Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Muse - Black Holes And Revelations CD (album) cover

BLACK HOLES AND REVELATIONS

Muse

Prog Related


From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share
Certif1ed
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I'll probably get crucified by my fellow Muse fans for this, but I really think that this album is probably the least Proggy that Muse have done.

Of course, I don't own a copy yet, I made my review notes from the "listening party" that Muse recently held on MySpace.com, during which they streamed the album in it's near-entirity - so I'll be updating this review in the next couple of weeks, once I have a copy.

While the single "Super Massive Black Hole" might have you thinking that Muse have "done a Radiohead" and completely re-invented themselves in an attempt to avoid falling into the trap of writing "Absolution II", the album under review here is quite obviously a Muse album, with all the hallmarks - and few real deviations from their established style.

That said, there are plenty of places that Muse explore territory that is new for them - the vocal harmonies have got some real spit and polish, and in places are more than reminiscent of Queen. There are pieces that really stand out - but there are more pieces that are no more than enjoyable for what they are - and what they are not is Prog Rock, on the whole - with a few notable exceptions.

The album opens promisingly enough - "Take A Bow" begins with a quiet keyboard ostinato that is maintained for the first minute and a half, as vocals join, and it undergoes a quite brilliant build-up for a further minute until the now predictable and doom-laden power chords provide a continuation and further building up of this idea to crunching oblivion. The lyrics are striking, if not exactly subtle - but then Muse are (possibly unfairly) not renowned for being subtle. The message to certain war- mongering world leaders "You will burn in hell for your sins" deftly avoids sounding cheesey, by being delivered in a manner that is promising rather than threatening.

"Starlight" continues, with an intense intro that drops away into the land of Orchestral Manouevres in the Dark - with lyrics that appear to be inspired by Morrisey/Smiths. It's a reasonable enough song with interesting structuring, but not particularly inventive - and the quality of the lyrics appears to do a bit of a nose-dive in the "chorus" section. "High Hopes and Expectations, Black Holes and Revelations" indeed.

I reviewed "Super Massive Black Hole" separately, so I'll skip over it - but it does make a bit more sense in the context of the rest of the album.

Next up is "Map of the Problemmatique", which carries a distinct New Order flavour, with a large portion of early U2. A decent enough pop/rock song, with a decent set of lyrics, that might appeal to fans of The Bravery, but with no proggy elements whatsoever.

"Soldier's Poem" carries music that I'm sure I once heard coming from a keyboard made by Bontempi, and is where the vocal harmonies really start to sound like Queen, with intriguing barbershop style layers and tags. It has to be said that the quality of harmony-writing is very high, and the Queen comparison is fully justified.

"Invincible" features a droning intro, and great arrangement details. The music builds similarly to "Take A Bow", but here we do have a "B" section as well as an "A". The harmonic progressions will be familiar to any Muse fan. A great crowd-pleaser, lighters in the air and all that - it somehow reminds me of Keane, until the big riff around 3:20, that sadly gives way to one of Matt's "anti-solos". I'm sure it will be great live, but as part of a polished product, it's annoying.

"Assassin" is a standout track - a delightfully thrashy concoction with much appeal to metal fans - except, of course, it's not metal. Less predictable than the material that preceeded it, this is probably this album's equivalent of "New Born" or "Time Is Running Out" - and it doesn't sound too dissimilar to either. But it does rock with intensity, and makes me happy that there are bands like Muse creating music like this.

"Exo-Politics" is probably this album's "Stockholm Syndrome", with added theremin that sounds oddly at home in Muse's sonic palette. This is going to be another Muse epic track - even better, on the whole, than "Assassin". But it doesn't mark a progression over anything on "Absolution", despite being a wicked song.

The acoustic intro to "City of Delusion" marks a style change, and this is the first time we get the feeling of Muse really exploring the parameters of rock music - in addition to adding orchestral instruments to the texture - and hence providing some great Prog Rock at last. The textural developments and contrasts are noteworthy too - all elements of music are pushed at, and the end result is a confection that is very satisfying - trumpet solo apart. This latter device is a great idea, and starts very well, but quickly descends into a derived and trivial piece of nonsense that is there to fill the gap left for the instrumental section. But full marks to Muse for delivering!

This is continued into the flamenco entry for "Hoodoo" a full-blown Prog-Rock track with strong Radiohead flavours in places, but the welcome re-addition of Matt's Rakhmaninov-inspired piano (there's simply not enough of this on this album!). This is the real deal, and shows what Muse are really capable of if they put their minds to it.

Then, with thundering hooves and Star Trek noises, comes "Knights of Cydonia"

I won't analyse this one - just trust me, it's a great song, you'll love it. "No-one's gonna take me alive, The time has come to make things right, You and I must fit for our rights, You and I must fight to survive". Stirring stuff, and monster rocking riffs to boot.

Unfortunately the version of the album that Muse put onto their MySpace profile, seems to be lacking the final track "Glorious", or my notes are incomplete - but by this time on Monday 3rd July, I'll have a bona fide copy of the album in my collection :0)

If you're already a Muse fan, you'll either be puzzled or excited by this album initially - but over time, will end up delighted - it's a quality piece of work.

If you're not already a fan, though, this album probably won't convert you - it would be better to start with "Origins of Symmetry".

Report this review (#82358)
Posted Saturday, July 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
richardh
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I only got the album yesterday but have listened to it 5 times already! I'm a big fan of Muse and was actually expecting this album to be disappoinment having read all the comments going around about them going for a poppier approach.All fears are dispelled just by the opening track 'Take A Bow' which is just amazing! Pompous and grandiose music that only a select few bands would ever attempt.Perhaps ELP in their heyday?!! The album does admittedly settle down into some familiar Muse type stylings with more than a nod or two towards Queen as Certified noted in his review.The songs perhaps are not as strong as on Absolution but I enjoy the different tones and sounds that abound across a nice variety of peices.This is very much a collection of songs of which 'Knights Of Cydonia' is the stand out.There are no bands around that can do what Muse do IMO but by their high standards this is only 4 star material.Just stops short of being a full 5 stars because its too eclectic and unfocused.Thats the drawback I feel.But certainly don't be afraid to get it if you have any interest in Muse!
Report this review (#82418)
Posted Sunday, July 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars After countless listens to this album, I have decided to review it here..

The opener, Take A Bow, starts with a nice synth line which has a vauge Absolution-like sound - a promising start to the album. The lyrics seem to be aimed at the world leaders, with lines such as "Pay, you must pay, you must pay for your crimes against the earth". Not exactly light hearted lyrics! After the first verse Matt's guitar enters the song and the synth goes in some hyper mode, very apocalyptic sounding. The song is like a gradual crescendo, until it reaches its climax and comes to an end.

The next track, Starlight (which will be the second single from the album), is a slightly poppier number. Fuzz-bass and a catchy piano melody start the song off well. The second verse contains a U2-like guitar part, which is not really a bad thing in this case (although I do not like U2..). The track then goes into another chorus, which contains some great synth arpeggios. It's not the best track on the album, but it is quite a decent song.

This leads into Supermassive Black Hole..How can I describe this song? It certainly is not prog, that's for sure. It starts with a nice guitar riff and goes into the verse, which is sung in falsetto. Not Matt's usual operatic falsetto vocals though. These vocals sound quite feminine, and very different to anything he has ever done before. During the chorus, Chris sings the backing vocals through a Korg Vocoder, which adds to the poppy sound of this track. The Vocoder is also used by Matt when he "sings" the "Supermassive black hole" part. Then there is the guitar solo, which is just a bit of whammy bar sounds with lots of delay. Then they song ends after another chorus. Very unlike anything Muse have ever done, I guess this is a "love it or hate it" track.

The next track, Map of the Problematique, starts with a distorted guitar riff, then the piano comes in and another guitar channel. It is fairly similar to Enjoy The Silence by Depeche Mode, just heavier. Dominic's drumming is very good here, as are Matt's vocals. The chorus is harmonised, with Matt singing in falsetto and Chris singing in his normal voice, a bit like Thom Yorke and Ed O'Brien in Idioteque by Radiohead. This is one of my favourite songs on the album, the band are really tight here and it is not like anything they have done before now.

Soldier's Poem is the next song, which is another very different style for Muse. The melody is played on an acoustic guitar, while Matt is singing from a solider's viewpoint. There are some beautiful vocal harmonies in this song, which are not too distant from Queen. This is a very nice little track, and the band are proving that they can play more than just one style very well with this album.

Invincible is up next. It starts off with a drone sound, slide guitar, and a marching drum pattern. In the verse, Matt is using the Kaoss pad on his Manson guitar to get those synth-like sounds which add to the atmosphere of the song. During the chorus he starts playing the guitar properly and the marching drums become a full kit for the second verse. The song is gradually getting louder, and after the second verse the song changes completely. A almost Hysteria-like bassline comes in, and then Matt plays an amazing finger tapping solo, using his Digitech Whammy Pedal to shift each melody note up on octave, making it sound slightly synth-like. This song is another of my highlights here, another great song from Muse.

The style then changes quite drastically with Assassin. First played on the Absolution tour under the name "Debase Masons Grog", this song will be fimilar to many Muse fans. It starts with the riff played on a clean guitar a few octaves higher, then the rest of the band come in and the distorted dropped-D guitar riff comes in. This is certainly the heaviest song from the album, with some more political lyrics. They removed the middle section from the original Absolution tour version, something I am glad they did. It just made the song drag on, and it was less focused.

Then next song is another that was played on the Absolution tour. Originally called "Burning Bandits", Exo-Politics is a song about an alien/government conspiracy theory, with lyrics such as "When the Zetas fill the skies/it's just our leaders in diguise"..The music itself is quite typical of Muse, with one exception - the theremin in the verses. This certainly adds to the alien theme of the song and makes it much more interesting to listen to. This song is the last of the non-prog section of the album..

City of Delusion is one of the most epic songs Muse have ever written. It starts with a simple acoustic guitar riff and gradually builds up, with the addition of the rest of the band as well as violins and a trumpet. The violins play a very eastern-sounding melody, and it adds a lot to the music. It will be interesting to see how they perform this one live (if they try to). It goes from a quiet verse into a blasting chorus, then into another fuzzy bassline for the second verse and the violins return. This is followed by a second chorus which leads into a breakdown that is the same as the intro of the song with just the acoustic guitar playing. The rest of the band then join in as well as a trumpeter who plays a solo over the band. This is followed by another huge chorus, then there is a violin outro. Very epic sounding song with fantastic dynamics. The album is taking a proggy direction, with only 2 more songs to go.

Hoodoo starts with a Morricone-like electric guitar riff, and Matt does another guitar and vocal verse, until the rest of the band (and an string section) join him. Then, for the first time on this album (unfortunately. There simply is not enough here), a romantic-era style piano is introduced, which adds a lot of texture to the song. The chorus is very big sounding, with a string section, piano, guitar, bass, etc. Then the dynamics go quiet again, with a guitar/vocal outro verse, which leads into the next track.

Knights of Cydonia may be the best song from this album. There is no denying that this is prog. It starts with some UFO synth sounds, then Matt comes in with some insane falsetto vocals. There is then a guitar melody played with the whammy bar, followed by some more insane falsetto vocals. There is also a trumpet in this song. The driving drums and synth lines help deliver a great verse, telling us about the imperfect world we live in..then there are some more insane falsetto vocals, followed by the start of the climatic ending to this album. The multi-tracked vocals here are absolutely mindblowing. Very Queen-influenced again, with the instruments gradually getting louder into the background until breaking into a great riff. They then sing the chorus over this riff, and there is a guitar solo after the vocals. This track is simply fantastic, if Muse can do something like this, then they are certainly capable of doing a full prog album.

If this album was totally prog, I would definitely give it five stars, but as it is not really a fullly blown prog album I will only give it four. I think that as a music album it deserves five, but as a prog album it is only four.

Report this review (#82530)
Posted Monday, July 3, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars What can be said about BHaR in comparison to their previous albums? Well for starters there's obviously a trance-ish feel to it... When I first listened to this album all I could picture was replacing the guitar with some computer made sound and you would have had yourself a cd you could dance to at a party, strobe lights, alcohol etc. However, on listening to it over and over you can also see that there is also Muse of old in there.. Old Muse meets Franz Ferdinand meets a Computer is my judgement on it.

Take A Bow - Some good lyrics as usual it just doesn't sound very progressive or imspired to me - 3/5

Starlight - Funky with the clapping in the background and a good piano riff to go with. This one maintains its capture on you all the way through - 3/5

Supermassive Black Hole - Definately a song I should have listened to in the context of the album instead of downloading. SBH seems to be trying to appeal to the commercial audience and capture their attention. Good guitar riff though and again, some nice lyrics. - 3/5

Map of the Problematique - It's with this song that the album really starts to shine. The intro is very mysterious, almost as if you're looking forward to something but can't see it yet. This one will go up there with the likes of Stockholm Syndrome and Butterflies & Hurricanes though still some obvious dance elements - 4/5

Soldiers Poem - I'm sure if I were into this song I would absolutely love it. But I just can't right now. It just doesn't flow right for me but an interesting subject to write about and some effectively "sad" sounds throughout - 3/5

Invincible - A mellow and laid back beginning to a ballad I think will appeal to many on a few levels (love and times of war etc) A good song. Nothing great but a good song. - 3/5

Assassin - WHOA BUTTERFLY is what I said when I first heard this song. The riff starts off small then the song just explodes. Old Muse is in the house. This along with the next 2 and MotP are the shining points on this album - 3.5/5

Exo-Politics - A nice opening riff to get you into it and some good lyrics to go with it before building up typical Muse style. A nice song - 3/5

All through the album I noticed that the style from the first few songs was now not as evident during this second half (Invincible - Knights of Cydonia) and it seemed to me that maybe Bellamy wanted to give something for both new fans and old.

City of Delusion - Definately a great piece. Progressive from the start and builds up all throughout. The second part of this song is especially awesome. Lyrics and vocals, as usual, Bellamy doesnt have many dark days - 4/5

Hoodoo - Sounds like a Mexican stand off then starting down into a line dancing beat before stopping again and sinking into a beautiful ballad and like Muse usually does delivers a great one. - 4/5

Knights of Cydonia - The opening is a great work and sets the scene for a battle or the adventures of such travellers as the title suggests. I believe this is probably the best song Muse has ever made. If not then it is definately in the same league as Citizen Erased. "You and I must fight for our rights you can I must fight to survive" - 5/5

Overall I believe though it is not all out prog, there are obvious intentions that Muse is set to entertain for a while to come yet and still bring their Prog Related material to the world. Overall i'd say this album is 3.5/5. I don't believe it is essential but if you're a Muse fan or searching for something a little different then this is an excellent addition to your collection.

Report this review (#83588)
Posted Wednesday, July 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Also available as ring tones

Muse's most recent album (at time of writing) finds them developing their style and sound, and reaching a significant stage in their maturity. From a prog perspective, this comes at a cost, and that cost is a distinct move towards the commercial sound of bands such as KEENE and the MANIC STREET PREACHERS, while acquiring the more mainstream aspects of RADIOHEAD.

With that proviso in mind, what MUSE have come up with here is thoroughly enjoyable. The opening "Take a bow" is a writhing, building opener, which whets the appetite for the album nicely. The following "Starlight" is an obvious attempt at securing at least one hit single from this album, the strong melody and pleasant vocals betraying pop at its finest. "Map of the problematique" follows a similar path.

"Supermassive black hole" drifts dangerously close to PRINCE territory, complete with high pitched vocals and a heavy, funky beat.

The brief "Soldier's poem" is a delicate soft ballad with lead vocals which sound more like Thom Yorke than Thom Yorke does, combined with some Freddie Mercury inspired harmonies. This is repeated on the equally aching "Hoodoo", prior to the introduction of theatrical piano surges and dramatic orchestration.

