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Muse - Black Holes And Revelations CD (album) cover




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3.70 | 493 ratings

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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, but I was prompted to do so again when my mp3 player chugged out a couple of its tracks on its random shuffle. And, having heard it again, I just kept replaying it!!

How wrong you can be on a first, perhaps casual, hearing! I've revised my opinion entirely and now think this is their best yet. It is a development from the previous albums: the musical arrangements are richer, the lyrics deeper and the production slicker. But you still get Muse - powerful guitar driven rock with melody aplenty.

In terms of development, "Assassin" and "Exo-politics" pick up from where "Absolution" left off - lots of power, pace and great riffs. Brilliant stuff! Moving on, there are a couple of songs where they have managed to combine power with "pop" - "Starlight" is very catchy for instance. Elsewhere, you get beautiful harmonies that I've not heard before with Muse - the gorgeous, powerful "Supermassive Black Hole" is a good example.

"Soldier's Tale", a lament about the injustices facing soldiers fighting on the "front-line" thousands of miles away, is another song benefiting from rich harmonies. It is then cleverly musically linked to the following song, "Invincible" - a clarion call for those same and other, similar individuals to take strength from the uniqueness and power of their own souls as a means of resisting and fighting injustice.

But the biggest musical surprise is reserved for the trio of songs that close the album: "City of Delusion", "Hoodoo" and "Knights of Cyclonia". It is in these songs that the musical development moves on apace. Muse are sceptical of the "prog rock" tag that some people place on them: however, song writing as exemplified here moves them further into that camp, whilst still retaining enough of their root sound to keep their existing fans happy. What we have in these songs is a development in the complexity of the instrumentation and arrangements: acoustic guitars, lush orchestral strings and trumpets playing Spanish and other continental themes, enhanced sound effects etc.

"City of Delusion" is possibly the most complex of the arrangements, building on the acoustic guitar and continental themes of the orchestra and trumpet to develop into a powerful rock number. "Hoodoo" opens with flamenco style guitar riff, developing into a slow number with gentle orchestration and classical piano, again building to a more traditional rock band sound towards the end. The sound of horses galloping heralds the start of "Knights of Cyclonia" and a chase theme develops on trumpet, drums and rock guitar as the song builds to a crescendo.

The album's songs were recorded chronologically, so the last three, most complex numbers, are the most recent. This opens up exciting prospects for the next Muse album should they decide to continue with the development.

Finally, the lyrics throughout the album are consistently more political and meaningful than we've had from Muse before. The album closes with the words "The time has come to make things right; you and I must fight for our rights; you and I must fight to survive"; a theme which has been developed and repeated from the opener "Take a Bow". Matthew Bellamy, the band's inspirational leader, is clearly a man with a mission. Many bands have tried this in the past, going back to my day and before - but unfortunately my generation has not managed the planet and its peoples too well during its tenure - I sincerely hope Matthew and his generation do a better job!

alextorres | 5/5 |


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