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MUSE

Prog Related • United Kingdom


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Muse biography
Muse comprise Matthew Bellamy (lead vocalist, lead guitarist, and pianist), Chris Wolstenholme (bass guitarist) and Dominic Howard (drummer).

Muse came together at the age of 13, although the band was then known as Gothic Plague. The name changed to Fixed Penalty, then Rocket Baby Dolls, and finally to Muse, following a "battle of the bands" competition which they won despite playing music that was overtly aggressive and smashing everything on stage.

In October 1995, Dennis Smith discovered them playing in a Cornish village and eventually offered them free studio time. IN 1998, Muse released their self-titled EP, and the single "Uno".

Following the success of their second single "Cave", they released their first album "Showbiz" in 1999. Produced by John Leckie, who also produced Radiohead's "The Bends", Showbiz drew a lot of criticism for its similarities with Radiohead, but nevertheless was successful - and the only real similarities lie in Matt Bellamy's vocal style.

The following album, "Origin of Symmetry" was also produced by Leckie, but saw Muse becoming more experimental in the ways they created atmospheres; Wind Chimes, Bones, Llama claws and bubble wrap are all used to create effects.

A stream of awards and touring followed, and it wasn't until 2004 that Muse finally released "Absolution". This time they employed Paul Reeve, John Corfield and Rich Costey to handle production. The latter will be familiar to The Mars Volta fans, but had also worked with the likes of Fiona Apple and Philip Glass. Costey's finicky approach to recording and mixing makes "Absolution" stand out from the Leckie produced albums, in that the overall sound is "bigger" and the bombastic nature of the music is underscored heavily.

Following "Absolution"'s huge success Muse confirmed their status with a storming set at Glastonbury in 2004, more awards and singles success.

Two years later, MUSE followed up with their 2006 release Black Holes and Revelations which shot to number one in the U.K. and broke into the top ten in the USA. The album features the songs Starlight, Supermassive Black Hole, and Knights of Cydonia. Rich Costey returned to co-produce the album.

2009 saw the release of The Resistance, which is probably MUSE's most progressive album to-date, which takes a strong influence from QUEEN. The album features the singles The Uprising, Resistance, Undisclosed Desires, and Exogenesis: Symphony, which used up to...
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DronesDrones
Warner Bros. 2015
Audio CD$6.97
$7.82 (used)
The ResistanceThe Resistance
Warner Bros. 2009
Audio CD$2.40
$0.32 (used)
Black Holes & RevelationsBlack Holes & Revelations
Warner Bros. 2006
Audio CD$5.16
$1.04 (used)
The 2nd LawThe 2nd Law
Warner Bros. 2012
Audio CD$3.40
$3.45 (used)
AbsolutionAbsolution
Warner Bros. 2004
Audio CD$3.88
$0.50 (used)
Origin of SymmetryOrigin of Symmetry
Maverick 2005
Audio CD$2.92
$2.91 (used)
ShowbizShowbiz
Maverick 1999
Audio CD$2.00
$1.09 (used)
Live At Rome Olympic Stadium (Blu-Ray/CD)Live At Rome Olympic Stadium (Blu-Ray/CD)
Warner Bros. 2013
Audio CD$11.85
$11.10 (used)
Absolution (2 LP) [Vinyl]Absolution (2 LP) [Vinyl]
WEA/Reprise 2009
Vinyl$20.51
$20.99 (used)
H.A.A.R.P.: Live from Wembley (Region 2 DVD)H.A.A.R.P.: Live from Wembley (Region 2 DVD)
Warner Bros. 2008
Audio CD$4.47
$0.06 (used)
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MUSE shows & tickets


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MUSE discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

MUSE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.15 | 218 ratings
Showbiz
1999
3.90 | 318 ratings
Origin Of Symmetry
2001
3.93 | 355 ratings
Absolution
2003
3.63 | 340 ratings
Black Holes And Revelations
2006
3.23 | 308 ratings
The Resistance
2009
3.23 | 181 ratings
The 2nd Law
2012
3.39 | 60 ratings
Drones
2015

MUSE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.65 | 61 ratings
Hullabaloo Soundtrack
2002
4.40 | 73 ratings
H.A.A.R.P
2008

MUSE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.89 | 27 ratings
Hullabaloo: Live At Le Zenith-Paris
2002
4.28 | 18 ratings
Absolution Tour
2005
3.73 | 11 ratings
Live at Rome Olympic Stadium
2013