"Invincible" opens with some FLOYDIAN floating guitar backed by a gentle marching beat. The vocal performance here is supreme, the song building climactically and irresistibly. I have a feeling this one will be a regular on the airwaves. "City of illusion" is the most heavily produced track, with swirling orchestration and solo trumpet, the over all sound emphasising the similarities with the MANICs.

The album closes with "Knights of Cydonia", a retro laden burst of driving rock with URIAH HEEP overtones, especially in the harmonic interruptions.

Being honest, this is not a progressive rock album. Indeed, there is little here to offer any sort of listening challenge at all. This is mature pop rock, professionally composed and performed, but always with an eye on chart success. If your tastes extend to such music, there is much for you to enjoy here.

Footnote, it is a significant that the album insert includes details on how to obtain ring tones of the tracks for your mobile phone. Can you envisage the Flower Kings for example including such an offer any time soon?

Report this review (#84511)
Posted Saturday, July 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
hdfisch
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars POP GOES PROG??

I'm currently checking out a couple of modern (more or less) progressive bands like TMV (most experimental), Kayo Dot (most innovative), Riverside (most captivating) and now as well MUSE (most poppy or shall I say most rubbish?). Actually I'm aware of this highly RADIOHEAD-related band since right from their beginning and even watched them live already (just incredibly noisy and not really enjoyable). I liked to listen their debut back in 1999/2000 but this was happening during days I mostly listened to Alternative Rock. Meanwhile I discovered trillions of modern bands that are 1000x better than them I've to say. I could not say that there is that much improvement present here on their latest output compared to their debut or the follow-ups. I would even claim they're sounding worse here, a sort of mix between post-punk/emo, synthie pop and indie rock. There are hints to bands/artists like DEPECHE MODE, U 2 and PRINCE and probably many others I'm not aware of and actually even don't want to be. Two or three songs like "Take A Bow" and "City Of Delusion" are at least moderately enjoyable offering a very slight resemblance to metal prog at times. Many reviewers name "Knights of Cydonia" as a great song but I would call it just a rather good one nice for 1 or 2 spins before it starts becoming boring. Admittedly I listened only once to this album (not sure yet whether I should give it another spin), but honestly I don't think that more repeats are necessary for enabling me to rate this work. To be called as still good (just at the border and in the context of PROG RELATED) and possibly useful as a "Young people's guide to more advanced music"!

Report this review (#84600)
Posted Sunday, July 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars What a great album! I was blown away when I first heard it. The opener 'Take A Bow' is very dramatic and bombastic. It's written against G.W. Bush, like many bands are doing these days. 'Starlight' (a very potential single) is a typical Muse-song. Romantic and sad at the same time. 'Supermassive Back Hole' sounds like Prince in his glory days. Amazing song. 'Map Of The Problematique' is one of my favorites. The chords in the beginning are beautiful. 'Soldier's Poem' is a smooth song. It brings rest between the loud songs Muse is making. 'Invincible' is variated in her beats and sound-effects. Good song. 'Exo-politics' isn't too special for me, judge by yourself. The best part of the album has yet to come. The last three songs are so good.. 'City Of Delusion' contains some Arabic influences and nice guitar-work. 'Hoodoo' is a bit 'wild-west-stuff' with typical bombastic Muse-noise. The closer 'Knights Of Cydonia' is the highlight. There's some Rush-stuff to be found here. The song is looking for a proper direction, but finally, singer Matt Bellamy starts to scream from various voices "No one's gonna take me alive, time has come to make things right. You and I must fight for our rights, you and I must fight to survive." With these words, the album closes. Muse's best work in 45 minutes. Get this album!!
Report this review (#84898)
Posted Thursday, July 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Corrupt, you're corrupt. Bring corruption to all that you touch. Behold, you'll behold. And behold them for all that you've done." - Take a Bow As an impact of my recent involvement in a rock music organization which was just recently established - we named it as i-Rock!, my musical horizon expanded as I deal with people who are much younger than me. So, I was encouraged to have some try of much modern kind of rock music like Coldplay, System of a Down, My Chemical Romance, Pearl Jam, REM,etc. Well .. a lot actually. I tried some of them and like Coldplay is OK with me because I think Marillion Marbles is similar like Coldplay. I realized that in an interview Ian Mosley - Marillion's drummer - is a big fan of Coldplay. This might be why Marbles has a bit colour of Coldplay music. I even like some albums of Pearl Jam. What I'm doing is basically like Dieter Fischer who was checking out a couple of modern bands. Oh yes, I learn that enjoying other kinds of music would definitely enrich my knowledge and equip me better as a prog reviewer. As I said when reviewing Muse previous album "Absolution", this is the music for my son and I intentionally purchased it for him. I spin many times before I finally write this review. As I know the band in a very limited period, I think this album is better than the previous one (LOL probably it's because I'm getting familiar with this kind of music now while when I wrote a review on Absolution I was like forcing myself to enjoy the kmusic). One thing for sure when I started enjoying this album I always read the sleeve notes to get the lyrics of each song and I think that is the strong point of this album: good lyrics. "Take A Bow" (4:35) kicks off the album with a full blown synthesizer-drenched music demonstrating a dragging vocal line with political lyrics. I think government officials of any country should enjoy this song while reading the lyrical verse. "Death, you bring death. And destruction to all that you touch. Pay, you must pay. You must pay for your crimes against the earth. Hate, feed the hate. Feed the hate of the country you love.." - with this kind of lyrics, needless to say how powerful the lyrics. The music is a combination of space and new age styles.

"Starlight" (3:59) takes the new age style much more obvious. When I say it's a new age style it's the kind of music Robert Miles plays. This song also reminds me to 80's bands like Ultravox, Alphaville, Orchestral Maneuver In The Dark, etc. blended with Radiohead. Lyrically this song tals about science fiction : black holes and revelations.

"Supermassive Black Hole" (3:28) brings an upbeat music with programmed or electronic drumming and manipulated singing style (not using the original voice). The rhythm section is something that sounds like soft riffs which combines guitar, keyboard / synthesizer and electronic drumming. Definitely, this song is very accessible to many ears.

"Map Of The Problematique" (4:17) starts with a bit distorted guitar sounds followed with new age music typical kind of music that Robert Miles plays. The only difference is that this Muse version includes vocal line which is done in a dragging style. You might consider this music with spacey-cosmic nuance in similar nature with those recorded by pop group Alphaphille. The only difference is that probably the short insert which shows repeated drum (electronic) beats in the middle of the track.

I consider that "Soldier's Poem" (2:03) is the band's naughty exploration to a weird (?) combination of oldies music (something which resembles a song that starts with a lyrical part like "Willingly ..." - well I cannot remember well who sung this oldies song of the 60/70 - it could be Matt Monro, Andy Williams, or Tom Jones?) with serious political lyrics showing an anger to Government who send soldiers to war. Musically, it sounds like a humor to me because I can get the oldies nuance as well as Queen's typical choral section. But, lyrically it's a serious song "How could you send us so far away from home when you know damn well that this is wrong.".

"Invincible" (4:59) starts with ambient sounds of synthesizer, howling guitar followed with "fills" and marching drum mixed softly at the background. This might picture the nuance of a war. Vocal enters in dragging style (as usual). The guitar (or synthesizer?) short solo before the drum beats roll into the music is nice.

"Assassin" (3:29) is truly an upbeat music that reminds me to Dream Theater's "Never Enough". Well .. as you know it that this Dream Theater's song was directly influenced by Muse "Absolution" album. But this "Assassin" really reminds me to "Never Enough" because I get used to Octavarium album already. It's probably Muse' answer to Dream Theater's heavily influenced by Muse music in "Never Enough". I like this song very much especially with its fast tempo, rocking style (with modern sounds, of course) and good music riffs.You might sense that this song is also influenced by Queen.

"Exo-Politics" (3:52) is to me like a new-wave song with firm drum beats and dragging singing style. Most people would definitely enjoy the beats and riffs of this song. I like the cosmic synthesizer at the background. This song is accessible to those who rock! I especially like the chorus part "I am waiting patiently. I'll wait for the sign" and it's followed with short guitar solo. Very nice and it's rocking!

"City Of Delusion" (4:47) gives a flamenco nuance at the opening especially with the use f acoustic guitar rhythm to accompany the vocal line. What's so interesting is the insert of synthesizer sounds which resemble the eastern music nuance, combined with good guitar rhythm and synthesizer effects. There is also trumpet work in the middle of the track. Brilliant! I do enjoy this track.

"Hoodoo" (3:42) starts differently with guitar solo followed with low register vocal line - which makes this song is different compared to other tracks. It's a mellow opening. The singing style is similar to Thom Yorke of Radiohead. After lyrical verse which says "Why ..wy is this crisis in your eyes .." the music moves suddenly into higher register notes with "Come to be how did it come to be ...". Oh, I consider this as prog song even though the structure is straightforward, but it has richness in music textures.

"Knights Of Cydonia" (6:04) brings the album into fast tempo music, upbeat style exploring the synthesizer sounds and drum beats (mixed modernly so t sounds like an electric drumming). The music flows naturally and it has an energetic style. The choir line in the middle is nice and powerful with background music using a mixed of textures combining Pink Floyd, Robert Miles, Radiohead and classic rock guitar riffs (mixed in modern sounds). It's a cool music ...

"Glorious" (4:38) is not available from my CD - it's probably a bonus track which I'm sure it's another excellent track.

Well .. well guys ... how should I conclude this album? If you happened to read the above long review, you might expect me to give at least four stars. Indeed you are right even though I once in doubt because most likely the readers of this site coming from "Old School" of prog music - those who adore Pink Floyd, Genesis, King Crimson, ELP and the like as "true" prog music and consider the rest is "not" prog. I can consider myself into that box of category - sometime. But, when I think deeply on how the music of Muse "Black Holes and Revelations" flows naturally into my ears and it sends acceptance signal into my mind and at the end it truly stirs my emotion, I then come back to my simple definition of music: "Music is emotion" - so, this album really rules me! That's why, without any doubt at all I give my full four stars rating for this album - regardless this is prog or not. Who does care, actually ...? Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#84900)
Posted Thursday, July 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars I'm not the biggest fan of Muse, but this album has been praised to the heavens, so I picked it up.

"Take A Bow" is a sort of intro, quite spacey and very familiar sounding, like a lot of Muse songs, as they tend to repeat a lot of their sounds. It's pretty epic.

"Starlight" was one of my instantly loveable tracks. It's poppy and makes great use of the keyboards. It's going to be the second single from this album, and rightly so.

"Supermassive Black Hole" is the first single, and I don't understand why people say it's unlike Muse. To me it sounds like the trademark Muse sound. It's an okay song, not my favourite. I don't like their venture into the techno side of things with this one.

"Map Of The Problematique" is an amazing song. It makes use of the keyboards again but really progresses. Probably more epic than "Take A Bow", but is not best described that way. It's quite an electronicy song.

"Soldiers Poem" is a short little number and is just basically a repeated sample and Matt Bellamy's soft voice doing the build-up thing that he has done a lot in his career.

I despise "Invincible". It just sounds cheesy and I've heard so many songs similar in style to it. The worst song on the album.

"Assassin" is a pretty heavy song, and goes pretty insane. It's pretty much the song "Invincible" wants to be, almost like a heavy advance of it.

"Exo-Politics" is a pretty boring track, like a lot of the songs on this album mixed into one. It doesn't really go anywhere and none of it's really catchy.

"City Of Delusion" is a really full sounding and expansive song. It uses a lot of instruments, including an acoustic guitar and some orchestral sounding instrumentals, too.

"Hoodoo" is soft, almost like an orchestral score, using heavy piano sounds and build-up style drums.

"Knight Of Cydonia" is the most progressive style song on the album. It builds up a lot and the end explodes into an exciting finale.

Overall, this album is nothing special and a few songs drag it down. It's not one many Progressive Fans should really get excited over, as it doesn't really break any boundaries, but it's a good album that should be heard either way.

Report this review (#87516)
Posted Thursday, August 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
evenless
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars MUSE - Black Holes And Revelations

According to the definition of progressive rock "prog" is an ambitious, eclectic, and often grandiose style of rock music. Progressive rock bands try to "progress" rock music to the point that it could achieve the sophistication of jazz or classical music. It is admired by its fans for its complexity, requiring a high level of musical virtuosity to perform.

Revering to this definition I don't think MUSE is a progressive rock band. I even doubt if their music is prog-related. Their music seems to be a bit in the middle of rock and pop. It is like they are not sure whether to be a commercial pop band like "MAROON5" scoring hits on your local radio and MTV or whether they want to be taken seriously as a big rock band like U2.

This mixture of pop and rock might lead to the idea that they make progressive music, but I seriously doubt that. I don't think their compositions are very complex or sophisticated at all. Having said that, I still think they make quite enjoyable music. MUSE seems to mix rock instruments with some computer generated sounds. Together with the distinct voice of Matthew Bellamy I think they have quite an authentic sound which makes them really "MUSE". Not a bad album on itself, but definitely not an album anyone will remember in ten years from now either.

Report this review (#92160)
Posted Tuesday, September 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
semismart
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars If you are wondering if Muse's fourth studio album - Black Holes and Revelations is good, let me assure you, it is not only good, it's bloody well GREAT.

I thank my son for turning me on to Muse. Honestly, they are about the only thing musically that we have agreed upon recently. We used to have some common likes in the nineties but both traveled different roads in Y2K, he going the Hip Hop route and I heading to Europe for a dose of Femme and Symphonic Metal.

Muse of course, is neither, although they are European (UK). In the case of Black Holes and Revelations, their music is so wildly varied it defies labeling. From the angelic, harpy sounding, bombastic lead song - "Take a Bow," to the catchy rock song with piano and a strong beat - "Starlight," to the funky bass driven sound and high pitched falsetto vocal of Matt Bellamy - "Supermassive Black Hole," one might suspect they were listening to three separate bands.

Following songs like the complex, involved - "Map of the Problematique," the short but sweet slow ballad - "Soldier's Poem," the spacey Floydish slow paced, building toward a crescendo - "Invincible," to the speedy guitar driven - "Assassin," would only reinforce the feeling of different bands playing different music but sharing the same lead singer.

"Exo-Politics," a medium speed, percussion led rock number, is followed by the wonderfully complex flamenco sounding, "City of Delusion." The flamenco influence continues in, "Hoodoo," but is interrupted by a strong classical and operatic intrusion of piano and vocals. The last song, "Knights of Cydonia," is a kaleidoscope of interesting sounds and Queenesque vocal harmonies, set to a galloping beat. It is close, but this gets my vote for best song.

Conclusion

It took four long years for the band to come up with a follow-up to there hit album, Absolution, but the wait was worth it. In my estimation, they not only equaled Absolution with Black Holes and Revelations but eclipsed it.

When listening to Muse I cannot help but make comparisons to the mega band of the eighties and nineties - Queen. Yes, there are definite similarities to that wondrous band: diverse, eclectic song writing, ranging from the simplistic to the grandiose; style and delivery are in many cases similar to Queen; composition and arrangements also resemble Queen and lastly their vocals and harmonizing again, remind me of Queen. Yet, with all the similarities they are so different. Yes they remind me of Queen but I didn't say the sound like Queen. Maybe a little here and there but overall, they're Muse.

Until now my favorite Muse album was Origin of Symmetry. I doubt whether I will get Black Holes and Revelations out of my Cd player for awhile. It's not the kind of album that gets old very fast - five stars.

Report this review (#94015)
Posted Tuesday, October 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
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!

