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Muse - Black Holes And Revelations CD (album) cover




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3.69 | 492 ratings

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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.

Insin | 5/5 |


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