MUSE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Showbiz Box
2000
0.00 | 0 ratings
Symmetry Box
2004
0.00 | 0 ratings
Absolution Box
2005

MUSE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 5 ratings
This Is A Muse Demo
1995
3.05 | 10 ratings
Newton Abbot Demo
1997
2.48 | 16 ratings
Muse
1998
2.50 | 12 ratings
Muscle Museum
1999
3.33 | 3 ratings
Uno
1999
3.50 | 4 ratings
Cave
1999
3.25 | 4 ratings
Muscle Museum
1999
3.33 | 3 ratings
Sunburn
2000
3.33 | 3 ratings
Unintended
2000
3.00 | 6 ratings
Random 1-8
2000
3.63 | 8 ratings
Plug In Baby
2001
4.25 | 8 ratings
New Born
2001
3.25 | 4 ratings
Bliss
2001
3.25 | 4 ratings
Hyper Music/Feeling Good
2001
3.89 | 9 ratings
Dead Star - In Your World
2002
4.40 | 5 ratings
Stockholm Syndrome
2003
2.00 | 3 ratings
Time Is Running Out
2003
4.40 | 5 ratings
Hysteria
2003
4.00 | 3 ratings
Sing for Absolution
2004
4.40 | 5 ratings
Apocalypse Please
2004
5.00 | 5 ratings
Butterflies and Hurricanes
2004
2.75 | 4 ratings
Starlight
2006
3.00 | 3 ratings
Knights of Cydonia
2006
2.53 | 18 ratings
Supermassive Black Hole
2006
2.67 | 3 ratings
Invincible
2007
2.33 | 3 ratings
Map of the Problematique
2007
2.67 | 3 ratings
Uprising
2009
1.75 | 4 ratings
Undisclosed Desires
2009
2.67 | 3 ratings
Resistance
2010
3.00 | 3 ratings
Neutron Star Collision (Love Is Forever)
2010
4.15 | 13 ratings
Exogenesis
2010
3.39 | 18 ratings
Survival
2012
1.87 | 25 ratings
The 2nd Law: Unsustainable
2012
2.02 | 24 ratings
Madness
2012
1.75 | 4 ratings
Follow Me
2012
3.86 | 7 ratings
Supremacy
2013
2.17 | 6 ratings
Panic Station
2013

MUSE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Drones by MUSE album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.39 | 60 ratings

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Drones
Muse Prog Related

Review by crashandridemusic

3 stars Muse is a band that is recommended to me constantly. I always hear 'Oh, you like the White Stripes? You'll like them.' Or possibly 'If you like Radiohead, you'll definitely love these guys.' I might have heard their more popular songs like 'Uprising' and 'Madness' on the radio, but have never made the connection. With their latest album 'Drones' released recently, I decided to let it be my first taste of them.

Muse consists of Matthew Bellamy on vocals/guitars/keys, Christopher Wolstenholme on bass guitar/vocals/keys, and Dominic Howard on drums. Upon listening to their music for the first time, I can hear the resemblance to Radiohead, being a harder and experimental sound with moments of progressive and space rock. To call this band a progressive rock band, though, is a little bit of a stretch, but I can understand where critics and listeners come up with such an opinion. I would say their sound is more closely related to a pop/alternative rock, consisting of heavily overdriven guitar riffs like the Foo Fighters/Queens of the Stone Age right aside piano ballads that remind me of Coldplay/30 Seconds to Mars. Their newest album 'Drones' basically throws all these names into a blender and presses the on button.

Much of this album follows the same tempo and flavor from start to finish. Each song has a catchy rhythm, mixed with weird sound effects, falsetto vocals a la Jeff Buckley, and fairly simple drum beats. Simply put, the album is straightforward. For being a progressive album, I actually was a little underwhelmed. There aren't too many highs and lows, and aren't too many highlighting moments for any band member. Dare I ask, is this my first negative review? Perhaps it doesn't catch my attention like most of the music I tend to listen to, but that doesn't mean this album is devoid of great material.

There are two songs in particular that stood out to me: 'The Handler' and 'The Globalist.' I believe these two songs are the two best on the album, and for different reasons. 'The Handler' starts with that overdriven guitar sound, but chimes in with deeps bass lines and drum beats that bring the song down a whole other level, one that isn't pursued too much in 'Drones.' Alongside these extremely deep and low tones is Bellamy's high-pitched vocals, drifting between sharp and flat notes that give a very eerie vibe in the song's chorus. Add in the sound effects over his vocals and the song becomes even creepier. A simple but nicely inserted solo using a phaser pedal extends the song into the four minute mark. Every time I play this song, I can't help but play it twice.