Report this review (#98723)
Posted Tuesday, November 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars Muse has been a important band to form my musical taste of today. Their distinctive sound on "Origins of Symmetry" and "Absolution" fascinated me when I even had never heard of the term "progressive rock". Therefore it was out of question for me that i had to check, how these guys had developed since these mentioned releases.

In the last few years my musical interest has changed from more main orientated rock to the progressive genre, so ofcourse I judge bands like Muse in a different way now than before. Still I think that they can write very good and enjoyable music as they did on former records. Unfortunately, this is only true for a small portion of "Black Holes and Revelations". Yes, in fact, I have been heavily disappointed with their recent effort.

"Take a Bow": The intro consists of one single chord progression typical for Muse which lasts for the whole track (more than four! minutes). For the first few listenings it sounds interesting because of its spacey feel, but the lack of variety makes it very poor for its lenght. (2/5)

"Starlight": This pop song is catchy as few Muse songs are. However, for me its just too simple structured to stand out. It is just a standard rock ballad you could hear anytime on the radio (oh surprise, it was chosen as a single). It also contains the most annoying bass playing I have ever heard. (1.5/5)

"Supermassive Black Hole": It is the other single, and is therefore also kept mainstream-friendly. This song has even a bit of a techno-feel to it, mainly during its chorus. It really does nothing for me. (1.5/5)

"Map of the Problematique": The electronic sound continues in this song, but it is a bit more epic feel and a interesting break-down at 2:10. Other than that it is once again way too repitative. (3/5).

"Soldier's Poem": This is a short interlude, very dreamy, not good, not bad. (2.5/5)

"Invincible": The cheesiest song on the whole album. Atleast, at 3:30 it sounds like the song would get interesting, but it ends in a boring synthesizer part, followed with guitar-effects, totally out of place, and ends as bad as it begins. (1/5)

"Assassin": A very energetic and hectic number. It really gets going and it probably even better played live. Typical metal Muse song so nothing special. (3/5)

"Exo-Politics": It starts with a heavy but slower riff than in the last song. In the middle there is a short guitar melody part, but other than that I have to voice the same criticism as with "Assassin". (3/5)

"City of Delusion": Here finally is the song I have waited for: the best song on the album, and in my opinion a masterpiece. It starts with a nice guitar, in the second verse strings appear which then play a very important role during the whole track. The chorus sounds amazing, and even the next verse is shaped interestingly with synthesizers. Later, after a short guitar break: a trumpet solo! This is something which I had never expected Muse to include into one of their songs. All these little aspects bring "City of Delusion" to a whole new level. (5/5)

"Hoodoo": A short interlude follows, starting with spanish guitar riffing! Then it turns into a nice ballad which even becomes epic in the end. (3/5)

"Knights of Cydonia": Another very interesting track. Like "City", it makes great use of orchestra and especially of the brass section. Heavy riffs are alternating with epic and more melodic parts. In the end it is a bit repetative, but because it closes the album this does not strike attention negatively. (4.9/5).

The album starts horrible but ends perfectly. Sadly, most songs are better forgotten very soon but atleast there are two perles on it to save "Black Holes and Revelations" from its total demise. For everyone I can truly recommend the songs "City of Delusion" and "Knights of Cydonia", so try to get hold of them! The rest is just for die-hard Muse-fans but definitely not for average prog-listeners. (Average 2.7/5, but I can't give it more than two stars due to the vast amount of below- or just standard songs (35min of 45min) )

Report this review (#99139)
Posted Thursday, November 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
TRoTZ
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars With Black Holes and Revelations, Muse changed a bit their direction, after the acclaimed Absolution. The album is far more cohesive, functioning as a concept album, with a start, a development and one end. Muse are capable of transforming a bunch of good songs into a glorious trip, an energetic and glorious epic feeling, with traces of space-rock and sophisticated electronic, one of the kind almost majestically and compelling enough to grab us from our comfortable, quiet seat to start a new era, a new Humankind. They achieved to make a intelligently quite unique sonority, though owing some of their aesthetics to the masters of sonic rock energy, Queen.

The band was clever to know the way to progress in their sound, incorporating more electronics. The album opens with the glorious "Take a Bow", reminiscent of post-rock and certainly an excellent way to open an album. The song progresses, in a haunting crescendo way, from a quiet whisper and their characteristic psychic arpeggios, to a hypnotic space chaos ending, as Bellamy takes it into political direction. The album gets further with a more simple approach, with the incisive ballad "Starlight" and the space-robot-like "Supermassive Black Hole". Space-dance-driven music gets its peak with "Map of problematique", the most electronic of the badge, while "Assassin" is the rockiest, as the band answers to Dream Theater's plagiarism in their latest album. "Invencible" shows the band's sensibility, evoked on the felt guitar introduction and the great epic solo. The album ends epically with the inspired "Knights of Cydonia", perhaps the best of the album, an energetic song decomposed in three structures whilst Bellamy gives the final effort to change a resigned society "No one's gonna take me alive, Time has come to make things right, You and I must fight for our rights... You and I must fight to survive!".

There is no band who gives so much power and passion, in the meddles of a space-epic way. They had the cleverness of making, in a way which could please the mainstream masses, a completely different album. A 45 minutes epic.

Report this review (#103592)
Posted Tuesday, December 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I have been a fan of prog from Yes and Pink Floyd days and recently have been discovering new bands, sometimes courtesy of this excellent site. The two bands that don't get many reviews here are Muse and The Secret Machines.

Back to this CD. Whilst every track has different styles to them in a funny way they all meld into each other. See other reviews.

Take the first track : Take a Bow.This is typical of the style of the CD - if you like this you will like the whole CD. It has an energetic and almost orchestral start, building up with swirling synthesisers to a crescendo and culminating in Matt Bellamy's wails and falsetto. His voice is like another instrument and is used very flexibly. Similar to Yes, listeners will probably either love or hate his voice but you can't ignore it.

This is energetic music and like modern music has a much faster beat than music of the 1970s. It has great drumming.

It is joyful, uplifting complex music. For me its not in doubt ithat its progrerssive music, but more than that, it is just brilliant.

Try it, buy it and enjoy it. No question 5 stars.

Report this review (#104648)
Posted Wednesday, December 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
Moatilliatta
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Upon hearing the piloting single for Black Holes and Revelations, "Supermassive Black Hole," many fans were considerably puzzled by what Muse had put forth and what they should be expecting for the rest of the album. While the band should get some credit for trying new things, the song was a bizarre Price meets Fatboy Slim experience that surely would throw anybody who had expectations off. It was different, it was fun, but was it what they wanted to hear? Not really. Concerned fans who may have gone searching for something, anything else off of the album to relieve their dismay probably came across the second single, "Knights of Cydonia," which turned out to be a six minute proggy masterpiece, definitely enough to satiate any fans need to clarify how the album was going to be. Though it too had some ideas that we haven't quite heard from them before, it retained more of the sound that fans were looking for. It went from a medium paced, western themed spacey first part (interesting combo ay?) to a super high mulity-vocal harmony (done acapella) followed by a flat-out awesome rocking end which later reintroduced the vocal line from prior on top of it which created a mesmerising end. Any skeptics could be sure that whatever it was they were doing, it was worth hearing.

So, what was the rest of the album like? Well, track one, "Take a Bow" shows the band bringing the synths to the foreground, a fresh trend throughout much of the album. They generate an entirely new atmosphere to the bands music and they are used vey effacaciously. This track is an obvious political statement and there should be no question as to who it's directed at. While I generally do not fancy those lyrics, the song itself is quite cool. Next track, "Starlight," is a very, very good pop song. Muses creativity and Bellamy's huge, extremely capable voice make what would be an ordinary song a great song here. This one is followed by "Supermassive Black Hole," which is admittedly much better when listened to among the rest of the album. Then we have another more simple song made incredible in "Map of the Problematique." From here we have Queen-esque vocal harmnized acoustic guitar balled in "Soldier's Poem," followed by the inspirational "Invincible." It is at this point that Muse really start rocking. "Assassin" is a relatively fast-paced thrashy rocker, borderline metal guitars lead this one, until Bellamy's voice takes over of course. I would have to mention that the vocals are supreme as they always have been, but the presentation and sound of the vocals, and the band as a whole has never sounded better. This album is powerful and captivating in atmosphere and in melody. "Exo-Politics" is a slower yet heavy piece. "City of Delusion" will really get you in all of its splendor. There is a hispanic feel to this one during the verses, an orchestral arrangement and even a trumpet solo. The chorus explodes with such force. This is one of the rare examples of Muse really expanding heir territory influence wise and not just improving on their firm-founded sound. Other than one part in the middle, "Hoodoo" is a very atmospheric piece, and is really the only piece on the album that we can compare them to Radiohead - an inescapable comparison up until this point. And then "Knights of Cydonia" brings this one home.

Muse have finally come into their own with this one. They can finally break free of that binding Radiohead comparison [for the most part]. These songs sound huge, and it's easily the bands best output yet. 4.5 stars

Report this review (#104670)
Posted Wednesday, December 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
imoeng
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Black Holes and Revelations

Black Holes and Revelations is my second album from Muse after I was introduced to the Absolution album. A quite important moment because by the time you start to recognise a new band, the first album you buy is very important, because then you know what kind of band it is. Well when I listened to songs in Absolution, rock band, alternative, possibly Brit kind of band crossed my mind. When I said rock, I mean real hard rock band.

That is why Black Holes and Revelations suits my ear really well, because it offers what I expect from Muse's songs. As a comparison to Absolution, the songs in this album present nice emotion and the songs are heavy too, with cool instrumentation. The difference, which I don't really like, is Muse used more sound effects and experimentations in this album, although it made this album quite unique.

Honestly I was quite disappointed when I listened to this album for the first time. As usual, I always listen to an album from track one to the last track consecutively, so I can grab the emotion of the album. I like the first track, it gives me a nice feeling of the album. The second track is also a very nice song, quite heavy and I could hear the main line of the album, "Black holes and revelations". However, the third song disappointed me, because it hardly has any heavy rock element. Since the beginning of the song, Muse used some sort of sound effect, without any rock element. At that moment, I stopped listening to the album for awhile. But the other tracks are cool, at least they are cooler than Supermassive Black Hole. The offer a very good element of rock, and some of them have very cool solos with nice drum fills, just like the song Invincible (track 6), for example.

The only thing I like least from this album is the experiments and sound effects that they did. Heavy songs in Absolution did 150% for me, and I love every single one of them. While in Black Holes and Revelations, some songs do not have it all. Nonetheless it is a very good album and is worth-buying. I gave Absolution four stars and I like it more than this album, but three stars will not reflect this album the way it is, so I will give four stars as well. If you like Absolution the you will like this.

Take a bow - Imoeng

Report this review (#110531)
Posted Saturday, February 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
1 stars This album is quite boring and pretty awful. Muse sound has always been made up of different elements, like classical music-influenced chords progression, Majestic arrangements, lyrics themes like paranoia and drama, to keep up the interest in the work...since this. This album is very poor, since it doesn't reflect the band sound, and its style; all trough the album you can listen the band's will to explore new boundaries, anyway the result is chaotic and disappointing; the listener's attenction will soon decay, in fact the only interesting tracks on the album are "Take A Bow" and "Super Massive Black Hole", the rest is simply not inspired - music: the apex of this not so enjoyable music experience, which Black Holes And Revelations is, is the track called "Starlight", an awful pop song, repetitive, and too much radio friendly.

Save your money and DON'T buy this album, go get "Absolution", or even the previous ones, the real Muse style is within those works, not in this one.

Report this review (#112876)
Posted Tuesday, February 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Wow.

I was not expecting much more than indie/pop- rock with slightly more keyboards (thereby making it "prog" in many peoples eyes). What I got was completely different.

I got an incredible album. Mattew Bellamy's voice, while similar to Thom Yorke's, is extremely powerful and definitely the driving force behind Muse's "sound".

While certainly not prog in the purest sense, Black Holes and Revelations does have a progressive edge to it. This Progressive edge is best shown in the songs Take A Bow and Knights Of Cydonia. I wont go into each song but I will say that the album is pretty solid all the way through. Even the weaker songs have their moments that make you listen to the song again. The use of almost Queen like vocal harmonies and effects helps these more (in my opinion) boring songs stay interesting. So there is no real weak point of this album.

I love this album A lot. I've listened to it about 7 times in the last 3 days and I'm listening to it as I type this.

BUY THIS ALBUM!!

You wont get an album that pushes the boundaries of music or opens your ears to new ideas, but you will get 45 mins of incredible music.

Report this review (#117683)
Posted Monday, April 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After reviewing Muse's previous album, ABSOLUTION, now I'll share a few words about their latest release, 2006's BLACK HOLES AND REVELATIONS.

Following such an incredible masterpiece is quite a difficult task for any band to fulfill. There's always the risk of the band choosing the safe path: recording an album very similar to the one heralded as their best. There's always the possibility that the musicians decide to go the other way around and release a record in a totally different style, with the risk of annoying their fans and losing what they accomplished with the preceding opus. And there's somewhat of a middle path, with the group making a few changes to their sound experience while not altering the main elements that led them to success in the first place. So, what road did Muse choose to travel on?

For sure, what we have here is an album with the traditional Muse characteristics: interesting textures, piano arpeggios and cascading figures, a mix of Brit-pop and rock with progressive elements and even some metal details here and there. The band hasn't deviated completely from the norm established in their 2003 opus-magnum. But some changes in sound have been made. The main one: the band has focused in the "pop" side of their sound a lot more than in ABSOLUTION, and has toned down their progressiveness a little bit. Sonically, the experience is still Muse, but even more accessible, more radio-ready. Attention. This is still great music, great rock music, if less "proggy" and more "poppy" than before.

Take A Bow (8/10) We think we're on a small one-engine airplane traveling across clouds and skies. Then we arrive to an electronica oasis, the mood gets heavier. The atmosphere gets more technified, from an insignificant 1920's airplane we've jumped to the outer limits of the sky. This song signals the start of a journey, one that will lead us to unexpected places. Good song.

Starlight (9/10) We are in pure pop/rock territory now. A simple, Brit-pop rhythm adorned with efficient, seducing piano chords. An optimistic song, there's no way around it. Even with Bellamy's dramatic voice going over it, there's no alternative but to wait for the better after this song, which again takes us to the skies with a bridge full of flying, oscillating notes. A very good song.

Supermassive Black Hole (8/10) A fast, grooving rhythm opens the song. We're reminded of Weiland here. Then the vocals in falsetto fashion, with some Prince flavor to them. This is almost pure pop. But that doesn't mean it's bad, and is actually good.

Map Of The Problematique (9.5/10) The start is pure pop/new-age bliss, a techno-like rhythm and some fleeting piano chords here and there. The song continues to grow in its seductive power and by the time the ultra-pop pop arrives, we don't care anymore about the need for extreme progressive elements, as we've already realized we're listening to excellent music nevertheless. Great track.

Soldier's Poem (7/10) Suddenly we're in the 60's, with a super soft, quiet, whispering little tune that reminds us of songs that have nothing to do with rock as "A wonderful world". Halfway down the track we hear the vocal harmonies that got many people comparing this to Queen. A decent track, not my favorite.

Invincible (6.5/10) Another soaring, over-the-clouds beginning, with flying notes in guitar over a marching snare drum. Another happy track, a little repetitive for me. Near the end we hear a riff much reminiscent of "Hysteria" in ABSOLUTION, then we hear a weird guitar solo, and soon the song will be over. The two latter elements I mentioned save this song from getting the first "boring" label from me for any Muse track.

Assassin (8/10) This starts with one of those riffs that Muse surely knows how to pull off and that remind us of DT in OCTAVARIUM. The chorus is good but no match for the best song Muse has ever produced, "Stockholm Syndrome", nor for the best on this album, which is still to come.

