Sound — 10
The end of Origin of Symmetry left us begging for more - and boy they left us begging for a while - but here it is. And although it had been described as "uplifting" by Matt Bellamy (Lead Vocals, Piano, Guitar) prior to its realise we needn't have worried; this is about as uplifting as a lead weight. The sounds on this album, right from the 22 second marching introduction, are simply phenomenal and were better than anyone could have imagined. The awesomely colourful piano ranging from the stonking tunes themselves to the extravagantly shaped end to Apocalypse Please and the refreshing but immensely talented arppegioed piano solo spliting the beggining and end of Butterflies and Hurricanes. However, with his huge array of effect filled Hugh Manson guitars the guitar (being the predomenant feature of his skills) was expected to be equally as good if not better than his piano playing... His playing completely removes the need for the "hoewever" at the beginning of the previous sentence - it was fantastic. The riffs create the perfect basis from which the band can expand upon and then develop into songs and the solos really add to the riffs (from adding to the franticity of songs, "Hysteria"; to pulling the mood through, "Sing for Absolution") rather than create a seperate section to the song. Chris Wolstenholme's bass is just as predomenant in this album as it always was - a key feature in Muse's song writing ability. The subtle changes over riffs to give them a different "colour" (this is noticable prior to the "solo" in Stockholm Syndrome where the bass buffs up the main riff) and the awesome bass lines - "Hysteria" being the obvious choice here! And last but nost least Dom Howard on the drums shows once again that he knows where to add power and speed - the crunching rhythm in "Apocalypse Please" introduced by the marching really gives the feeling of an apocalyptic moment in time and the Double time dumming in the final corus of "The Small Print" really gives the song yet another great feature apart from the Tonal sounds of the guitars. Yet he also proves that he can add some real rhythmical depth to songs like "Rule By Secrecy" and "Blackout". The end-of-the-world stomps like "Time is Running Out" and "Apocalypse Please" contrast with songs like "Endlessly" but because of the overall quality of music there is no musical gap between them. The "Interlude" typifies Muse they make music an they are sickeningy original - and grotesquely good at it.
Lyrics — 10
Now its all very well having this immense backing to a songs vocal lines but if the vocalist is turd you are shafted. Do Muse have this problem? Ha! No way - but... the singing may be good but if the lyrics are awful you may prefer to have a bad singer and not be able to hear - do Muse have th... whats the point - of course they haven't. With one of the most vocally able rock singers of the year (Chris Cornell may be up there too) and a very profficient lyricist to boot - you can hardly go wrong. Not only does Matt write almost flawless lyrics - he fits them to the perfect song. I have mentioned this song a few times (but with - I think - good reason) but Apocalypse please fits the lyrics perfectly. Whilst guitar may have suited the song the crashing sound of the piano gives a lot more than a guitar could ever give to the lyrics - and if you want hysterical music the franticity of the bass line/guitar should quite abtly give that to you without the vocals - but yet again, these give the song a new line and even more dimension. One minor point, Matt manages to get over truly moving lyrics without managing to swear overzealously (if at all) - and although I dont judge against swearing myself (except to a certain extent) this gives this awesome music a wider audience and shows that contoversy isn't always the biggest seller - quality can by far outperform it.
Overall Impression — 10
The best album of the year? - I believe so - the best Muse album? - debatable, but again i believe that is the most complete (nigh on 100%) and is simply a must own for anyone who calls themself a "music" fan. Muse show how melodic should be done in both the hard rocking, knock-yer-face-off-in-a-moshpit-of-oblivion style (without detuning there guitar below a "D", and even capoing the 10th fret in "Thoughts of A Dying Atheist") to slow, brilliant, refreshing alternative rock. Uplifting it is not - awesome it most definatetly is. [Beddo]