The other song, 'The Globalist,' runs over 10 minutes long. For that reason alone, I believed it was worth mentioning. Being the most progressive sounding track on 'Drones,' 'The Globalist' starts off with a country western-style whistling over clean guitar chords, a much slower pace than any other track on the album. This sound shifts towards slide guitar and military style snare drumming, which continues the concept present throughout the album, which I will mention shortly. This section actually reminds me a little of David Gilmour's solo material, which was a great change of pace. Sure enough, the track falls right back into the (by this point) slightly boring alternative rock sound and tempo half way through the song, which is where my attention shifts away. The song closes with a piano arrangement, followed by the a cappella title track.

Now for the other reason why most people suggest Muse to me: the lyrics. If you didn't know, I'm a sucker for conspiracy theories. Not that I necessarily believe in them, but I am fascinated by the research, explanations, and devotion that comes with the territory. Turns out Mr. Bellamy is the same way. As stated in several press interviews, 'Drones' follows a concept of indoctrination and defection as the main protagonist fights against the system. To me, this concept alone sparks my interest in the album. Unfortunately, much of the lyrics are uninspiring to me. I feel Muse really had the chance to make a much larger and profound statement with their lyrics considering the state of the world today, but just flat out missed it. I wanted to be caught up in their vigor with youthful aspirations and invoke the libertarian views in me, but I just didn't feel it in 'Drones.' The lyrics are a little boring, predictable, and even at times laughable. The chorus of 'Psycho' is a prime example:

'I'm going to make you, I'm going to break you, I'm going to make you / A f*cking psycho / Your ass belongs to me now'

Another example is the abusive instructions between a drill sergeant and a private inserted in this song. It's a little over the top and unnecessary. Maybe their next album will make me feel like standing up and fighting for what I believe in.

With all the positives and negatives I've mentioned, I'd still recommend 'Drones' to anyone on this blog. Sure, it isn't the perfect album, but it's still really catchy and interesting, perfect for driving and rocking out.

I give this 3 of 5 stars. At best.

Taken from Crash And Ride Music

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 Drones by MUSE album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.39 | 60 ratings

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Drones
Muse Prog Related

Review by Rune2000
Special Collaborator Prog Metal Team

3 stars I haven't been actively listening to Muse since 2009 due to complete disinterest in the material on The Resistance and The 2nd Law. Even though I've been a fan of their sound since Origin Of Symmetry, Muse made a turn for the simpler and commercially oriented sound on Black Holes And Revelations and expanded in the same direction with The Resistance and especially The 2nd Law. So why did I suddenly decided to return to Muse? Well, the answer is that I actually enjoyed Drones a lot more than their previous two releases and thus decided to write a few words about it.

First off, let's be clear on the fact that Drones is by no means a return to the band's old sound. What we get here is a mix between the old and the new, some tracks are completely omittable while others are among the best that Muse has ever recorded. If you've heard a couple of the singles from Drones and thought that they were weak, then you're definitely not alone; my reaction was completely the same. Dead Inside and Psycho are riff-driven anthems that completely leave me cold while Reapers is slightly more enjoyable even though the song drags a bit too long.

The first really great song here is Mercy, this track is a mix of Starlight and Bliss featuring a strong melodic chorus that transitions well between the verse-chorus sections. The Handler and Defector and Revolt are strong album tracks that manage to move the album along while adding layers to the concept of drones warfare. My favorite part of the album are the three final tracks that begin with the ballad Aftermath, progresses with the 10 minutes of bliss with The Globalist and finishes off with an a cappella outro on the title track. The Globalist is probably the biggest reason for my return to Muse since this is easily their best multi-part epic that manages to completely overshadow both Exogenesis and The 2nd Law.

I really hope that the band will continue in a more conceptual direction on their next releases while moving away from the dispensable singles that have filled their last couple of albums. Drones is a slight return to form thanks to the marvelous second part of the album that focuses on the beauty of the band's sound and reduces the filler. Recommended to fans of Absolution and Black Holes And Revelations!