Exo-Politics (8.5/10) A somewhat weird, cut-down theme strikes us as very absurd, and then it grows into a more rocky, energetic song. Then the chorus arrives and we are in Muse's Palace of Delights again. One of those dramatic choruses that this band played to perfection in the previous output. The first section of the song is not much to my liking, so it takes away from what could've been a superb track.

City Of Delusion (10/10) We've been waiting for this album's "Stockholm Syndrome" and finally it's arrived (though not near the level of magnificence of that song). A rhythmical, Spanish-flavored acoustic start followed by an energetic middle section and a truly spectacular chorus, with pure drama, kinetic energy, suffering, lamenting strings and frenetic drums. The song explores different territories and is the not only the most progressive but also the best in the album (one thing doesn't necessarily lead to the other, but in this case, it did.)

Hoodoo (9/10) Some flamenco-painted guitars, but not acoustic guitars, kick off this song in style. It starts very slowly, sounding a lot like Radiohead. It gets more dreamy, more foggy. Halfway down the track we get to a section when the piano makes its much-expected reappearance with powerful, tragic chords. A theatre, that's where this song takes us to, a stage where passion, love, hate and drama is portrayed. Excellent.

Knights Of Cydonia (9.5/10) For a moment we're in western-territory. We turn our head looking for the gunfighter. Then the main section blasts off with pure energy, the force of a thousand horses. Some trumpets and weird effects join in the charge of the Knights. The middle section is almost epic in nature, heroic, this is an unusual track for Muse, a band full of unusual stuff. From Purple to Floyd, the band surely shows they've heard a lot of different music, and that's the only recipe for becoming a good musician.

As a final word, let's say Muse's BLACK HOLES AND REVELATIONS fails to live-up to the quality of its predecessor, but then again, that was most surely an almost impossible goal to achieve. What the British trio has done here is taking the same formula, incorporated more pop elements in their sonic experience, tone-down their riffs a little, and deliver a quite satisfactory collection of light, optimistic, accessible songs. What we miss a little bit is the drama, the sense of theatricality, and most of all, the powerful piano chords of ABSOLUTION. What made that album a masterpiece is not completely absent here, but relatively more scarce, difficult to find.

A 4 star album anyway, worthy of addition to any collection. If this wasn't a prog site, maybe I'd kick the rating a notch, to a 4.5. But whereas in ABSOLUTION the songs were so good that we could evade the prog-obligation and gave the album a 5, here we have to settle for the imperfect rating, as we have a couple not-so-good tracks to speak of.

Recommended for: Fans of light prog; fans of Brit-pop/rock and rock in general; fans of pop/rock.

Not recommended for: Fans of ultra-progressive rock; people that just dislike any hint of pop in their rock. This album has quite a truck-load of those. And fans of Muse that think they will be getting ABSOLUTION Part II.

.I think such an album is just impossible to follow.

Report this review (#118750)
Posted Tuesday, April 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars After the very impressive and progressive but rather out-of-character Absolution, was Muse further their adventurous musical investigation past their last album. Unfortunately, Bellamy, Howard and Wolstenholme did not choose that direction, but rather opting to return to the usual formula of Origin Of Symmetry. In that regard the Thorgesson-like artwork is rather deceiving.

Right from the opening track Take a bow, the binary rhythm warns you that whatever was so pleasing in Absolution is not going to be as prominent. Muse still sounds typically Muse though, which means a savant mix of Radiohead, U2 and REM, and if they haven't exactly invented hot water, they do sound entertaining enough to last at least half the album without tiring this listener. However, the bombardment of the same type of sound and repetitive tunes is rather wearisome, and I haven't been able to stand more than 20 minutes at a time, which coincides with half the album, one of the pleasant surprises is that this album turns around the ideal album-length.

If the short Soldier's Poem has a tiny Mercury/Queen vocal twinge, the would-be title track (it mentions the album title in the chorus) Starlight is probably the best track around along with Invincible and the Motorhead-like opening riff of Assassin. Also worthy of notice is Exo-politics. But the major setback I found is that the fantastic Rachmaninov piano (enlightening so joyously Absolution) is completely absent, but is partly made-up by the rather frantic drumming. A few ethnic lines (first Arabian then Conquistador-like) are spread in City Of Delusion (as-well as a slight-flamenco bass line in Hoodoo), do not make this album progressive especially given that a lot of Porcupine Trees influences have disappeared.

Unfortunately, what provided an excellent surprise (Absolution, will also likely be an exception, because Bellamy 1 Co have decided to return to their formulaic "alternative" rock that had created their original success in the first place. Thus ending all hopes for progheads to move their PA entry to a full-blown progressive category. While a deception for this writer, this album will likely please most of the band's numerous fans

Report this review (#120107)
Posted Sunday, April 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
el böthy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3,5 really... but more of a 3 than a 4

So, Muse took 3 years from their previous album, the very successful and masterpiece of modern music, Absolution and the wait might have been a bit too long, but the result is quite nice, so I don't complain. Black holes and Revelations shows us a band, that already peaked but does not sleep in their achievements because of that. so what did they do? They changed (just a bit. what do you expect, Crimson.?) their sound and approach, making some very poppy, yet great tunes (Starlight, Invincible) while throwing some bizarre pomp rock here and there (Take a bow, Supermassive black hole, Knights of Cydonia) and everything in between with a quasi metal tune like Assassin, to the Mexican sounding City of Delusion. that even counts with a trumpet solo. From all this I must say the best ones are the first 5 mentioned songs, those are the poppy ones and the pomp rockers, which are also their proggiest ones. Sadly there are also some weak tracks. Soldier's poem, a short track that consists basically of Bellamy singing while he plays some simple guitar is not very memorable, seems like a filler to be honest. Exo-Politics well could be a track that did not get into Absolution, and rightfully so. Hoodoo is also quite weak, it takes some time to get somewhere, and by the time it reaches that point it's no longer interesting. Overall it's a great album, more if you listen to it keeping in mind that this is NOT a prog album and that this is NOT a prog band, there are some proggy splashes here and there, but not many, in fact even less and those in Absolution

Report this review (#120681)
Posted Thursday, May 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
Menswear
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Entertaining.

This album convinced me of one thing: Muse will reach many people and certainly more girls with that album. There's so much hooks in terms of melody in this album! Every song has a riff, a voice effect or a keyboard line that will catch your attention...in a british pop way. Even if they hardened their sound (again), Muse is to me a commercial band with an 'anti-clique' attitude, just like Radiohead in the 90's. Oh, they're going to be big, that's for sure, but they won't show that they like it...Muse is heading towards FM stations with at least 5 titles (tracks 2,3,4,9,11) with a blend of Queen (backing vocals), Radiohead (lead vocals) and Ayreon (guitars and keyboards).

This record is a clear marketing move of being nu-metal with a bleeding heart. The songs are catchy as mentionned, but they still have those same emo-teenage-boo-hoo lyrics and vocals that bugged me so much in the first album. Whatever their sins, Muse are exceptionnally good musicians that rocks hard and steady in the drums and guitars sections, so have your toupet well glued in certain tracks.

A nice and entertaining but very commercial album with a lot of snappy tunes and emotive appeal.

Be sure to watch a lot of teenage girlie girls with a Muse T-shirt this summer.

Report this review (#123101)
Posted Tuesday, May 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars It took almost three years to Muse to produce a new studio release after their excellent "Absolution" album (five stars on my scale). What has changed in the meantime ? Well, lots of things.

"Muse" has reached stardom, they have extensively toured and won an impressive number of awards not only in Britain but throughout Europe. They are almost top of the bill in the major summer festivals and they are really awesome on stage (I've seen them once). So, "Muse" is doing well on all front, thank you.

With the opening number, it seems to me that they try to recreate "Absolution". The intro of "Take A Bow" is somewhat similar to "Apocalypse". A great way to start an album. But I wouldn't be as positive for most of the songs of this album. The album starts very powerfully with a very good trio of songs, even if "Supermassive Black Hole" has a surprisingly funky mood.

"Soldier's Poem" is another melancholic ballads a la "Unintended" (one more). It is definitely not that side of the band I like the best and unlike "Santana" who has reproduced at least ten times the great "Samba Pa' Ti" with inspiration (maybe one blunder) , "Muse" do not succeed in doing so here. I'm as well very reluctant in applauding blindly a song like "Invisible". A bit boring (except for the last minute).

Another couple of good and vigourous numbers with "Assassin" and "Exo-Politics".

With the notioceable exception of "Absolution" which was a strong album from start to finish, "Muse" 's records were far much less interesting during the last few numbers. So, what about "Black Holes" ?

Well "City" has its ups and down. Actually the ups are there when the downs aren't. The addition of orchestration reminding some Oriental mood is not really my cup of tea. The Spanish guitar intro for "Hoodoo" is interesting, but the song takes a while to lift off; again the orchestration is a bit too much.

The longest track of this album "Knights Of Cydonia" with his house beat is a track too much for most of it. Once you have passed the long and boring intro (over two minutes ) it's getting better, but still nothing great I'm afraid. It sounds completely outdated and only the last part of the song is appealing to my ears.

Don't expect too much of the bonus track, a long instrumental intro (over a minute) leads to an average "Muse" song. But to me it sounds pretty much as a draft song, that would have needed to be polished. Rather raw material.

I quite like the remark form "Hdfish" which says that : "it is useful as a "Young people's guide to more advanced music"! I could notice this with my seventeen years-old boy who is, unfortunately for me, completely into rap & associated and who asked me my all "Muse" catalogue (as well as Placebo and the Cranberries) to copy onto his PC. At least, some good music there now.

My opinion about this album, is that we are in front of a good rock album (forget the prog here), but not a great "Muse" one. This won't affect the album sales since it will sell some two-three million copies). Three stars.

Report this review (#125091)
Posted Thursday, June 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
Melomaniac
PROG REVIEWER
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 à 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.

Report this review (#136598)
Posted Thursday, September 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Its so nice to see a band that's very popular make music the way they want.

Muse released Absolution, the first album of theirs i bought (and its great), and than released this, which is.... good....

A few incredible tracks save the album from disaster. The opening track, Take a Bow, is a promising opener led by keyboard and spacey effects, a real adrenaline rush.

Starlite and Supermassive Black Hole are also really great songs, heavy and catchy, a more pop-driven sound is nicely mixed with some great atmospheric effects.

than comes Map of the Problematique... not an impressive track by any means, and the vocals in Soldier's Poem are good but its too short and doesn't do enough. unimpressive

The next 4 songs have few highlights and are not memorable in the slightest

Knights of Cydonia is a fantastic track that saves the album, the best by far. Its a western/electronic freakout that is succesful on all levels, it shows Muse's possibilities as a great band.

This album, as a whole, isn't neary as good as Absolution and 4 or 5 good songs save it, not essential by any means, its just nice to see a band doing a more progressive thing in the mainstream. No more rap and emo rock pop music!!! listen to muse!!

Report this review (#142402)
Posted Saturday, October 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I cant say that the album hit me when i first time heard it. And it had something to do with the fact my friend, a long time Muse fan sayed that it quite far from good. But still i did'nt share his opinion on the album. So a month later i bought the album and i was stunned. Every song that is on the album seamed to work for the entity of the album.

Still many complains that this is'nt the same Muse that whe heard on the Absolution album. Clad it's not because Absolution was greatly overrated by Muse fans. A few really good tracks but in whole the album sucked.

In this album it's the opposite. None of the tracks blows my mind like in the earlier albums but the album in whole is pure dynamite.

Muse is at the spot that they need to be to stay relevant for years to come. reasently i been tossing that word "relevant" a lott when it comes down to my early favorite bands, and allmost every single one of them are in a spot where they can do something different or they can fade away.

Muse has evolved to something else and it fork's damn well for them.

When it comes down to the tracks itself, the 4 first song's are more then enough to keep you interessed throughout the album. Longer the album the theme becomes more cryptic and more and more massive.

From the combositions on the album are not that great as i wished for, but they fork, and thats really all that matters in the end. With the lyrics of course.

Overal this album is not perfect. it's close but still.. about 4.8 i would say. In the end a great rock album that should'nt be ignored.

Report this review (#142424)
Posted Saturday, October 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
russellk
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars A masterpiece of popular music from the gunslingers of rock.

MUSE rip out an album of high-octane tunes powered by enough energy to light up northern Europe. Not since QUEEN in the 1970s have I heard a popular band with the sheer raw power to make their tunes come alive and the FREDDY MERCURY-style self-confidence to bring them off. Anyone who enjoys drama in their music, who is captivated by the theatrical and the pompous, ought to order this album immediately. I repeat: for me, QUEEN is the touchstone for MUSE.

'Take a Bow' begins quietly enough, accusatory anti-politician lyrics backed by synth arpeggios, then someone turns the volume to 11 and the dark chords come crashing in. This opener is a marvel, spitting sarcasm and invective at the high and mighty with such passion that if I was a bent pollie I'd confess immediately. This is prog-coloured. It's not a pop song, or even standard rock. It comes to a roaring climax, then fades out on distortion. Whew! What are we in for?

As soon as 'Starlight' begins I can imagine progheads yelling 'Pop! Pop!' If they'd spend a little less time categorising and a little more time enjoying, we'd probably have fewer of those interminable debates here on ProgArchives. We'd also avoid those unhelpful reviews - you know the type: 'it's pop, so I have to take two stars off' - as though the Prog-Related category isn't enough to help us decide what the rating means. It sounds a bit like OMD's 'Souvenir' to me, a lovely tinkly tune introducing lyrics remarkably similar in structure (if not meaning) to the opening song. This is a great track, and I don't care what pigeonhole you insist it belongs in.

'Supermassive Black Hole' takes us in a third direction, with BELLAMY leaning on his falsetto in a PRINCE-like performance, all the while thundering percussion and the greasiest of cowboy western guitar riffs rips across the speakers. 'Oooh, baby,' BELLAMY croons. I agree. We're now in 'Absolution' territory, one outstanding song after another. Here's the fourth: 'Map of the Problematique' is the first to hark back to previous MUSE incarnations, and again it's no misfire. QUEEN never gave us this much class on any one of their albums.

'Soldier's Poem' takes the QUEEN comparison past similarity of intent and energy and into similarity of sound: BELLAMY's multitracked falsetto is so reminiscent of MERCURY you know it has to be deliberate. Five more great tracks follow, in turn spacy, racy and pacy, each worthy of comment, with 'Assassin' (more monolithic guitar riffage) and 'Exo-Politics' (great beat, guitar - and is that a saw I hear being played?) being the most straightforward and best of them.

And then.

'Knights of Cydonia' is a true prog classic. In six minutes MUSE deliver an inarguable justification for their inclusion here. They reveal themselves as the logical inheritors of SERGIO LEONE's mantle as purveyors of the spaghetti western. Spaceships and cowboys, zap-guns and horses precede a stellar guitar riff straight from ENNIO MORRICONE''s movie file. How can anyone not fall helplessly in love with this? It's so outrageously kitsch! Kudos to these three young men for having the big round ones to write something like this - as revolutionary as 'Bohemian Rhapsody' was to QUEEN and just as important in rock's canon. Speaking of QUEEN, the final chorus is pure camp. Everything prog rock ought to be is right here. And, to my delight, the video is almost exactly how I imagined the track to be - a punk-western sci-fi piss-take. How can the world be a bad place when people do stuff like this? This is five stars on its own.

I'm off to see them live in six weeks' time. Can't wait! Along with THE MARS VOLTA, this is the best high-energy band you'll hear on contemporary radio's airwaves. Completely reckless, over-the-top, outrageous music. Shut off your brain and open your ears!

