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Muse - Origin of Symmetry CD (album) cover




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3.97 | 429 ratings

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5 stars I remember when I first heard this album in 2001 and it is still the most listened to record in my collection. An eclectic mixture of Hendrix riffs and prog keyboards hardly scratches the surface of this record. Rachmaninov and Nirvana can be heard battling alongside swirling church organs and Spanish guitar, yet despite these enormous range of influences and styles, Muse have almost miraculously made a sound which is their own. Instead of a fractured record they have moulded these seemingly incompatible genres into a satisfying and complete whole.

Newborn opens with disarmingly quiet piano before launching into a huge behemoth of a guitar riff which thunders up the interval scale and smashes through your speakers. Suddenly a fantastic synthetic bass sears into the song and drives it to its huge anthemic chorus. Bliss arrives with prog keyboard arpeggios emerging from the depths managing to both reference the past and sound thoroughly modern with its synthetic edge. A Nirvana style chord progression then bursts over the song, somehow complementing it excellently and creating a true modern gem. Space Dementia brings Matt Bellamy's exceptional piano skills to the fore with a Rachmaninov style progression played at warp speed under vocals wailing 'I'll destroy this world for you.' Hyper Music sees the guitars crashing back with a riff Hendrix would have been delighted with. It also features one of the finest bass progressions you will ever hear. Plug In Baby is perhaps the highlight. A classical inspired distortion guitar motif drives the song towards a huge chorus. There is truly no equivalent reference point in music past or present. This is an album of two halves and Citizen Erased is the turning point. A huge distorted guitar playing jazz chords moves this incredible slow burning song towards its incredible finale, closing with Matt crooning over delicate piano: 'wash me away, clean your body of me, erase all the memories they only bring us pain.'

The second half then well and truly begins. If the first was a lesson in futuristic rock then the second descends into a pit of madness and atmospherics. Micro Cuts sees Bellamy singing in staggeringly high falsetto whilst guitars swirl menacingly before crashing into another classic heavy riff for its climax. Screenager sees Spanish/eastern acoustic guitars creating a strange sense of paranoia superbly complementing the lyrics: 'who you were was so beautiful.' Darkshines then cuts in with beautifully haunting Spanish soloing and descending deeper into Muse's dark world. Feeling Good therefore provides a welcome relief at this point raising the mood briefly, with a superb cover of Nina Simone's classic, before once again lowering us into Megalomaniac. Here church organs swirl forbiddingly with Matt singing with great range and passion: 'paradise comes at a price that I am not prepared to pay.'

This is a genuinely revolutionary rock record that manages to look both forward and back. It is a classic lesson not only in innovative rock guitar and piano, but also in masterful atmospherics and ambience. I have been searching ever since for a record to hold my attention in the same way or show the same staggeringly masterful perfection in song writing and musicianship whilst maintaining its character. I've come close a few times but I am still looking.

static_shadows | 5/5 |


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