***** star songs: The Globalist (10:07)

**** star songs: Mercy (3:52) The Handler (4:34) Defector (4:33) Revolt (4:06) Aftermath (5:48) Drones (2:50)

*** star songs: Dead Inside (4:23) Psycho (5:17) Reapers (6:00)

** star songs: [Drill Sergeant] (0:21) [JFK] (0:55)

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 Drones by MUSE album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.39 | 60 ratings

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Drones
Muse Prog Related

Review by robbob

4 stars I listened at first to the singles...separated...the 5 first songs.... My first impression was...ou...As the first songs and singles of the 2nd Law ...now their tendency is to make rock for the masses....'what happen to the most progressive vein of Muse demonstrated ...in Absolution,or Black Holes...something in Restoration and in the 2 nd Law. But listening and listening..to the singles and then to the next 6 songs ...I felt pleasure for recognizing all songs are very good ...the singles and the next 6 (well Drones is a joke of Gregorian music. .but well...)..Aftermath and Globalist mostly in the line of Queen .Revolt maybe the worst Is a good album not as good as their best ......but the average is 3,5- 4 stars

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 Drones by MUSE album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.39 | 60 ratings

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Drones
Muse Prog Related

Review by Insin

4 stars Drones: Muse's seventh album and supposed return to form. Keeping their promise of decreasing (but not eliminating) the symphonic and electronic influences so central to their previous two albums, they have left two main styles struggling for dominance: pop and rock. Piano is still present and important, though secondary to the guitar, symphonic elements appear briefly on a few songs, and after Dead Inside, the electronic parts majorly tone down. And the Queen influence? Still there.

The progressive elements are definitely present as well. While most of the songs don't fit the definition of prog rock, Drones is the band's first concept album. The storyline follows someone who has been broken, and then brainwashed to kill for the military. Eventually, the protagonist fights back and the story ends at Aftermath. (The Globalist a separate storyline and the a cappella/monk chanting title track is the album's outro.)

It is completely unsurprising that Muse has focused their concept album on war and how the government brainwashes us, given themes from previous albums, and the cover art demonstrates it perfectly (notice how we can't see who the largest hand belongs to... remind anyone of Ruled by Secrecy?). Drones is commentary on warfare, psychology, politics, history, and even a touch of religion. The background is fairly complex, but the storyline is simple and easy to follow. The narrative is told well, with Bellamy singing as the protagonist for every track except Psycho, though sometimes it is unclear how or why things happen (for example, how does the protagonist suddenly find love in the Aftermath?). Out of the context of the album, the individual songs usually cannot stand without their lyrics sounding ridiculous, the already-infamous line "your ass belongs to me now" from Psycho being a prime example. Good thing there's no such thing as a casual I-only-listen-to-Muse-on-the-radio fan? right?

While it could be better, Muse does a decent job of making the lyrics fit the music. Defector is the best example of this, as the protagonist begins to become independent of the society and moves towards freedom, and it the song sounds triumphant and proud. However, the subject matter Drones deals with is dark, and in order for the lyrics and music to fully fit, pop songs aren't going to cut it.

The album is split between primarily pop and rock, as a result of the abolishment of electronic and orchestral components. Dead Inside, which sounds like your average, generic pop-alt radio hit, the U2-influenced Mercy, Revolt, and the unbearably cheesy ballad of love Aftermath make up the pop department, and consist of four of the album's ten non-interlude songs. Depending on your preferences, you may or may not want to check them out, but for me, none of these are particularly good.

In the rock department, things are more exciting. Songs like The Handler and Defector display guidance from Royal Blood, the bass sound thick and central. These two songs tend to be operatic and dramatic but fairly heavy, like a cross between Origin of Symmetry and The Resistance. The lead single, Psycho (which I originally hated due to its un-Muse-like excessive cursing) makes much more sense in context of the plotline. It has great energy and a great riff, one that has been around for a long time and now has finally been put to good use.

The album's best offerings lie in Reapers, the fifth song. Let me just say it: riffs. The intro riff and the one played during the Drones chant (main riff), to be specific. It also features what is potentially Bellamy's best soloing and tastefully minimal electronic presence. The noisy outro could have been left out to no loss, but the song is pieced together well and each part has its value. It lies on the unconventional side.