Report this review (#142474)
Posted Saturday, October 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Muse's Fourth Studio Album Black Holes And Revelations Promised to be a new-turn in the band's direction musically, and it did in some ways, however, the elements of Muse's music is still present and although some things have changed, the band keeps its Apocalyptic-Conspiracy-Theory image.

The Album Is Themed rather than a concept, the songs revolve around a common theme, in the case with this album, the theme is Politicians and World Conspiracy. Every song can be related with current world affairs and wars.

Let's begin

-Take a Bow The first song of the album starts with various piano arpeggios that progressively turn into a effects frenzy. Matt Bellamy do a good job portraying the message of the song (The death of a world leader) with the build-up intensity of the bass. Musically speaking, this is a song for the electric fans, lots of effects, arpeggios and dynamic changes. Lyrically is splendid, simple harsh lyrics emphasize the anger expressed in the song.

-Starlight: Possibly Muse's mainstream song, it was in the top 10 in the UK and US for a couple of weeks. Musically speaking, the song is very simple, is in the key of B. (although the live version plays in Bb). Matt uses a nice arsenal of piano and guitar which expresses love and passion with its melodic chords. Yes, this is a love song....a very nice one too...involving incredible metaphors that relate with the end of the earth, to black holes and the supernatural. The rhythms are simple, VERY simple....it's not bad though, it's just very straight forward: straight eight notes on bass and a common drum patter (that is very catchy by the way).

-Supermassive Black Hole: One of Muse's new sound songs, Supermassive Black Hole is a full-on techno song. the influences are clearly seen in a new direction; the chords and rhythm revolve around a very dancy tune. Lyrically speaking, Matt uses falsetto to the max that's not a bad thing. Bassist Chris Wolstenholme does a well balance job although his line is THE SAME as the guitar. A good track, yet not for everyone, this song is for Experimental and techno listeners, not so much for the prog listener.

-Map Of The Problematique: Woot! Woot! Influence here and there....this is Muse's Prog Style at its best! Musically speaking Matthew uses a very odd way to express the guitar's effects, ( in the recording he singlely strums one chord and that chord reverbs into a bunch of notes, really cool effect) This is actually Muse's first song with a helper: Morgan Nichols, who is a synthesizer and bass player. Thematically speaking, this song is full on with lyrics and song expression mixes very well with the progression of chords going on everywhere. An amazing track, I strongly recommend it!

-Soldier's Poem: A Nice slow song that features acoustic bass and guitar (and a xylophone near the end). Muse goes acoustic in this song with a few arpeggios here and there. A Short sweet track that is in essence a war song. The Title says it all! It's a story from the perspective of a United States Soldier, lyrically speaking, it's wonderful thanks to the back-up vocal work by Bassist Wolstenholme.

-Invincible: The track is an expression of Muse's crossover Prog abilities. From beginning to end the listener can hear small prog bits and at the same time listen to a story of Friendship, Love and Trust. The story is as follows....The end of the world is near, there is a couple who are being torn apart by the world but remain together in spite all odds. Nice right? Well, there is more to this track than a story. How about INCREDIBLE Guitar work by Bellamy?! He uses a nice mix of slides in the beginning to create a UFO effect, progressively he uses a bunch of arpeggios that build up to the song's Solo. The solo is a mix of taps, slies and tremolo picks.....Matt basically makes the guitar cry! (No, seriously, the live versions of this song feature Matt doing some incredible effect stuff to his guitar!) The bass is indeed very proggy near the end and the drums feature a nice march style beat.

-Assassin: A Progressive tune similar to Absolution's Stockholm Syndrome It has the elements of a nice concept song. The concept? The tale of an assassin on his way to murder a world leader. Very controversial theme, don't you think? Anyhow, musically speaking, this song uses a nice balance of Drums and Guitar, however is nothing new in Muse's music.

-Exo-Politics: Musically, this song doesn't shine much (it uses a moderate tempo to drive the song's note progressions) Thematically, however, this song is superb! A Story so well told.....it is as follows: The tale of one man on earth, watching as the world crumbles....he doesn't mind the struggles and feuds between nations, he simply watches how the world unfolds as its nears its end. Chilling story which involves politicians, aliens and spaceships!

-CITY OF DELUSION: Behold..... My favorite Muse track of all time.....CITY OF DELUSION. Possibly Muse's most experimental song of all time. Musically, it is a song that uses Mediterranean, Arabian and Spanish styles. Matthew hired an Arabian string orchestra to provide the AMAZING string works in the song. All works well with this song, guitar, strings drums....but the BASS is what TRULY makes this song a masterpiece, such a nice bass line that truly is the foundation to this amazing song. The theme? well, it is about a city of delusion....it's up to the listener to make its own interpretation of the song. To top it all off, the song features a TRUMPET solo, which makes a highlight near the end of the song....truly makes it a masterpiece! A MUST! I STRONGLY RECOMMEND IT! I assure you.....you won't be disappointed!

-Hoodoo Hmmm......This song is a bit tricky. It's a masterpiece in its own way musically, it uses a nice classical influence by Tchaikovsky. However this song is a bit odd, it doesn't really fit well with the other songs but musically, it's outstanding.

-Knights of Cydonia: The Album's most progressive tune. The influences of Rush can be heard on this tune. This Western Progressive tune features an effects intro that introduces the song's main chords. Then it builds up and starts off! from beginning to end, Muse tells the story with their instruments, creating an ambiance of despair and determination. Nice way to end the album....oh, and did I mention a return of Spanish style Trumpet here?

Overall, I was very satisfied with the album, it is an excellent addition to any Prog fan and of course to any Muse fan, there are a couple of things here and there that seem to change in Muse's style of music, but in essence they're the same old Prog-experimental band that they've always been. One thing I must note though, my main disappointment was the short length in the album, only running 45 minutes.

Report this review (#160172)
Posted Tuesday, January 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars This album shows a completely new side to Muse, the one that could almost be put as crossover prog. They skirt on the edge of that.

This one has no real sense of totality to it, but does have some of Muse's finest musical pieces on it.

Track 1. Take A Bow

Great song, opens up soft and then builds, but just never comes back down. It doesn't get boring up there on the top either, it shifts around a bit to keep you going with a satisfied Yeah! at the end.

Track 2. Starlight

Muse's most overrated and overplayed song. Tied only by Knights of Cydonia (because of Guitar Hero III). It's very poppy in most regards, really. Really just more catchy that anything else.

Track 3. Supermassive Black Hole

The only Muse track that you can really dance to. Again, they just make a pretty decent song, that's kind of poppish, but is actually quite catchy.

Track 4. Map Of The Problematique

Perhaps one of the coolest and most unique sounds on the album, also one of the simplest too, by some weird turn of events. This one hits you hard as cool, but then just goes away, letting the other tracks shine through, kind of like the Mahavishnu's track Hope off of Birds of Fire. Only it doesn't sound anything like it.

Track 5. Soldier's Poem

Almost disgustingly simple. Kind of nice and lyrical, but also kinda boring 3/4 feel. I'm half-glad this one got cut off fast. Definitely the weakest track on the album.

Track 6. Invincible

This one has some of the cheesiest lyrics ever, but it has enough body to make up for it. It has a regal air to it, and it really is a nice listening experience.

Track 7. Assassin

This one opens up with a psuedo-metal guitar riff and keeps it going. Pretty good lyrics, this on is one of my favourites even though it doesn't have a lot of technical or revolutionary progyness to it.

Track 8. Exo-Politics

Again with the catchy. Still comes out as a pretty good song, but it definately was built around it's catchy opening guitar riff.

Track 9. City Of Delusion

My favourite on the track, proggy, cool, strings, jamming, and has a trumpet solo (wich isn't really that amazing, but it works harmonically). This one really shows off Muse's ability to jam with a song. What's surprising is how Matt somehow seamlessly switches between acoustic and distorted guitar, he does it so fast that it makes me really wonder how he does it.

Track 10. Hoodoo (3:42)

This track has some real talent. Amazing lyrics, amazing piano part (played off of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto #1 in Bb minor..... first movement), and over all just great song. This one is the least poppish, and least expected tracks.

Track 11. Knights Of Cydonia

So overplayed!!!! AHHHHH!!!!! Ever since it made it onto Guitar Hero III (and even beforehand, really) it has been everywhere, it is actually quite a simple song, simply progresses, but has a sense of good songwriting to it. It's natural progression really makes it shine, even though I can't stand listening to it anymore.

Track 12. Glorious

The final track is all right. Nothing spectacular, but nothing bad either. It sums up what the album is about. Nothing destined for greatness, but nothing bad either.

Report this review (#161958)
Posted Saturday, February 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Old school Muse(s)!

How could Muse live up to their previous masterpiece Absolution? One of Alternative rock's most promising modern acts packs up their things, and goes back in time with Black Holes and Revelations, harkening back to every era except for this one (maybe to escape the incessant Radiohead comparisons).

Ask a young kid back in the 50's or 60's what he wanted to be when he grew up, and you would've probably gotten one of two answers: a cowboy or an astronaut. Some of the songs on Black Holes sound western tinged, while some sound spacey, decked out with electronic effects.

The 70's? With hard arena rocking sounds and progressive tweaks, Muse incorporates a myriad of influences into their work. For instance, the opener, Take a Bow, starts out with a Baba O Riley style synth line that goes on for around two and a half minutes in the forefront. Then, the first guitar chords crush down, a la In the Flesh?, and I commend Muse for smashing together two epic album openers, like some overeager DJ trying to do some original remixes.

The 80's? Unfortunately, yes, there are some elements of the 80's on the album, and writing 80's style love songs doesn't especially work at all. The weak points of the album come here, with Map of the Problematique and Invincible. Love songs don't work on an album with as spaced out as this, and like 80's songs, these love songs overstay their welcome, clocking in at 5 minutes a pop.

There are also two good, fairly straightforward, hard rocking songs: Exo-politics and Assassin. With one right after the other, with their fast and furious guitar lines, they just work and seem like they compliment one another.

Soldier's poem is where Bellamy's vocals and lyrics take center stage, a two minute piece of filler with a simple drumbeat and sparse instrumentation. As I said, filler.

Also of note are the two spacey singles: Starlight and Supermassive Black Hole. First off, I have a hunch that if both are played simultaneously, it'd sound like Time is Running Out. Muse can sound like themselves a bit. The two singles do cover two different ends of the single spectrum. Starlight is synth-ed out Britpop (which also contains the title of the album in its lyrics), and I like, though it is blatantly poppy.

Supermassive Black Hole is a dance song, that sounds like Prince might've wrote if we launched him into orbit. Did I mentioned that it's as catchy as hell? I also dig the modified, robotic voice that announces the title of the song in the chorus. As a side-note, I don't know if it is innuendo, but if it is, Supermassive Black Hole would be the singular greatest innuendo ever.

I've saved the best for last with the album. So did Muse as the best songs are the last few, and they all have this wicked Western sound that I mentioned earlier. City of Delusion's chorus is epic, with its galloping guitar part leading the way. Hoodoo has a distinctly Morricone-esque guitar part, which accounts a bunch for the western feel of it. I also like the trumpet parts.

Then comes the album closer, Knights of Cydonia. It blends Muse's two pet projects on the album: spacey junk and western junk. This means it is a western spacey bit, which gives it a very distinct Star Wars-ish feel. At six minutes in length it has all the time it needs to work it's magic. It builds up, starting with whinnying horses, and laser guns being fired. One galloping guitar part later, trumpets blare announcing the lyrics. This is where Bellamy's pipes kick in, wailing away like Freddy Mercury possessed. It's very anthemic, very epic, and sublimely done. The epic climax of the song is probably the vocal break that proceeds a wicked solo. This all provides for a veritable tempest, with soaring highs, and eerie lulls. Best song on album, easily one of Muse's best, homogeneously blending the wild west and the final frontier.

I'm also a sucker for album covers, and Muse's does not disappoint. It also mixes spacey and western, with 4 somewhat sharply/eclectically dressed horsemen of the apocalypse (unless I'm reading into this far too much). Cool stuff.

Overall, Muse strikes oil again, in the fickle world of music. A number of solid tunes, mixed in with high apexes, and only a few clunkers. It's more good than bad, and a prime example of mainstream music done right. As I've said before, the attempts at doing something different work very well, and make me excited to hear their next one. 4 stars, as it is an excellent addition to any prog music collection.

Report this review (#162508)
Posted Sunday, February 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
4 stars Black Holes And Revelations is an excellent Muse album. The melodies and hooks are devestatingly catchy and have stayed with me ever since I first heard this great album. The vocals are absolutely brilliant throughout and Muse implement an intricate blend of guitars and keyboards to masterfully produce radio friendly songs that still maintain that prog edge. Highlights include Starlight, Supermassive Black Hole, Invincible, Assassin, and the wonderful mini epic Knights Of Cydonia. Knights starts off with a strange horse whinny effect and then Tarantino style Pulp Fictionesque guitars begin to chugg. Like a Western from another planet, its an absolute Muse classic.

Someone hooked me onto this band and I have adored their music on all of their albums. This is one of their best albums and one with tracks that will remain fan favourites for years to come. The songs have a tendency to hook into you and they are so well crafted that they never bore the listener, some are absolutely amazing technical masterpieces.

Well worth getting this album from one of the most ferociously original band in years.

Report this review (#178657)
Posted Saturday, August 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Come Ride with me, through the pages of History. I'll show you how God, falls asleep on the Job.

I was introduced to this band through this album by...wait for it..Guitar Hero 3. That's right, I was playing with my chum one day and we unlocked 'Knights of Cydonia' and we thought 'Man, this is a great song...and it's still going..and getting better..we must investigate this band!' And so we did. And we found out that they were on this sight. Go figure. I for one wouldn't really qualify them as a progressive band but they do have some progressive qualities. So on with the review already!

You can really tell which songs Muse worked hard on and which ones they didn't. The album seems to have three groups of songs on it: songs that show clear effort by the band to make a grand sound through build ups and emotion; songs that don't show that time and effort, but still sound reasonably good, and songs that are just filler. The first group, the truly astounding songs, includes 'Take a Bow' 'Invincible' 'Hoodoo' and 'Knights of Cydonia'. The second group include 'Starlight' 'Soldier's Poem' and 'City of Delusion.' The remaining songs..you guessed it: filler.

Now, the lyrics throughout the album are sub-par. I'm not a big fan of the depressive/sad/oh my God there's no hope we've ruined our world/Nihilistic lyrics. It's no surprise then that the song 'Invincible' is my favorite on the album, just with the atmosphere it presents and the good feeling you get afterwards. The way the song progresses truly is a treat; the performance of Mattew Bellamy on the guitar at the climax was just superb.

'Take a Bow' really is an incredible song and I'm glad it started the album. After hearing it, I knew I had found a band that continued where Radiohead left off when they went too far into their experimental phase. When I played this to my Father, he couldn't believe it wasn't Radiohead. But the song just keeps building and growing. I was blown away at the quality of this song, musically that is. The lyrics aren't the songs strong point.

'Hoodoo' starts off sounding like a great western soundtrack, and then backs off to a soothing ballad, and then slams into a powerful piano and string movement; an odd way of structuring a song, but I like it. It grabs the listener's attention and really makes an impact. The diversity of this song shows what the band is capable of, and when given the chance, can create great music.

'Knights of Cydonia', the 'mini epic' as some have called it, is one of those songs that you can't help but enjoy. 'Space Cowboys' would be the best way to describe it. They lyrics..well, we've been over that. This song is easily one that will be listened to over and over again and never get boring.

Too bad I can't say the same thing for the rest of the album. After listening to the rest of the songs a few times, they become boring and I find myself turned off by them. They just don't have the same feeling the 'Invincible' 'Take a Bow' 'Hoodoo' and 'Knights of Cydonia' present. There just seems to be something lacking in these tracks and I find myself skipping over them, which is a big problem when I listen to music.

