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Muse - Black Holes And Revelations CD (album) cover




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3.70 | 493 ratings

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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 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.

Melomaniac | 3/5 |


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