Even more unconventional is The Globalist, Muse's self-described "prog nightmare," only song over ten minutes, and sequel to fan favorite Citizen Erased. By now I've heard plenty of ten minute songs (and I'm sure everyone else who's reading this has as well), but never from Muse. So it's an interesting listen, and the song I was looking forward to hearing the most. The song starts out spacey, western, and reminiscent of tracks Invincible and Knights of Cydonia from the band's fourth album, Black Holes and Revelations. The buildup lasts 4 ˝ minutes until a mediocre transition into a good, heavy riff, which plays for about two minutes. The song winds down into a "celebratory" piano ballad of the type that bands will slap onto the end of a prog epic, to give the track a feeling of closure rather than ending it as it peaks in intensity. It's not a bad song, but its major issue is that? it's not long enough. The band spends so much time building up and recovering from the most powerful and exciting portion, the metal riff in the middle, which takes up a disproportionately small part of the song at two minutes/one fifth of The Globalist's runtime. In order to justify the length of the intro and outro, the middle needs to be extended. They could have added another riff, another vocal part, a solo break, or even gotten rid of it. Otherwise, it sounds out of place and completely disrupts the flow of the song. Additionally, The Globalist doesn't have much likeness to Citizen Erased anyway.

Drones is a flawed album. Is it bad? No, although the pop songs are weak and The Globalist is disappointing. There are still good songs on here, Reapers not only one the best song from Drones, but a highlight of their catalogue. If there is one song to hear from this release, it would be this one. But Muse is also becoming more progressive, seeing as Drones is a concept album, and they've even had a go at writing a "ten minute prog nightmare." Hopefully, this, rather than pop, is a path they will continue down.

I would give it three stars musically? but it's a concept album, a first for Muse, and more entertaining and interesting that way. A for effort. Until next album.

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 Showbiz by MUSE album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.15 | 218 ratings

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Showbiz
Muse Prog Related

Review by Insin

3 stars Before Muse released Showbiz in 1999, they had already been playing together for five years, writing about fifty songs. Twelve of these would make it onto Showbiz, a debut that makes it feel like the band wasn't going for popularity, respect, or fame ? they just wanted to get their music out there.

Showbiz has a sound rooted predominantly in alternative rock, with touches of influences like blues and Latin that would not survive to see their later releases, and it lacks the symphonic and progressive elements for which Muse is better known. Some heaviness is present, although in a noisy, punk-ish fashion rather than a strictly metal sound. Whatever experimentation is present on the album seems to come about organically, and it is smoothly incorporated into Showbiz's alt rock foundation, as opposed to the band writing a song purely in a different style (as was done on The Second Law). Escape, for example, starts off mellow and bluesy, then explodes into angry hard rock; Falling Down does the same but retains the bluesy, contemplative feel for most of its duration. Muse showcases some more diversity as well with the inclusion of the acoustic ballad Unintended and piano-based Sunburn, something of a precursor to their later love of experimentation.

Since "traditional" Muse lyrics (conspiracy theories, science, politics, and whatnot) have not yet come about at this point, much of the focuses of Showbiz angsty and naďve instead. They spend most of their time complaining about small town life, relationships, and overall sounding immature. The song Muscle Museum even includes the quite memorable line "I have played in every toilet." No, I don't know the story behind that.

As an alternative rock album, the songwriting, as you'd expect, isn't particularly innovative or interesting. The riffs are not great, the soloing lacking, the songs only "kind of" catchy. The best thing about the instrumentation is Bellamy's vocal performance. His voice itself does not stand out as above average, but what he can do with it is incredible. Take the end of the title track ? he lets out some absolutely glass-shattering high-pitched screams.

The album's most defining characteristic is its rawness, its unfiltered purity of emotion. Unintended is one side of the spectrum, an innocent, honest love song, while the rage of the title track and Escape are impossible to ignore. Falling Down, which is about wanting to leave town, just sounds so authentic. Muse did not go out of their way to make an experimental album in seven different genres. They wrote the music that came about from their circumstances and made something that captures a genuine feeling of angst. And the actual music isn't bad either.

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 Origin Of Symmetry by MUSE album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.90 | 318 ratings

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Origin Of Symmetry
Muse Prog Related

Review by Insin

5 stars Origin of Symmetry is Muse's heaviest and probably their weirdest album. It's also their best. A major improvement from the angsty, alt rock-based Showbiz, the band's first involvement with symphonic aspects occur here, never taking a central role but present in more than one song. The lyrics begin to take on typical Muse style. Though rarely clear and mostly ambiguous, they touch on subjects like technology, religion, self-harm and depression, love, etc. OoS also features more diversity in not only style but in mood ? but all songs are Muse's own brand of hard rock. No two tracks are the same, while each manages to hold onto the characteristic OoS sound.