So, all in all, this album has some priceless gems on it, but you have to shuffle through a bit of less then adequate music for it. The album would be better if the weaker songs didn't drag the enjoyment down from listening while listining to the album in its entirety. Three stars would be the respectable rating, since it weighs more on the better songs then the weaker ones.

"How can we win, when fools can be kings? Don't waste your time, or time will waste you."

Report this review (#182731)
Posted Wednesday, September 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
MovingPictures07
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This is definitely Muse's best album and is one hell of a good one. It is not directly prog, hence the sub-genre, but is quite bombastic, well-played and composed, and unique.

1. Take a Bow- Starting out with an intriguing keyboard part, this song increasingly makes use of that and Bellamy's vocals, then building into a climax when other instruments come in and show you a pretty good typical Muse song. This song is a bit proggy, especially during the very odd yet neat sounding keyboard segment of the song after it builds. Definitely more than your average modern rock song. 8/10

2. Starlight- Wonderful song, one of my favorites from Muse (if not my favorite). It was a hit/single, and it has a decently straightforward structure. The overall atmosphere to it, however, is incredibly enjoyable. Try not liking this one! Bellamy's vocals and instrumentation are great, and the rest of the band is up to considerable par. This is really an extremely well-crafted song and I can't find any fault with it other than the fact that it's not particularly groundbreaking (though that's not why you would listen to Muse). Second best song on here other than Knights. 9/10

3. Supermassive Black Hole- Interesting experiment here, almost bordering very pop-like vocals and structure here. This song was even more of a hit than the previous one, and god help me, I enjoy it. It certainly is a good song, but not one of their best, despite my enjoyment. Solid song, nothing else. 7/10

4. Map of the Problematique- My thoughts on this song are similar to the previous one, although both songs aren't too similar other than being Muse songs. This one is again not the most proggy song, but it is a good rock song. Good drums, vocals, keyboards, bass, as usual. 6/10

5. Soldier's Poem- Great acoustic and vocal interlude. It really sets a good atmosphere up and still flows on the album. It isn't groundbreaking at all, just pleasant. The vocals here are especially neat. 6/10

6. Invincible- Here we go. Now this is a hell of a song. Good entry vocals and marching drums, and the mood is perfect. I love when the guitar parts come in a very distant tone and give a soaring indomitable feel to the song, which fits it perfectly. Together we're invincible! Very moving song, and it builds perfectly once more. 9/10

7. Assassin- Proggier song once more, and that can be discerned immediately. The opening guitar part is quite interesting and the song here is pretty good. Good rock elements while still maintaining typical Muse bombastic rock structure. It is accomplished, but it doesn't strike a chord with me especially as a few of the other songs especially have. 7/10

8. Exo-Politics- Great song again, but again, not perfect. It has good instrumentation and good songwriting as always, but it doesn't break any new boundaries nor does it really strike a special chord with me. Probably my least favorite song on here. 5/10

9. City of Delusion- Good song, with a cool acoustic opening and vocals. The way that the song unfolds again is applauded and Muse certainly is effective at churning out decent rock songs one after the other. 7/10

10. Hoodoo- Slower song that is in the vein of some of their songs on previous albums. It is pretty good, and I more so like the second half of the song where the piano and drums take a more dominant role. 6/10

11. Knights of Cydonia- This is perhaps the most proggy song on the album and Muse at their finest. This is easily their best track on this album and probably the best track they've ever recorded. The awesome intro, the commanding, galloping drums, then the extremely bizarre guitars all through the opening tell you that this one is going to be quite a ride. No faults here, this really is the epitome of what Muse is all about. I love the opening, the part when the vocals break out with the synth-guitar backing in the middle in an extremely cool mood setter, and of course the rocking guitar battle at the end. They should make more songs like this! 10/10

12. Glorious- Good track in the vein of a typical rocky bombastic Muse song. More than an average rock song easily and quite good, similar to most of the tracks on this album while still covering new ground as to not become too uninteresting. 7/10

This is a tough one to rate star-wise. It is an excellent addition to a musical collection and it's far from essential, but I'm not so sure if a progger's collection would suffer at all from not having this. Good, not essential, definitely their best album. Check this out if you want some enjoyable, wonderfully crafted prog-influenced modern rock, but this will definitely not appeal to everyone.

Report this review (#189411)
Posted Saturday, November 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Black Holes & Revelations' - Muse (7/10)

Muse (concerning all of the other music they have done) have generally impressed me in their songwriting, and have written some pretty great songs, but I've never really felt that a really ambitious album had been made by them... until I gave 'Black Holes And Revelations' a good listen. While Muse's previous albums suffered from issues such as a lack of flow ('Showbiz') or an inconsistency in song quality ('Absolution' had a near-perfect first side, but a very mediocre second,) Muse are able to improve on past shortcomings, and make an album that is dramatic, bombastic and larger than life from start to finish.

Muse certainly do not try to bombard the listener with progressive insanity, but moreso integrate prog/innovative ideas into a more accesible sound. That's not to say that this is 'mainstream' however. It is simply a marriage of two schools of music; and there are certainly enough strange ideas in the music to keep the album fresh for many, many listens.

It's also nice to have a break in Prog where the concept of melody is held in high regard. While this attention to accessible songwriting conventions and lengths may be condemned by a 'br00tal' Prog fan, there's nothing to suffer here. Some of Muse's previous work had alot of raw noise to it (a la Alternative Rock) but here the sound is polished and refined to perfection, which is definately a nice improvement in any case.

While there isn't any 'filler' work here, there are some tracks here that are a bit of a break from the 'larger than life' atmosphere that Muse is prone to generate. The song 'Hoodoo' for example, shouldn't be considered so much as a song, than a mere extended intro or interlude before the true epic of the album, 'Knights Of Cydonia.' While some may see this as nothing more than wasted album time, it makes the flow alot better (after all, an album with solely bombastic material would get a bit boring.) In terms of flow, there is a roller coaster of sorts, going from high, energetic points ('Assassin,' 'Knights Of Cydonia') to the more laid back tracks (such as 'Soldier's Poem.)

Muse have reached their peak with this release. They have more or less corrected all of the problems in their sound, and in doing so have created an album that is catchy, yet inately intelligent and complex. 'Black Holes And Revelations' is a great piece, and a sure sign that prog is still seeping into the mainstream, whether people know it or not.

Report this review (#210017)
Posted Friday, April 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Alternative pop-rock done right.

Muse has yet to disappoint me. At first listen Muse are consistantly compared to Radiohead, and unfairly so...for both bands. Other than Bellamy's voice, there is very little similarity between them, Muse being far less experimental and far catchier than Radiohead. If Radiohead were the Beatles post Revolver, Muse would be ELO. Muse has a bevy of song-writing talent, fantastic instrumentation, plenty of variation and loads of appeal, but only one sound: EPIC

Every song they create, whether soft or heavy, fast or slow, is always intended to be epic and intense...and Black Holes is no exception. Black Holes And Revelations has an overpowering sound that can't possibly bloom from a mere 3 people, and every song has the gusto of the hit song to an anonymous soundtrack. Muse's 4th studio album is a tad crunchier than previous efforts, and perhaps less proggy, but no less incredible. The ferocious political lyrics and hook after hook make for a sonic adventure that is slightly predictable, but completely captivating.

The album's single: Supermassive Black Hole, gets a bit of negative attention, and I strongly defend it, for it is the most unique Muse song yet. It has an almost industrial sound with silly R&B lyrics and is just plain loud and fun. Knights Of Cydonia is easily the biggest beast on the album prog- wise, followed by Take A Bow. Starlight, Supermassive Black Hole and Assassin are the upbeat danceable tracks. Soldiers Poem is short and sweet, while Invincible is the so-called ballad. Hoodoo is unusual in a very good way; with a great creschendo of sorts. Exo-Politics and Glorious are typical Muse rock songs (not a bad thing) which fit right in the mix. All of the above are very good songs. Map Of The Problematique and City Of Delusion highlight the album to me, regardless of their lack of prog. Map has superb rhythmic drumming and grows ever so slightly in insensity and is easily one of my all-time favorite guilty pleasures. City Of Delusion is beyond huge, with spanish style acoustic and horns, great bass, funky overtones and overall perfect structure. Like I said: HUGE.

Just a side note: all Muse albums should be listened to at maximum volume at least once!

I love and highly recommend Black Holes And Revelations to anyone. Their music seems simple at first, but is too damn good to be. I give it 4 stars, as I would to every Muse album. I give the band 5 stars.

Report this review (#210052)
Posted Friday, April 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars 2.5*

Like many, I was drawn to this album by Knights of Cydonia, found on Guitar Hero III. Happens that I was looking for something new and fresher than just another prog album, went to the music store, found it at a good price and bought it. This was my first mainstream purchase since a long time!

Do not get me wrong, this is an enjoyable album. A real candy melody-wise, and well balanced on rythm. But anyone looking for progressive influences here, or even for any impressive musical proficiency, will be disappointed. Most of the tracks follow very simple patterns and the guitars, drums and keyboard compositions are essentially as basic as a politician's catchlines about health care.

Right from the start, Matthew Belamy's voice strikes me as charming, poised, powerful just enough, and very, very precise. The band's soul imo.

The album's first track, Take a Bow, opens with mysterious keyboards, then slowly builds up. It has a progressive touch and makes a strong impression. And then, so does the rest of Black Holes and Revelations... save the progressive touch...

If this album is a good indication of Muse's music, then the genre prog-related should carry a warning in the form of "prog-related, from afar".

For instance, Supermassive Black Hole, like several other tracks, has a catchy melody but is closer to even pop rock than to alternative. Following is Map of the problematique, which I found reminiscent of A-Ah's hit Take on Me, whilst edging more towards alternative with a twist of urban/electronic.

Soldier's Poem is a disappointing ballad, with some REM influence. Fortunately, it's short- lived.

Invincible reminded me of U2's legendary hit One, following a very similar pattern, although ending with harder (but very bad) guitars.

Until the last track, Knights of Cydonia, the songs all manage to get catchy in a way or another, but apart from the somewhat successful melodies and Belamy's voice, the guitars and drums remain VERY elementary. And still, I was satisfied with tracks such as City of Delusion or even Hoodoo which starts badly but ends nicely.

The now famous Knights of Cydonia does not disappoint. Not purely progressive but certainly the more progressive track of the album. Superb guitar riff overlapped by spacey keyboards, gets even Ayreon-esque at some point. Has you hoping that they would go this direction more often.

Close call. A good album generally speaking, but maybe not a "good prog album". Since I have given 3 stars to prog works that I find more complete and impressive than Black Holes and Revelations, I must go with 2 stars in all fairness. But that's an album that I will listen to again in those times where my brain needs its candybreak without losing my mind for it.

Report this review (#234735)
Posted Sunday, August 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars I thought about this and decided i'm gonna give it 5 stars, people might shout and say but this isn't prog rock, where the hell are al the prog songs? there's no prog in any of those songs etc etc, and i would full heartedly agree. There are traces of prog in the songs on this album, most notably (in my opinion) city of delusion, hoodoo and knights of cydonia, and of course even so this comes nothing close to the greats such as Yes, Pink Floyd etc, whose elements of prog styling and song length are so prominent it would turn most muse listeners away in disgust. But think of the album as a whole, not just by the 12 individual songs (i'm counting the japanese bonus song release too). See where i'm getting at?

The album, i think, is very sorta...it's very much in a way a concept album. But not like any that Pink Floyd would do for instance. When you listen to the album from start to finish in the order it's in it's almost like a journey in a way. It has the same effect as prog rock does on me, going from highs to lows and in between, making you feel happy, sad, joyous...this is what great prog rock does, and this is what this album, as a whole, does. And for this it deserves a 5...

From the opening seconds you're drawn right into it, with the dark synthesiser opening of take a bow, it builds slowly to aggressive lyrics, guitar, bass, the old aggression of some of Muse' previous work is current here, and then a sudden change to "Starlight", a very, almost childish riff greets you and stays throughout the song, and the highs and lows i mentioned above are present here. It's very pretty in a way, you can't help but smile almost. And then you're thrown straight into the very alternative supermassive black hole. You either love it or hate it i think, and if you hate it it'll grow on you anyway, it's ridiculously catchy, quickly done, and contains barely any prog elements whatsoever. But it fits with the album. And so does the next song, Map of the Problematique, a very electronic sounding piece of music that almost transports you to space. It really sounds like it's been pulled straight from 2001 A Space Odyssey or something. Bellamys voice fits the mood of the song, again a very dark, almost sinister piece like the opening song "Take a Bow". The next one, "Soldiers Poem", takes it down a bit. It's short, and opens up the next song "Invincible" quite nicely. But "Soldiers Poem" is basically almost like a poem, and with the slow drum beat and acoustic guitar and almost (at times) barber shop style lyrics it's certainly not your typical muse. Invincible is a terrific song, opening with a terrific slide guitar intro and organ, and building up with a sort of marching drum. These disappear come the second verse and then comes the bass breakdown and the amazing guitar solo and outro. But it's very much a love song, very soppy, but very well done. Muse soon bring back the aggression though with "Assassin", which after a calm guitar intro bursts in all guns blazing with a heavy riff and intense drums. And then comes the lyrics, it's a very aggressive song, almost like such songs as "yes please" and "ashamed" from Hullaballoo. This aggression lingers in "Exo-Politics", a very political song (obviously) with a catchy guitar riff, and although again no prog, it just fits. I can't explain it anymore than that It's in the final few songs that the prog kicks in. "City Of Delusion" is very alternative, not very often you get songs nowadays with trumpet solos. It's very Muse though, nice calm (in this case almost Spanish sorta sounding) intro and verse, intense chorus and amazing breakdowns, usually (and in this case) with Bassist Chris Wolstenholme doing the honours. Then comes "Hoodoo", very different from anything on the album, sticking with the sorta style fom "City of Delusion", it goes from nice quiet acoustic guitar intro, with a verse accompanied by Matt, who sounds amost haunting with his lyrics. Then the aggression comes in the form of the piano, and the lyrics still haunting, though louder and almost desperate. The dark tones that stayed throughout the album and song fade out with the song, and we enter "Knights of Cydonia", which is introduced with space like laser sounds and horses galloping...a moments silence, then on with the song. Matts guitars and voice give the feel of the wild west, and you feel almost as though you're in the wild west, it's incredible, the galloping of the bass, the faint sound of the synth, it all goes perfectly. The songs begins and ends its outro with the very memorable guitar riff and lyrics, and you wonder if this was the same band that wrote supermassive black hole. The final song "Glorious" still fits the album, and it's almost poignant in a way. It's nice, but not sweet or anything. It brings you right back down to a medium after Knights, right back down to arth.

It just all fits the album, disagree if you please but it's how i feel and i do hope i've justified it enough. If you read the whole review, thanks a lot. Whether you think it's prog in any way shape or form or not prog in the slightest, you can't deny it's a decent album.

Report this review (#238480)
Posted Thursday, September 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Eclectic Prog Team
2 stars I somewhat hate that I bought this album- there just isn't much to it. The music is, for the most part, simple and uninteresting. The singer completely sounds like U2's Bono in tone, inflection, and apparent self-importance. Ladies and gentlemen, this is a pop album- there is nothing remotely progressive here, but it is not without any charm in the context of being a pop album. The final track is absent from my album, but I doubt it would do anything to change my thoughts about this.

"Take A Bow" Some intriguing keyboards begin the album. There's little variation, though, as the opener becomes something more akin to American club music.

"Starlight" Another U2-sounding piece, this song is pleasant enough, but simple and almost crying out for attention from FM radio. Still, it's the best and most memorable song on the album.

