make it through any songs. Bellamy's voice is filled with emotion, and sometimes he really uses that passion well. Best example I can think of is, "How can we win, when fools can be kings" as well as the "No one's gunna take me alive..." chorus, both in Knights of Cydonia. However, often his vocals just grate on me. I can't stand them. A lot of the songs are boring, or drag to much. Supermassive Black Hole seems to be one of Muse's bigger hits, but this was the most boring song on the album. Honestly, a lot of the album is just uninteresting. Flat, not much there, boring.

So while the musicianship is there, I only like 5 songs from this album out of 12. The others I really can not listen to. That leaves only one rating for this album.

Two Stars

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Posted Sunday, June 06, 2010

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Post/Math Rock Team
2 stars Ok, first off...what is with the song "Glorious"? It's not on my copy. Must only be on the Japanese version. Never heard it. Alright, I just listened to it on YouBoob. Not bad, better than half the songs on the album. If it was included I don't think I would change my rating.

The first song I heard from this album was the single "Starlight". The first few times I heard the song on the radio I didn't even recognize it as Muse! Not until I heard a DJ name the song and artist did I know who it was. About a year before, I had seen the video for "Stockholm Syndrome" and went out and got the band's first three albums. I was skeptical about picking this one up. Not until I seen the video for "Knights Of Cydonia" did I get it. It was a pretty underwhelming experience.

Black Holes was a letdown after the previous two albums. Both Origin Of Symmetry and Absolution were better and proggier than this is. This album begins and ends with the two proggiest songs here: "Take A Bow" and "Knights Of Cydonia", respectively. This may be Muse's most popular album due to "Knights" and "Assassin" being used in Guitar Hero games. "Assassin" is one of the better songs here; great guitar playing and drumming. This is about as close as this band gets to metal. There are some good lyrics on the album, especially "Exo-Politics". The songs "Soldier's Poem" and "Hoodoo" are almost filler here. Mellower than the rest, they ruin the flow of the album.

Most of the songs here are the typical anthemic rock you would expect from Muse. Only the song "Supermassive Black Hole" sounds like they are trying to do something new. It's sound like the band are trying to do a cover of a Prince song. "Take A Bow" has some nice sequencer on it. There is not as much piano here as on Absolution or the follow-up Resistance. I have to mention the sound and production here. It's really good. Unlike most recent music coming out these days, I can listen to this on headphones and not get a headache! Bravo! Many of today's recording engineers need to listen to an album like this; even today you can make music that sounds warm and rich, without having to compress and clip the hell out of it because "that's what everybody else is doing".

Muse are more popular now than ever before, but Absolution was their last great album. This deserves 2.5 but compared to the previous two albums, I have to knock it down to 2 stars.

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Send comments to zravkapt (BETA) | Report this review (#306216) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, October 23, 2010

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars On their fourth album Muse dial back the bombast a little and go out of their way to offer a more diverse selection than the all-explosions-all-the-time offerings of Origin of Symmetry and Absolution. The band are clearly making an effort to broaden their sound a bit here, which is fair enough, but at the same time this also makes the album one of Muse's more forgettable works - because it seems to be deliberately trying to scale back the drama of the last two albums few of the songs really impress themselves on the listener's consciousness. I liked it for the first few listens, but whilst the earlier Muse albums grew on me over time, this one shrunk on me.

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Posted Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Latest members reviews

5 stars 9.5/10 Ironically, his least prog album to date is his best album to date. After the Herculean effort that was enjoying Absolution I feel surprised to have enjoyed Black Holes and Revelations as easily. Almost at my first audition I have ever enjoyed this album. If I listened several times ... (read more)

Report this review (#1019392) | Posted by voliveira | Thursday, August 15, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Muse represent the return, with a big bang, of excess to mainstream rock. At the end of the 70s, rock denounced the heady excess of that decade and rock musicians repeatedly attempted to forge a paradigm that would steer clear of excess. It began with the stripped down aggression of punk, move ... (read more)

Report this review (#840383) | Posted by rogerthat | Friday, October 19, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Rating: 7.5/10 O.K., it is not easy at all to follow up a work like "Absolution" which it's not only their "magnum opus" but also, and arguments are totally rejected, their definitive album. But "Black holes and revelations" keep high standards at a fair balance of its entire running time ... (read more)

Report this review (#458445) | Posted by Mattiias | Thursday, June 09, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I know that I said that Absolution in Muse's career, but I got to say, this album is just as good. The songs are cathcy, the music is amazingly written, it doesn't get boring and it is quite experimental in places. This album saw a more comfortable flirtation with electronics and even though th ... (read more)

Report this review (#258510) | Posted by arcane-beautiful | Wednesday, December 30, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I thought about this and decided i'm gonna give it 5 stars, people might shout and say but this isn't prog rock, where the hell are al the prog songs? there's no prog in any of those songs etc etc, and i would full heartedly agree. There are traces of prog in the songs on this album, most nota ... (read more)