As a heavy album, OoS is primarily guitar-based, but piano and keyboards play an important role in creating much of OoS's variety. They are typically used for intros and outros, but there are two songs, Space Dementia and Megalomania, which are dominated by these instruments. Megalomania's inclusion of eerie organ coaxes forth another diversifying factor on OoS: mood. While not atmospheric, OoS showcases an assortment of moods and emotions, ranging from the rapturous, entranced Bliss, to the enraged, probably-a-leftover-from-Showbiz Hyper Music, to the ominous Screenager and closer Megalomania, and others that I haven't mentioned. This makes OoS one hell of a ride ? and the songs diverse while being consistent enough to function as a cohesive album.

OoS, as a whole, is a great album, but there are specific moments when it shines the most. These are what raise it above the rest of their works ? these short parts that are absolutely mind-blowing.

1. The transition from the piano to a heavy riff on New Born: As if trying to trick the listener, the first song from Origin of Symmetry, New Born, opens with an ominous piano section. The bass line seems to swirl, the drums build the song slightly as frontman Matt Bellamy plays an eerie piano line and croons cryptically. Bellamy lets out a final, chilling, lingering wail, the song pauses, and the listener gets a sense that something drastic is about to happen. Out of nowhere, you are hit by a monster riff. The song picks up. You are headbanging.

2. The Plug in Baby riff: The whole song is great, full of upbeat energy with a strong, catchy chorus. Dynamics are used well, and the bass bounces along. But the riff is the best part ? catchy, fairly technical, and spinning circles around your head.

3. The high note from the Micro Cuts chorus: Can I just say: holy mother of god and how. The whole song is done in falsetto, but here Bellamy ties with the highest note he's ever sung. OoS is packed with plenty of Bellamy wails, and this is the best one. Micro Cuts is a great song too, really weird with plenty of meter shifts during verses and an explosive outro.

4. The synth on Bliss: Bliss is touching, emotional, and the lyrics are tender. The synth forms its backbone, undulating and threading the instruments together. It complements the lyrics beautifully.

5. The Citizen Erased ending. You know what, the whole song: Citizen Erased is a fan favorite. After a heavy beginning, taking up the bulk of the song, and an angry riff that echoes the song's great drumbeat, Bellamy produces an emotional solo and the track winds down into a semi-ambient bridge and a piano outro. At only seven minutes, it's an epic. Imagine what Muse could do if they were a true prog band.

Basically, I consider Origin of Symmetry to be perfect. Even their cover of Feeling Good does not seem out of place, as I have heard people complain before. It is consistent but diverse, heavy but melodic, and emotional but not overdone. This is Muse at their finest.

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 Absolution by MUSE album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.93 | 355 ratings

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Absolution
Muse Prog Related

Review by Insin

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.

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 Black Holes And Revelations  by MUSE album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.63 | 340 ratings

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Black Holes And Revelations
Muse Prog Related

Review by Insin

5 stars More than anything, Black Holes and Revelations is lyrically unified. As the styles Muse explores continue to sprawl outwards, the topics they sing about condense. BH&R's main focuses are on space and politics, and it seems like it could tell a story even though it doesn't. Unless you use your imagination. The album cover just about sums up what the album sounds like: Martian apocalypse music.

The songs themselves are widely varied. There is less usage of symphonic elements, though the influence of classical music shows through onto songs like Hoodoo. Here, pop music begins to enter the equation, Supermassive Black Hole and Starlight being the main offenders. SMBH is a danceable, vocal-dominated piece, and the solo is utter garbage, but, I mean, the song is catchy. Starlight offers a more emotional approach, but it still emphasizes the commercial aspect of catchiness, from the simple, repetitive piano line woven in throughout the song to the drumbeat. Both of these songs are good (for pop), though significantly watered down.

But these songs maintain the album's spacey theme, even judging from their titles alone. BH&R puts you on Mars and in outer space, while creating the uneasy tension of political strife ? in reference to the line "this ship is taking me far away," Muse filmed the video for Starlight on a boat, but that was only because they couldn't find a spaceship. Or because they already did a spaceship video for the previous album. Take a Bow's introductory keyboards set the tone for the rest of the album; later on its ending gives the impression of a spaceship taking off. The beginning of Invincible, with Bellamy's usage of a slide and Howard's war drums, conjures images of approaching armies and a sunrise on Mars. As the song progresses, it loses its atmospheric qualities, the lyrics cheesy but the track building up nicely.