"Supermassive Black Hole" This one may as well be a commercial for any number of unrelated products. The vocals are non-stop falsetto, something a guy like Mika (a guilty pleasure of mine) could get away with, but this is just too much. The music is disgusting, a gritty mishmash of distorted guitar and robotic drums.

"Map Of The Problematique" Another U2 piece (albeit with a slightly fuller sound), including cliché lyrics ("when we bleed we all bleed the same") and nothing outstanding in terms of composition or musicianship.

"Soldier's Poem" A refreshing change of scenery, this is an acoustic piece in 6/8 with very good Queen-like vocal harmonies.

"Invincible" Marching snare drum, a gorgeously simple slide guitar, and soft vocals make up this more appealing and motivating piece. The heavier part is a bit grating, but the lead guitar over the keyboard makes for intriguing listening.

"Assassin" This is a rapid-fire piece, with heavy drumming and guitars- not much else to it.

"Exo-Politics" More like an indie-rock song (like something from a college band that's somewhat unsure of its direction), this has soft, flowing vocals and a fuzz guitar and bass spitting out a simple rhythm.

"City Of Delusion" Another welcome change of direction, this has a slight Latin flavor, with speedy acoustic guitar chords and a fitting vocal melody. For once, the bass has real personality. The trumpet adds a brilliant touch.

"Hoodoo" Surf-rock reverb blends with a Mexican rhythm cliché in the beginning that gives way to soft singing. If one track has a progressive feel or structure to it, it's this one, but that's largely because there are two distinct parts to this song.

"Knights Of Cydonia" The final track has an introduction that sounds similar to Uriah Heep, with distorted and acoustic guitar and pointless screeching. Queen-like harmonies return over a basic electronic groove. The guitar that follows is hard-hitting, but when those same harmonies return, it suddenly sounds a lot like ELO.

Report this review (#240349)
Posted Saturday, September 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars I know that I said that Absolution in Muse's career, but I got to say, this album is just as good. The songs are cathcy, the music is amazingly written, it doesn't get boring and it is quite experimental in places.

This album saw a more comfortable flirtation with electronics and even though that is not the norm in modern rock music, I believe it was pulled off really well.

1. Take A Bow - Like Apocalypse Please, this song is very climactic, leading up to a grand finale at the end. With more use of synths and even arrpegiated chords that were sped up to the max, this song is powerfull, catchy and amazing. I get chills just thinking of it.

2. Starlight - I have heard this song so many times, I could vomit it. This song recieved alot of airplay, due to the fact that it is a great song, and it gotta bit on my nerves. A bit like King's Of Leon's Sex On Fire did, but Starlight is a great song.

3. Supermassive Black Hole - I remember watching the premier of this video at 12 o'clock at night. I thought the video was a bit weird and the song sounded nothing like Muse. But, having listened to it, more than enough times, due to airplay on radio and t.v., I'm starting to see what they were tryring to achieve. Kind of like a hybrid between Prince & Gary Newman.

4. Map Of The Problematique - The electronics in this song are to die for. The mixing is amazing, the synths sound top quality, and this song just rules. Probabbly one of my all time favourite Muse songs.

5. Soldier's Poem - The Italian aria. Nothing more to say.

6. Invincible - This song was a weird choice for a single. It is incredibly catchy and eerie beautiful, but is a great song. The solo is amazing, i never really liked the idea of putting many effects into one guitar, but this is one exception.

7. Assassin - This song reminds me of Stockholme Syndrome, a kick ass riff and a great chorus.

8. Exo-Politics - This song has a pretty cool chorus. I think the song is about Scientology, but Muse weren't always the greatest lyric writers.

9. City Of Delusion - Great chorus, amazing harmonies, kick ass song.

10. Hoodoo - A more mellower feel to the album.

11. Knights Of Cydonia - Would I be right in saying that the riff in this song is one of the best riffs of all time. This song is a bit like Butterflies & Hurricanes, in the sense that it keeps on building up and becoming more epic than ever. The layered vocal harmonies in this song are absolutely amazing. I remember doing a radio show, and i decided to play this song, I just started grooving for no apparent reason to this song...that is how amazing this song is.

CONCLUSION - I'm finding hard to choose my favourite Muse album, it's definelty between Absolution and this one. This album continued on the great work Muse were doing and it even bettered Absolution at times. If you don't have either of the 2, buy them now.

Report this review (#258510)
Posted Wednesday, December 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars I remember enjoying this record when it was released and have I done my review back in 2006 then it would have definitely been a lot more cheerful. With the release of Black Holes And Revelations Muse, once again, moved from the creative to the more commercial sound, still this album actually works pretty well even though the overall sound is not completely to my liking.

Take A Bow is a great album opener incorporating almost everything I like about Muse but unfortunately there isn't any more where that came from. Instead what follows are two very accessible singles Starlight and Supermassive Black Hole that do work in their own right but definitely not something that I would want to expose myself to over any longer periods of time. The latter of the two features some truly horrible lyrics even though I shamefully find the melody to be quite catchy, meaning that the band succeed in what they were perusing here.

Map Of The Problematique and Soldier's Poem are quite charming tracks that show that all hope is not lost, just when I started to fear the worst. I'm on the fence about Invincible since Muse is really trying to accomplish something worth a while here but the dragging intro section and an amateurish guitar solo take out most of the charm for me. I remember also really liking Assassin and Exo-Politics to some extend and considered them to be hold this album afloat even though the lesser material tries so hard to sink it with the offered blandness. The tracks are a lot heavier than the rest of the material and, if anything, mark a return to the sound explored on Absolution but don't expect any Heavy Metal since it's still Muse we're talking about here!

Despite not having much against the tracks towards the end of the album like City Of Delusion and Hoodoo they just never managed to leave enough impression on me in order to become anything else than another exercise in blandness. Listening to them today I can only verify this statement even though City Of Delusion is the most experimental track of the bunch I think that the band really got carried away with the layering and forgot to make a strong melodic performance, which is what Muse is actually good at. Recently I read that Hoodoo had won Q Magazine's 2009 Lyric of the year award. My response to that is that I've never even noticed the lyrics under all of the Spanish guitar sounds. The track does sound almost like a mini-opera so there might just be something there if only I felt like exploring it more closely. I recall being completely in love with Knights Of Cydonia when I heard it for the first time but those feelings didn't last too long and ever since I saw the music video for that track it really left a bad taste in my mouth that makes itself known every time I hear this track. This is quite unfortunate since Knights Of Cydonia definitely features a few fun moments that should sound even better when played in a live setting.

Even though Black Holes And Revelations isn't really a bad album somehow I feel that the next couple of Muse albums won't have anything left for me to enjoy since this release does feature a few signs of being a transition album. In this case it seems a though Muse can only go in one direction, namely further away from the band I happened to enjoy back in the day.

***** star songs: Take A Bow (4:35) Assassin (3:31)

**** star songs: Starlight (4:03) Map Of The Problematique (4:18) Soldier's Poem (2:05) Invincible (5:00) Exo-Politics (3:53) Knights Of Cydonia (6:07)

*** star songs: Supermassive Black Hole (3:29) City Of Delusion (4:48) Hoodoo (3:43)

Report this review (#282096)
Posted Saturday, May 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
JJLehto
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I was in the car with a friend one day, he had some intriguing music playing. When I asked him what it was he said it was the album Absolution by Muse. Never heard of Muse before and he said the only way he could describe them was "epic rock". I don't know what 2 or 3 songs I heard but I liked them enough to go out and buy and album, the record store had "Black Holes and Revelations".

I kind of regret that decision, this album now sits near the bottom of my pile. This album is the only actual CD from Muse I have so I can't compare to their overarching work. This album though has a general pop rock sound, but with pretty strong alternative rock tendencies. It has a lot of strangeness to it overall, lots of synth, and unique guitar and drum work. I can't deny that these guys are pretty good musicians, especially frontman Matt Bellamy who is quite unique and creative. However, while there are good moments in most of the songs, a lot of them are just flat out bad. I found a lot of this boring, or just unlistenable. The only songs I really like all the way through are Assassin to Knights of Cydonia. Yeah, strange how it comes in a block like that.

The rest of the album is just too difficult to make it through any songs. Bellamy's voice is filled with emotion, and sometimes he really uses that passion well. Best example I can think of is, "How can we win, when fools can be kings" as well as the "No one's gunna take me alive..." chorus, both in Knights of Cydonia. However, often his vocals just grate on me. I can't stand them. A lot of the songs are boring, or drag to much. Supermassive Black Hole seems to be one of Muse's bigger hits, but this was the most boring song on the album. Honestly, a lot of the album is just uninteresting. Flat, not much there, boring.

So while the musicianship is there, I only like 5 songs from this album out of 12. The others I really can not listen to. That leaves only one rating for this album.

Two Stars

Report this review (#285190)
Posted Sunday, June 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Ok, first off...what is with the song "Glorious"? It's not on my copy. Must only be on the Japanese version. Never heard it. Alright, I just listened to it on YouBoob. Not bad, better than half the songs on the album. If it was included I don't think I would change my rating.

The first song I heard from this album was the single "Starlight". The first few times I heard the song on the radio I didn't even recognize it as Muse! Not until I heard a DJ name the song and artist did I know who it was. About a year before, I had seen the video for "Stockholm Syndrome" and went out and got the band's first three albums. I was skeptical about picking this one up. Not until I seen the video for "Knights Of Cydonia" did I get it. It was a pretty underwhelming experience.

Black Holes was a letdown after the previous two albums. Both Origin Of Symmetry and Absolution were better and proggier than this is. This album begins and ends with the two proggiest songs here: "Take A Bow" and "Knights Of Cydonia", respectively. This may be Muse's most popular album due to "Knights" and "Assassin" being used in Guitar Hero games. "Assassin" is one of the better songs here; great guitar playing and drumming. This is about as close as this band gets to metal. There are some good lyrics on the album, especially "Exo-Politics". The songs "Soldier's Poem" and "Hoodoo" are almost filler here. Mellower than the rest, they ruin the flow of the album.

Most of the songs here are the typical anthemic rock you would expect from Muse. Only the song "Supermassive Black Hole" sounds like they are trying to do something new. It's sound like the band are trying to do a cover of a Prince song. "Take A Bow" has some nice sequencer on it. There is not as much piano here as on Absolution or the follow-up Resistance. I have to mention the sound and production here. It's really good. Unlike most recent music coming out these days, I can listen to this on headphones and not get a headache! Bravo! Many of today's recording engineers need to listen to an album like this; even today you can make music that sounds warm and rich, without having to compress and clip the hell out of it because "that's what everybody else is doing".

Muse are more popular now than ever before, but Absolution was their last great album. This deserves 2.5 but compared to the previous two albums, I have to knock it down to 2 stars.

Report this review (#306216)
Posted Saturday, October 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Rating: 7.5/10

O.K., it is not easy at all to follow up a work like "Absolution" which it's not only their "magnum opus" but also, and arguments are totally rejected, their definitive album.

But "Black holes and revelations" keep high standards at a fair balance of its entire running time and listening.

First half is good, just a little bit over average with that phenomenal and unbeatable beginning that is "Take a bow" (the best song) but as tracks go further inspiration gets lower as on "Starlight" featuring one of those typical sound signs a certain band or artist has -in this case it seems we've heard that main guitar riff before on a Muse song- and "Map of the problematique".

"Supermassive black hole" is cool and pretty much the hit every album needs while "Soldier's poem" is very deep and sensitive yes, but goes so depressive and languid that leaves a bittersweet taste like if artistic poses go over the music.

From "Invincible" on, things get near flawless and there aren't really important failures; moreover after some of the most developed tracks Muse have done such as "Assassin" and "Exo-politics", the final punch of "Knights of Cydonia" with its rightful pertinent western air mixed with that terrific galloping march of the band leaves a cohesive and sustained deliver, despite those first mistakes.

Report this review (#458445)
Posted Thursday, June 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars On their fourth album Muse dial back the bombast a little and go out of their way to offer a more diverse selection than the all-explosions-all-the-time offerings of Origin of Symmetry and Absolution. The band are clearly making an effort to broaden their sound a bit here, which is fair enough, but at the same time this also makes the album one of Muse's more forgettable works - because it seems to be deliberately trying to scale back the drama of the last two albums few of the songs really impress themselves on the listener's consciousness. I liked it for the first few listens, but whilst the earlier Muse albums grew on me over time, this one shrunk on me.
Report this review (#693217)
Posted Tuesday, March 27, 2012 | Review Permalink
rogerthat
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Muse represent the return, with a big bang, of excess to mainstream rock. At the end of the 70s, rock denounced the heady excess of that decade and rock musicians repeatedly attempted to forge a paradigm that would steer clear of excess. It began with the stripped down aggression of punk, moved to the corporate flavour of the 80s which got suffocating enough for grunge to flourish in the 90s. But with Muse even sneaking into the London Olympics - a pretty apt choice in some ways - the big, bigger and biggest kind of rock is back. They are way over the top and bombastic but they also play heavy and hard and their dazzle is hard to resist.

Muse are frequently, and inexplicably, compared, to Radiohead but the one band they resemble most is Queen. Even when singer, guitarist and keyboardist Matt Bellamy is not utilizing his attractive falsetto, the music is strongly influenced by Queen and the only reason this may not be so immediately evident is the contemporary production. What they do not have, unfortunately, that excessive bands of the 70s like Queen, ELP and Led Zeppelin had is a certain non chalance. Even if they aren't necessarily dead serious about their music, they do sound like it. I have nothing whatsoever against artists who take their music seriously, except that it doesn't gel so well with the ultra-bombastic sound of Muse. Then again, they don't seem to share Queen's overt fondness for pastiche, ELP's fetish for never ending instrumental sections and with all his flaws, Bellamy is still a lot less annoying than Plant. So one takes the good and cops the bad when it comes to these over the top bands because things would get a bit dull if everybody was restrained and subtle all the time.

Coming to this, their fourth album, as some reviews have mentioned, Muse seem to want to expand their sound here and can at times appear to be trying too hard to do so. This makes for a rather inconsistent affair with some killer tracks and some not so hot ones, which in totality don't offer a wholesome experience. Black Holes and Revelations is more of a collection of tracks than a well put together album.

Consider that Starlight sounds a lot like a mellow U2 track. It's melodic and pleasant and altogether not at all bad to listen to but the thing is, it sounds odd following close behind Take a Bow, which with its trademark ostentatious keyboard arpeggios is about as Muse as Muse gets. Again, the haunting aftertaste of Starlight is quickly disrupted by the funky dance track Supermassive Black Hole. In its own right, the track works very well with Bellamy's falsetto in full flow but it doesn't make for a cohesive combination. And as I have mentioned before, their dead serious bombast can get a bit tiresome towards the end.

Which is a pity because as you get deeper into the album, it is more rewarding. Assassin is a brutal rocker almost approaching the power of a thrash metal track. City of Delusion is another rollicking romp with a kickass guitar breakdown in the middle. But for Bellamy's despairing wail "Destroy them", it would probably work even better. Knights of Cydonia makes you overlook the ridiculously over the top settings with a galloping groove. As a mid-20s guy, I am already too old to have checked out this album at the proper age, which is, ideally, around 18 or so. Man, I would have gone wild over these tracks at that time. Sadly with experience, comes a bit of the jaded "been there, done that, next" attitude to music.

So, getting back to the album, it has several really strong tracks and if you are already familiar with the band, you are probably not going to be disappointed with this album (or you have already listened to it many times long before this review!). But its maddening inconsistency may leave you feeling less satisfied than you might have been otherwise with this album. Considering this aspect and also that Muse ultimately don't break a whole lot of new ground with this album, it's 4 stars from me.

Report this review (#840383)
Posted Friday, October 19, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars 9.5/10

Ironically, his least prog album to date is his best album to date.