Report this review (#238480) | Posted by Mack888 | Thursday, September 10, 2009 | Review Permanlink

2 stars 2.5* Like many, I was drawn to this album by Knights of Cydonia, found on Guitar Hero III. Happens that I was looking for something new and fresher than just another prog album, went to the music store, found it at a good price and bought it. This was my first mainstream purchase since a lo ... (read more)

Report this review (#234735) | Posted by SentimentalMercenary | Sunday, August 23, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Alternative pop-rock done right. Muse has yet to disappoint me. At first listen Muse are consistantly compared to Radiohead, and unfairly so...for both bands. Other than Bellamy's voice, there is very little similarity between them, Muse being far less experimental and far catchier than Radiohea ... (read more)

Report this review (#210052) | Posted by Sgt. Smiles | Friday, April 03, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Come Ride with me, through the pages of History. I'll show you how God, falls asleep on the Job. I was introduced to this band through this album by...wait for it..Guitar Hero 3. That's right, I was playing with my chum one day and we unlocked 'Knights of Cydonia' and we thought 'Man, this is a ... (read more)

Report this review (#182731) | Posted by mothershabooboo | Wednesday, September 17, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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

Report this review (#162508) | Posted by cookieacquired | Sunday, February 24, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This album shows a completely new side to Muse, the one that could almost be put as crossover prog. They skirt on the edge of that. This one has no real sense of totality to it, but does have some of Muse's finest musical pieces on it. Track 1. Take A Bow Great song, opens up soft and the ... (read more)

Report this review (#161958) | Posted by Wallium | Saturday, February 16, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Muse's Fourth Studio Album Black Holes And Revelations Promised to be a new-turn in the band's direction musically, and it did in some ways, however, the elements of Muse's music is still present and although some things have changed, the band keeps its Apocalyptic-Conspiracy-Theory image. The ... (read more)

Report this review (#160172) | Posted by ichigo14 | Tuesday, January 29, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I cant say that the album hit me when i first time heard it. And it had something to do with the fact my friend, a long time Muse fan sayed that it quite far from good. But still i did'nt share his opinion on the album. So a month later i bought the album and i was stunned. Every song that is on ... (read more)

Report this review (#142424) | Posted by Confetti | Saturday, October 06, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Its so nice to see a band that's very popular make music the way they want. Muse released Absolution, the first album of theirs i bought (and its great), and than released this, which is.... good.... A few incredible tracks save the album from disaster. The opening track, Take a Bow, is a p ... (read more)

Report this review (#142402) | Posted by therevelator | Saturday, October 06, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is a great album. A long time ago, one of my band members (the bassist) told me about Muse and insisted that we learn the song "Hysteria". I was ignorant and never gave Muse a good listen, until the keyboardist in the same band told me the same thing, that Muse was amazing. It took me a w ... (read more)

Report this review (#117917) | Posted by asimplemistake | Tuesday, April 10, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Wow. I was not expecting much more than indie/pop- rock with slightly more keyboards (thereby making it "prog" in many peoples eyes). What I got was completely different. I got an incredible album. Mattew Bellamy's voice, while similar to Thom Yorke's, is extremely powerful and definite ... (read more)

Report this review (#117683) | Posted by one hand clap | Monday, April 09, 2007 | Review Permanlink

1 stars This album is quite boring and pretty awful. Muse sound has always been made up of different elements, like classical music-influenced chords progression, Majestic arrangements, lyrics themes like paranoia and drama, to keep up the interest in the work...since this. This album is very poor, s ... (read more)

Report this review (#112876) | Posted by Malve87 | Tuesday, February 20, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I have been a fan of prog from Yes and Pink Floyd days and recently have been discovering new bands, sometimes courtesy of this excellent site. The two bands that don't get many reviews here are Muse and The Secret Machines. Back to this CD. Whilst every track has different styles to them in ... (read more)

Report this review (#104648) | Posted by highfell | Wednesday, December 27, 2006 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Muse has been a important band to form my musical taste of today. Their distinctive sound on "Origins of Symmetry" and "Absolution" fascinated me when I even had never heard of the term "progressive rock". Therefore it was out of question for me that i had to check, how these guys had developed s ... (read more)

Report this review (#99139) | Posted by exxecutor | Thursday, November 16, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The first time I heard "Black Holes and Revelations" I thought it was a poorer album than "Absolution", "Origin of Symmetry" and perhaps even "Showbiz" - it seemed to lack the power, rawness and melody that enriched those particular records. As a result I didn't listen to it again for a while, ... (read more)

Report this review (#98723) | Posted by alextorres | Tuesday, November 14, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I'm not the biggest fan of Muse, but this album has been praised to the heavens, so I picked it up. "Take A Bow" is a sort of intro, quite spacey and very familiar sounding, like a lot of Muse songs, as they tend to repeat a lot of their sounds. It's pretty epic. "Starlight" was one of my ... (read more)

Report this review (#87516) | Posted by ProgStage | Thursday, August 17, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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