The epic closer Knights of Cydonia demonstrates this obsession with space especially well, with a western twist. Previously, Muse have tended to close with haunting piano-based songs, but here they opt for a song with a title that describes it perfectly ? you really feel like a warrior riding into some kind of space battle, facing down the enemy in an intense showdown. Knights falls on the heavier and proggier side of the Muse spectrum. A mainly instrumental song, it builds up to a peak with a dramatic, operatic vocal portion. The riffs and dynamics featured on this song are great, though if it had been expanded beyond its six minutes, it truly could have been a prog epic. Nevertheless, it makes up for any weakness in songwriting and lack of the space/political theme found on the rest of the album.

And there are weaknesses, albeit not many. Individually, quite a few of these songs can't stand on their own. Assassin, despite its furious energy and relentless drumming from Dom Howard, begins the descent into relative mediocrity which continues all the way through Hoodoo. City of Delusion's sharp lyrics and Latin/folk/Eastern tinge, including a trumpet solo, even though it is a deviation from the standard rock sound, is still uninteresting ? again, relatively. It works in the album's favor, as it builds up to Knights of Cydonia and makes it more anticipated than if it had been preceded by songs of equal quality.

Black Holes and Revelations makes up for some relatively weak songs and almost too many different sounds by how it is held together by its lyrics. BH&R is not traditional space rock, but it puts the listener on Mars and definitely brings a spacey feeling to the experience. It seems like it could have been a concept album, about an interstellar rebellion against a corrupt government, or something of that nature.

However, on BH&R's followup, we'd see much more about rebellions. And the influence of pop music continues, and infuses itself into Muse's sound ? maybe forever.

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 The Resistance by MUSE album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.23 | 308 ratings

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The Resistance
Muse Prog Related

Review by Insin

3 stars Muse's orchestral presence returns with a vengeance on the Resistance, and the introduction of pop found on the previous album unnervingly begins to infuse itself into the band's sound. Much of the music found on The Resistance is also more anthemic, shifting towards a piano-based and mainstream arena rock sound. In short, The Resistance could be categorized as symphonic pop rock.

The Resistance is just some really catchy stuff. Uprising, probably the band's most popular song, is a great anthem, and completely dedicated to this idea. The synth line is memorable, the bass throbbing and groovy, the drums something you'll find yourself clapping along to, the chorus sing-along-able, and the shouts of "hey!" near the end very much inviting the listener to join in. It's still a rock song, perfectly tailored to become a major hit? except the lyrics encourage overthrowing the government.

While less of a unifying force than on BH&R, many of the album's lyrics are, in fact, based off of taking down the government. These lyrics tend to be alienating at times, but they sound smart and you can kind of feel smart if you listen to them. Muse expands on the theme of politics, incorporating ideas from George Orwell's 1984. The focus on space is not as strong, and the Resistance delivers a few cheesy love songs. These cheesy love songs tend to be the pop songs that aren't rooted in rock. Undisclosed Desires is one of these, and I'll at least give Muse credit for having a bigger vocabulary than the average pop band. It also introduces electronic elements that would become prevalent ? and controversial ? on The Second Law, The Resistance's follow up. Guiding Light is another pop song, a boring plod through an unenergetic, unchanging four minutes. I Belong to You fuses pop with opera and classical influence, and Bellamy succeeds in sounding whiny and dragging the song out for much longer than it needs to go on.

And speaking of classical influence, there's Exogenesis, the three part symphony that spans the album's last thirteen minutes. This is Muse's progressive side showing as they attempt a mini concept album, which seems a little out of place. The story tells of the death of Earth, and a group of astronauts who have been selected to colonize another planet to keep the human race going. Apparently the band was sued for stealing the idea, but they won the lawsuit. Either way, it's a great ending to the album. Part One has a hypnotic, undulating symphonic line, and when the guitar kicks in, it's one of the album's best moments. Part Two is theatrical and dramatic; Part Three is emotionally charged and beautiful, and all of the portions function together much better than the rest of the album does.