After the Herculean effort that was enjoying Absolution I feel surprised to have enjoyed Black Holes and Revelations as easily. Almost at my first audition I have ever enjoyed this album. If I listened several times, was simply for the pleasure of hearing him. Many will sizzle because many of the bombastic and progressive elements of its predecessor are gone, with the band going in a direction more accessible and commercial, incorporating new elements (especially electronic, alternative and film), but to hell with that! So I warn you: if you are a purist progressive or step foot here.

The album begins with Take a Bow. It is known that Muse has a tendency to ambitious and bold letters, and this is no different, dealing with corruption - a theme that pervades the album. The song opens with electronic effects, and I thought: "electronics? Seriously?", But then I was surprising. The truth is that this song is more like a kind of overture, an astonishing crescendo filled with plaintive vocals. The song ends explosively, and binds to hit Starlight. About this song, some may turn up their noses, but I confess I have a weakness for songs accessible. Not to mention that riff it is familiar to me. It is a song that reminds me a lot Coldplay, and if you look at the piano line reminds me the song Viva la Vida (which would only be released two years later).

Now, Supermassive Black Hole is one of the strangest songs that Muse has ever done. With a pulsing electronic beat and addictive, was the band's first song I ever heard (in the movie Twilight - and no, I'm not proud of it). But recently I discovered that music was theirs. Map of Problematique is an energetic song, with an interesting drum set completed by the piano absolutely fantastic. Soldier's Poem is a simple song and acústcia with Howard using "broom sticks" and some vocal harmonies that remind me of Queen. Invincible is a mix of alternative rock with guitars Gilmour-esque, starting as if it were a kind of gear and headed towards a sound heavier on his end. Muse Assassin is flirting with progressive metal, and who knows not fall well on an album like Octavarium? Exo-Politics is a strange song about aliens, but with a very cool rhythmic marking. I really like the guitar work here.

The last three bring the album to a new direction, totally unlike anything they've ever done. City of Delusion combines Mediterranean and Mexican music with the typical style of the band (if they have a typical style). Hoodoo (that title makes me think of Hodor, the character of the book series A Song of Ice and Fire) merges western guitars with a seventies rock and classical piano, a delicious mix - and I think I have a problem, but when Bellamy begins to sing, the combination of her voice with the guitar reminds me Maudlin of the Well on his album Part the Second.

But the highlight of the album is up to the last track, Knights of Cydonia. Imagine a mixture of psychedelic rock / space rock with hard rock and western music. Now conceive a clip that mixes westerns with science fiction and martial arts. There, you will have the video of this song. It is one of the best songs they've done, for sure!

PS: there is one last song in some versions, titled Glorious. It's a good song, but there's not required. Knights of Cydonia would be a thousand times better closure.

5 stars. Not a prog masterpiece, but a masterpiece of rock.

Report this review (#1019392)
Posted Thursday, August 15, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Black Holes And Revelations remembers me of funny times when I heard of progressive and thought that it had a bunch of long music that I would not have the guts to handle. How innocent I was. Well, when I heard that Muse was progressive, it actually helped me to have the courage to listen more of this genre. I'm glad that it happened, even if Muse is not a progressive band.

It's funny that this band is on the site, but it kind of makes sense. The style is not very simple by rock standards, which makes me think of Queen, another quasi-prog. Maybe a prog fan won't be too surprised by songs like Starlight and Map of the Problematique, but the quality in such tracks is proof of their talents. It's not about complex songs with 10 minutes of duration, it's about a great sense of quality and how to make the best of the sound of the instruments, rather than just play intricate solos. Not that I have something against intricate solos. There's also a bit of sci-fi on the lyrics, so there you go, it's almost a Rush album! Seriously though, if you like Rush, maybe you'll like how they mix heavy rocking with different styles.

Being more personal, I love the vocals on Supermassive Black Hole. Matt Bellamy made me really start to like falsetto. I imagined that many people would consider Exo-Politics as a weak track, but apparently I'm not the only one that find it enjoyable. Soldier's Poem is the one I like the least, there's nothing really interesting for me. At least it's short.

Knights of Cydonia is probably the closest you have of an epic. This is also the most memorable of all, maybe because of the funny music video, but the song itself has some great moments and doesn't feel like 6 minutes.

It's a bit redundant to simply explain each track as "good" and "not so much", then here's a rating for each one of them:

Take a Bow: 4/5 Starlight: 4/5 Supermassive Black Hole: 5/5 Map of the Problematique: 4/5 Soldier's Poem: 2/5 Invincible: 4/5 Assassin: 4/5 Exo-Politics: 5/5 City of Delusion: 4/5 Hoodoo: 3/5 Knights of Cydonia: 5/5

As you can see, I enjoy most of the album, but there's something that makes me like more the older ones. A great album nonetheless.

Report this review (#1140638)
Posted Sunday, March 2, 2014 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#1424821)
Posted Sunday, June 7, 2015 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
5 stars It took them three long years but MUSE released their fourth album BLACK HOLES AND REVELATIONS in 2006 only this time on both sides of the Atlantic simultaneously. By this time, MUSE had become one of the biggest bands to hit Britain in the new millennium and had started to take America by storm as well but not quite to the degree of the 60s bands such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. While the previous album "Absolution" had been a little hit and miss for me, mostly on the miss downward spiral with a shoddy production, inconsistent compositional prowess and dumbing down effect to please their American record label, BLACK HOLES AND REVELATIONS on the other hand finds MUSE at the top of their game and in effect is a sort of crescendo creatively speaking in their career with even more influences than ever piled up on their smorgasbord of musical impersonations from the past.

While MUSE had already taken on a unique mix of alternative and progressive rock laced with electronica, New Romantic classical, tango and myriad other styles, on BLACK HOLES they upped the ante even further with cited influences including the synthpop of Depeche Mode, the harsh distorted rock of Lightning Bolt and the funk rock of Sly & The Family Stone as well as the heavier alternative funk rock of the lesser known Belgian band Millionaire from whom they acquired the unique stop / start rhythmic beat as well as that interesting bass groove. In a way, one could consider MUSE one of those ultimate mimicry bands much like Mr Bungle in terms of unbridled creativity where no stones are left unturned since there are actually many more influences lurking beneath the more familiar ones. Once again Matt Bellamy unleashes his best Bono ( of U2 ) inspired vocals afire in passionate display but also new to the mix are the keyboard parts that remind me a lot of the "War" era tracks of U2 such as "New Years Day." These keyboard parts recur throughout the album.

While political corruption, conspiracy analyses and extraterrestrial themes are nothing new in the MUSE canon, on BLACK HOLES AND REVELATIONS they excel like never before. With a comfortable foothold in America and top tier status in the UK, MUSE went for the jugular with themes covering political corruption, revolution, New World Order and the expected science fiction laced polemics such as UFOs. This album overall exhibits much more hard rock heaviness than the previous ones. While the first three albums were rather inconsistent in the heaviness department, on BLACK HOLES almost every track except "Soldier's Poem" and "Hoodoo" have hard rock as the main backbone of their compositional makeup. Bassist Christopher Wolstenholme has also stated that the band was more relaxed and it is apparent by the chemistry afoot on BLACK HOLES that it was the case. Add to that the production is OMG superior to the previous album and just by reading the army of mixers and producers makes it quite clear that this album was heavily manipulated in every aspect as to eke out the most pleasing sonic effects.

With a Queen meets ELO bravado, "Take A Bow" sets the tone with a jittery midi sequencer and a take no prisoners critique of the elite's destructive greed that has been ravaging the Earth with sharper vituperating lyrics that find MUSE in a cynical mind set as they hammer away at the miscreancy of the a ruling class run amok. "Starlight," one of the hit singles on the UK charts anyways offers a respite from the progressive wrath of the opener with a piano run churning out odd time signatures before jumping into rock mode. The band stated that this was the hardest track to record and about seven versions exist. Do i hear a box of unreleased goodies in the future? The next track and most successful single of the album, Super Massive Blackhole" was my personal introduction to the world of MUSE and the gateway drug to the larger spectacle that the band has become. Not only is this track an interesting alternative rock performance that utilizes Matt Bellamy's falsetto skills to fullest level (they're back after a dampening on "Absolution,") but it kinda sounds like Prince joined in as the track is funky, danceable and infectious as hell with a strong groove, interesting dynamic shifts and even a backmasked guitar solo.

"Map Of The Problematique" sounds sorta like something more modern that could fit in on U2's "War" album with the same Edge styled guitar sweeps and that famous piano run heard on "New Year's Day." The track tackles the polemic subject of limits of growth and escaping to Mars which the cover art refers to. While the album is by far the heaviest with almost every track rocking out big time, "Soldier's Poem" is a slow acoustic ballad sounding like something Freddie Mercury would've conjured up. Continuing the genre jumping, "Invincible," influenced by David Bowie's "Heroes" was the fourth single starts out slow with a military march percussive drive and evolves into a more sophisticated rock track with a haunting theremin adding an eerie atmospheric presence. "Assassin" is a bona fide heavy rock with stellar riffing in progressive time signature chops and performs much like the track title connotes.

"Exo-Politics" continues the rockin' out with a catchy guitar riff, spooky atmosphere with more theremin and a crooning Bellamy lamented the political suppression of extraterrestrial life. "City Of Delusion" begins with a Who inspired acoustic guitar strum-a-thon and wends and winds through some interesting progressions that venture into rock and electronica and ultimately back full circle while utilizing the main melodic theme to tie it all together. "Hoodoo" is an instrumental surf rock track with a few interesting twists and turns that is the perfect build up to "Knights Of Cydonia," inspired by the 1962 hit "Telstar" by The Tornados which featured Bellamny's father George Bellamy on guitar. The track is like riding in the wind through a spaghetti western with surf guitar and progressive pop accoutrements popping up all about including trumpets. This is one of the coolest songs ever and is the perfect way to end a perfect album as it fades to a satisfying crescendo of heavy rock, fight or flight bravado and references to self-preservation. The sequenced key parts are based on the five tone musical phrase from the film Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.

In the day many critics called the album "overblown." Sound familiar? Any time an artist dares exceed the comfort zone of a critic, it gets deemed overweening and dangerous to society. In the case of BLACK HOLES AND REVELATIONS i couldn't more wholeheartedly disagree with such punditry. This album is a masterful youthful critique of the world around the musicians involved. Not only does this trio deliver a passionate plea to the world in terms of ecological justice, spiritual elevation and conspiratorial analyses but it delivers simultaneously some of the most carefully crafted pop hooks disguised by a vast web of musical influences that are juxtaposed in perfect conjunct. Focus too much on a certain aspect of the MUSE-ic and it can certainly derail from overindulgent intellectualism but if one suspends the fact that many musical influences (which are openly cited), then one can come to the conclusion that ALL developments in not only music but science, linguistics and politics are derived from an amalgamation of what came before. MUSE excels in taking a ridiculous amount of musical antecedents and weaves them into something utterly unique. This album was love at first listen and after dozens if not over a hundred listens, it only gets better and better. While i've never made a top 100 album list, i can honestly state that this one would be on it. I simply don't understand why this isn't deemed one of the best pop rock albums of the 21st century. It certainly is for me.

Report this review (#1942801)
Posted Monday, July 2, 2018 | Review Permalink
Kempokid
COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
4 stars After refining and smoothing out their general sound in Absolution, Muse loses the majority of its intensity, and instead focuses on many of the pop elements of the band, while also incorporating a few more elements which could be considered more in the vein of prog, with more unique instruments along with some different song structures. The songs in many cases have a sound of majesty to them, but not with the same sort of raw emotion as previously, sounding more epic than before, but also having a certain beauty to them. I find the album as a whole to be a more complete package as opposed to most other albums by the band, with each song contributing to the flow and sound of the album, and while some don't work out quite so well, they still don't feel like the throwaway tracks on Showbiz and Absolution, still having some decent qualities about them.

The album starts off in a very typical Muse fashion, with a cool spacey atmosphere and a gradual build up that reaches great heights. Even here, it's clear that there will be a much greater emphasis on synths and keyboards however, as the guitar takes a backseat when compared to the other instruments, even if it does come in much louder near the end. The next three songs are a group of what are more or less pop songs, each with their own sound, Starlight being a fairly standard alt rock song with a catchy chorus, while Supermassive Black Hole is an awesome dance track. I do like this one quite a lot, balancing out this amazing, danceable beat with the guitars and pounding drums, all with an insanely catchy melody for a while back a couple of years ago, this song in particular really stood out to me, and even now I still love it, my favourite part being the changing of the instrumentation through the various sections of the verse and chorus, then becoming even more amazing once the backing vocals come in, all in all a song that I enjoy immensely. Map of the Problematique is another one of my favourite songs on the album, with the synths giving the song this amazing tone, makes it feel absolutely massive in scope, and the vocals are nothing short of breathtaking.

Past these first 4 marvellous tracks, the album becomes somewhat less exciting for a while, with none of them actually being even close to bad, but none of them reaching similar heights, at least not for quite a while. Both Soldier's Poem and Invincible are fairly decent, but the former doesn't really go anywhere, and the latter, while quite good and one of the moments which the word majestic could be used quite easily, the song just doesn't really strike a chord with me. Assassin starts off with an awesome intro before breaking into an intense rock track, but I still don't find many moments of the song to be quite as enjoyable as the intro. Exo-Politics is the closest thing to a weak point that the album has, with a decent riff, but nothing particularly great in it, at least not to me. The final 3 songs all interest me greatly when analysing them under a prog lens, as they all definitely have a lot of proggy elements to them. City of Delusion has a strong exotic sound to it, with the strings giving it a Middle Eastern feel to it, before the song then breaks out into an awesome trumpet solo with a groovy bassline. Hoodoo continues this tone, but I feel like it didn't have quite enough time to develop into something more than simply enjoyable. That said, Knights of Cydonia makes up for it, in fact, Knights of Cydonia would make up for just about any single mistake of Muse's career, and is an easy pick for my favourite Muse song of all time (other than possibly the Exogenesis Symphony), and is one of the most epic songs I've had the pleasure of listening to at this point in time. Each section of the song simply builds and builds, starting off with powerful guitar chords, erupting into a fast paced riff before eventually bursting out into such a perfect chorus. To make things even greater is the riff that comes after this point, perfectly closing off the album.

Overall, while this album tends to be more consistent than past Muse albums other than Origin of Symmetry, I don't find this quite reaches enough amazing heights for me to be able to justify a 5 star rating, despite the utter perfection of Knights of Cydonia. The more pop focused route taken here is one that I honestly quite enjoy due to the grandiose nature of it making it quite enjoyable and entertaining. I don't really understand why this album tends to get rated quite a bit lower by Muse fans, as I do find this to be amazingly fun while also having a decent amount of complexity to the point where older fans shouldn't be alienated, but newcomers will find a wide range of great, interesting songs, all ending with one of the pinnacles of the band. If you want to be introduced to Muse, start off with this and Origin of Symmetry, as they show the band at its peak.

Best songs: Supermassive Black Hole, Map of the Problematique, City of Delusion, Knights of Cydonia (must listen)

Weakest songs: Soldier's Poem, Exo-Politics

Verdict: While more poppy and synth focused than before, Muse still prove that they have the capability of writing some absolute gems. I find the album quite easy to listen to in general and think that if you want something that's mostly simple, that still shows high musical aptitude, then this album is one I highly recommend. On top of this, I don't really care who you are, I still recommend Knights of Cydonia, it's amazing.

Report this review (#2134797)
Posted Friday, February 8, 2019 | Review Permalink

MUSE Black Holes And Revelations ratings only


chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of MUSE Black Holes And Revelations


You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — jazz music reviews and archives | MetalMusicArchives.com — metal music reviews and archives