Rock songs do exist on this album also ? many are influenced by pop, but a song like Unnatural Selection is the heaviest, fastest song the album has to offer. It's a great song, introduced by organ and exploding into angry, assaulting riffing and lyrics. But there are still complaints about this piece. The main riff sounds suspiciously like the one from New Born (from the band's second album). As much as I love that riff, it sounds like they've run out of ideas for good heavy songs. Additionally, the breakdown is just a huge waste of time. United States of Eurasia is another song that sounds like they've run out ideas, the outro taken from Chopin and the main portion ripping off Queen. It's still a good piano-based song, the lyrics are interesting, and Muse throws in a Middle-Eastern twist partway through.

The Resistance might have been better off split into two EPs, one with Exogenesis, the other containing the album's best songs: Uprising, the Resistance, United States of Eurasia, and a version of Unnatural Selection without the boring breakdown. Many of the songs are weaker, and the pop, rock, and classical influences don't always come together well on some tracks, while working in agreement on other songs. The Resistance is a step down from Black Holes and Revelations, though as a whole interesting and rather unique despite a sense of disjointedness in quality, and to a lesser extent, stylistically. Still, this disjointedness is nothing compared to what is found on the album's follow up, The Second Law?

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 The 2nd Law by MUSE album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.23 | 181 ratings

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The 2nd Law
Muse Prog Related

Review by Insin

2 stars Starting as early as Origin of Symmetry in 2001, Muse's sound has continued to diversify. They've held their albums together with high song quality and lyrical unification, but with The Resistance, things started to go wrong. With the Second Law, they didn't know where to stop. In thirteen songs, they present too many different styles: symphonic rock, funk, electro-pop, straightforward alternative rock, hard rock/metal, and the controversial dubstep song' need I go on? Combining this many genres is determined to be a mess. It does not sound like an album. It does not sound cohesive.

The songwriting suffers as well and many of these tracks are weak. Whenever I listen to this I usually end up skipping about half of the songs, though there are still a few very strong tracks on here. Supremacy is the best, as the regal, grandiose, symphonic opener, and Survival could have easily launched itself into the upper echelons of Muse songs, had the lyrics not been so cheesy and the completely unnecessary choir been removed. One of Muse's heavier songs, it is utterly overblown' but it was written for the Olympics, after all. After you hear these two highlights, you know that Matt Bellamy's voice has not deteriorated whatsoever, and is probably eternal.

Of course, I have to talk about the electronic influence that has expanded from Undisclosed Desires and might be the dominant sound on The Second Law ' though it's hard to tell, considering there are so many different styles on it. The songs most strongly based in electronics are Madness, Follow Me, and Unsustainable. Madness is pure pop with a trace of dubstep in the background, complete with a simple riff, echoed by a catchy hook, 'M-m-m-m-m-m-ma-ma-ma-madness.' But only Muse could say the word 'evolve' twice in a prime-for-the-radio love song. Unsustainable is buried near the end of the album, and it's the song that made this album so controversial before it even came out. Three years since first hearing it and I still can't decide if it's good or bad ' there's nothing to judge it against because it's one of a kind: dubstep with an orchestra, choir, and robot vocals, with the spoken word parts addressing thermodynamics. Way to go, Muse. It's unique, and a song you should listen to for its novelty, if nothing else.

Bassist Chris Wolstenholme is responsible for the writing of two of the songs, Save Me and Liquid State, which sound completely normal and generic in comparison to the rest of the album. He sings them, and he has a good voice, though both compositions are fairly average. Save Me is slow and boring, pretty near the end but still nothing special. Liquid State is a heavier song, done well, driven by bass and worth listening to.

Towards the end, even as early Follow Me, the album takes on a distinctly non-Muse feeling. It becomes disconnected from the listener and doesn't really sound like them. Maybe that's me just going into denial about how they've taken their experimentation too far, but even the more traditional songs, the ballad Explorers and fairly basic Big Freeze, lack the signature Muse feel. This disconnection reaches a high with the closing track Isolated System. It's Muse's only (non intro/interlude) instrumental song, though featuring a great deal of samples. The emotional piano still conveys the old Muse idea that the world is going to end, but it's a piece that just doesn't sound like something they would write.

And the lyrics ' I've always admired Muse's lyrics, but I have no idea what is going on here. So many of them are ambiguous, cheesy, or inaccessible. There is little to no common ground between songs that attempts to unify the album, as was done on Black Holes and Revelations, and to a lesser extent, The Resistance.

The Second Law is a mediocre album. There are a few good songs, but too many different clashing styles and too much experimentation. It is inconsistent in terms of quality and sound, and so disjointed that it does not flow or sound like it should be together. Their worst album so far.

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